Day 7 - Deed of the Day: No Guilt Saying No with Lupus
Learning to say "No" has been one of the hardest lessons I've had to master with lupus. I always thought it was easier to just push through whatever it was I should have said "No" to. But over time, I realized that setting boundaries for myself and sticking to them is the best defense I have against the disease. Once I started acknowledging my limitations (of time, energy, mobility, etc), I was able to establish what I could handle, and then asserted myself by saying "No" to anything beyond that. It's become easier over time to think and say the word "No", but I still find myself having to squash feelings of guilt when I do.
Last Monday, our sweet Tibetan Terrier, Tia, was due for spay surgery. The day before the operation, the vet and I agreed over the phone that we should have a quick, impromptu, 15 minute pre-op appointment, to make sure Tia was all set to go. The only time we both had available was 1:15pm - a time that is usually off limits for me because of my nap. But the appointment would be short, so I would still have time to nap before picking up the kids from school. I agreed, confident that all would be fine.
Tia and I arrived at the appointment, and the check up got underway. But as appointments often do, it went longer than expected. Before I knew it, it was 1:45, we weren't finished, and I was staring bleary-eyed into pre-surgery paperwork, trying to make decisions about anesthesia and tooth extractions. About that time, the vet said to me, "You know, if you want to put off the surgery until next week, we can just use Tia's 1-3pm time slot tomorrow for a wellness exam. You can come in, we can talk over any concerns you have, well in advance of Tia's surgery." I looked at her - and she said, "I know it's all just so overwhelming."
And I said, "Yes, but I'm also exhausted, because it's my nap time." I explained about lupus, about my daily nap, and with no guilt at all, I said, "So, no, whether or not we do the surgery tomorrow, 1-3pm won't work for me. I can't do this two days in a row."
Just like that, I made a good, healthy decision. There was no guilt for shutting down her idea. No hard feelings for potentially forcing her to rework the schedule. Saying "No" was simply a way to set myself up to succeed with my disease. It was preemptive. It was strategic. And it was guilt-free.
She congratulated me on managing my chronic illness, and I felt great about enlightening someone (a doctor, even!) about the limitations of lupus. The exchange prompted us to immediately wrap up the appointment, and she told me to put off making a decision until after my nap. I went home, napped, and then weighed my options in carpool line (where all great decision-making is done) with a clear head. We spoke again, and decided to proceed with the surgery as planned (which went swimmingly!)
Healthy decisions don't have to be hard. They just have to be made. I hope you made (at least) one today!