Have you looked at your Calendar at the start of a month and thought to yourself, ” What on earth was I thinking. I can’t possibly do all that!”
I’m sure I’m not alone in this exclamation.
As I scrolled through my calendar on my phone for the month ahead, I felt physically sick. It was busier than a healthy person could cope with.
It reminded me of my calendar when I was working. Meeting after meeting squeezed in. A toilet break was not even a consideration. Time was always of the essence.
My current calendar for the month was full of appointments too. Not the business kind as such. Mostly the medical kind.
- Blood Tests
- Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist
- Orthopedic Surgeon (Spinal)
- CT Scan
On top of these I had Volunteer commitments scattered through each week. Most important to me was the phone work, as a Peer-Mentor for a not for profit Arthritis Association, I’d just started.
Of course there was my own forum to manage, my blog and I had just committed to writing 2 articles a month for The Mighty!
I’d booked a friend to visit for coffee and I said I would help our local Rector, who advocates for people with disabilities or social discrimination, by speaking publicly at a future planned event about my health story.
What Was I Thinking?
Clearly I wasn’t thinking very well at all. My enthusiasm to get my health sorted, connect with the wider community and feel alive, had become a chain around my neck.
I’m generally a calm person but I stared at my calendar and felt a wave of panic slowly waft over my body.
My pain served as a constant reminder I’d had 3 failed spinal surgeries within 9 months. I hadn’t even factored this in. I should have known better than to allow one month to be so full the very thought of it paralyzed me.
Clearly I needed to take control of my “Calendar Chaos”.
Working out my priorities was the place to start.
Working out how much I could commit to each week was also key.
I knew I could do 2 medical appointments a week so long as I had 2 days at home in between. Some definitely needed to be moved to the following month. Action Required
I knew my volunteer work was ok as it was all from home. I could do it lying on my bed if needed. This box was ticked. All Ok!
I knew I could write during my rest periods as I don’t sleep during the day. So blogging and articles were also ticked. All Ok!
I knew with my current pain levels I couldn’t sit and talk with visitors at the moment. So coffee catchups had to be postponed. Action Required
As I began to categorise my calendar entries, working out which were ok and which needed action, the relief was immediate.
As it turned out only one medical appointment was causing calendar congestion for the month. If I could move it to November it would create breathing space.
I emailed my Endocrinologist explaining my situation and within 24 hours her Practice Manager phoned me with 2 options for the following month!
It was beyond my expectations and I was so relieved. Moving this appointment also meant a blood test could be moved, so I freed up another morning. More relief!
Next on the list was my friend’s visit. I needed to postpone it as I was only a week post surgery and not recovering well. A simple text explaining I needed to delay the catchup was greeted with understanding, concern and care. I didn’t want to cancel but I knew it was the right thing to do. My other medical appointments and tests had to take priority.
Breathe In, Breathe Out
Within a day I had created space to breathe.
The increased sense of well being by taking the time to re-organise a chaotic calendar, was so worth it.
Sometimes we lock ourselves into situations we think are cast in stone.
Nothing is cast in stone when you are living with a chronic illness. We need to be our own advocates, the architects of how we live our lives. It will be different for each of us, depending on our diseases, our restrictions and our disabilities.
You need to do what’s right for you.
Never be afraid to respectfully decline invitations.
Never be afraid to cancel or change medical appointments, especially if they are routine and to attend would cause more damage than it’s worth.
Where possible have phone appointments. Some Drs do, some don’t, but there’s no harm in asking.
Make sure friends know in advance you may have to cancel or postpone planned catchups. Good friends will understand. Those who don’t, perhaps need to stay on a permanently cancelled list.
You’ve got this. You can make changes to suit your needs. You can turn a chaotic calendar into a calmer, more paced day, week or month.
Above all, breathe in, breathe out.
If you’re looking for genuine support, care, understanding & friendship, you are so welcome to join my closed Facebook support forum, Medical Musings with Friends . It’s a safe place to connect with others living with chronic & complex diseases, who truly understand the daily challenges. A warm welcome awaits.