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, let alone someone with chronic illness and a progressive disease.
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. Not the business kind as such. Mostly the medical kind.
- Blood Tests
- NDIS Support Coordinator
- Orthopaedic Surgeon
- Occupational Therapist
- CT Scan
On top of these I had volunteer commitments scattered through each week, including moderating a Facebook group for Arthritis Queensland, plus I look after the New Zealand Facebook page for an international church.
Of course there was my own forum to manage, my blog, my podcast, and I had recently started freelance editing work for my Publisher.
I’d also booked a couple of friends to visit for coffee, plus a very special reunion with my brother was a priority for me and it was definitely staying in my calendar, no matter what.
What Was I Thinking?
Clearly I wasn’t thinking very well at all with the number of commitments looming.
My enthusiasm to get my health sorted, connect with the wider community and feel alive, had become a calendar catastrophe.
I’m generally a calm person but, as I stared at my phone, the month of November loomed and I felt a wave of panic slowly waft over my body.
My pain serves as a constant reminder I’ve had three failed spinal surgeries, have non union broken bones throughout my body and spent twelve weeks completely bedridden, six of them in hospital, only a year ago with a sacral fracture. 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 this seemingly chaotic schedule.
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 two medical appointments a week so long as I had two days at home in between. So I definitely needed to move some scheduled in November to the following month. Action Required
I knew some of my easier volunteer work was ok as it was all online. 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 easily sit and talk with many visitors at the moment. So coffee catchups, Allied Health, NDIS visitors etc had to be postponed. My brothers visit was my biggest priority, so conserving my energy was paramount. 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 December it would create breathing space.
I emailed my Orthopaedic Surgeon explaining my situation and, within 24 hours, his Practice Manager phoned me with two 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!
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.
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 doctors 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.
The Biggest Decision – Time for Annual Leave from My Medical Musings!
When you work as a volunteer patient advocate, blogger, writer podcastor, and manage your own online global support forum, you don’t tend to think about needing to take annual leave, as you are not “technically” employed.
My Medical Musings is a full-time job for me and I started blogging in 2015. I haven’t had a break since then. Even when I’m in hospital, I continue to work on my forum and I write. I love it so it’s a pleasure but, even when we love something, it’s still possible to become burnt out.
As I contemplated my calendar catastrophe, I realised, for the moment, I just have nothing to give to my forum members. I need to take some quiet time to think about the direction/future of the group. I’ll definitely be keeping it going into the future but I do feel connections are currently hit and miss and interactions are reducing.
I think Covid has a lot to do with that. I think people in general are a bit sick of talking about illness and are wanting to focus on getting out and about after having such long lockdown periods, plus reconnecting with family, friends and life’s simple pleasures. Who can blame them! We are living in a very different world and I think as the “Medical Musings With Friends” founder, I need to consider how to reinvent the group, and perhaps my entire brand a little bit, to reflect the change in needs.
So, I’ve decided it’s time to take annual leave for the month of November. Time to step aside and take stock. Time to stop and relax so I can shut out the noise of my life and listen to my heart.
I’ll be back on the 28th November. My beautiful admin team will be looking after our forum members while I’m away.
I’m not going anywhere, I’ll be at home. I’ll still do some blogging, just not as much.
I’ll also continue to post occasionally on My Medical Musings Facebook page, and occasionally on Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.
So, if you would like to keep up to date with My Medical Musings throughout November, the Facebook page is the best place to be. Simply click like to follow along and you won’t miss a thing.
Remember if you would like even more in-depth insight into my musings, my new book is also available to order online in major bookstores globally. All the book details and where to find it are at the end of this blog post.
Thank you all so much for your support following me, being a part of the MMWF community and for buying my book.
I look forward to being back in December, ready to take up every aspect of my patient advocacy work, and I’ll be excited to prepare for Christmas with you all. I definitely want it to be “the season to be jolly” when I return.
For now…I’m off to “smell the roses”
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your own upcoming commitments, and perhaps a bit burnt out, you’ve got this. You can make changes to suit your needs. You can turn a calendar catastrophe into a calmer, more paced day, week or month……it just takes a little planning, tweaking and action on your part. It’s worth it though to realise you can suddenly breathe!
Breathe in, breathe out, it’s time to relax.
Medical Musings with Friends
If you’re looking for genuine support, care, understanding and 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 and complex diseases, who truly understand the daily challenges. A warm welcome awaits.
My book “My Medical Musings”, is published by Imaginewe Publishers and available now to purchase as a paperback or e-book.
Here are the links to online retailers if you would like to purchase the book:
If you would like an audible version of my blog, please check out my Podcast, Medical Musings With Sam
I’m also a Contributor at “The Mighty”. You can check out my published articles at My Author Page
I also write @ Blogs by Christian Women