Tag Archives: Daily Schedule

Remembering to say NO…

30 Aug 16
Megan
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Hello, yes I’m still here and still alive. Today I want to talk to you about remembering to Say No.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a few weeks now but have struggled to find time when Foggy Frog isn’t being a pain!

With so much going on, writing this post has been a good reminder to me that I need to remember to pace myself and listen to my body. Although physically I’ve been able to do so much more, I’ve found mentally I’ve been struggling the last few weeks.

This means it’s time to reevaluate again and find what I can step back from to achieve balance again.

Pacing is such an important part of my management strategy for the pain and other debilitating symptoms, such as the fog and fatigue. With the changes in my medications over the last few months my pain levels have been lower and, as I said above, I’ve been able to do more than I have in over 3 years.

I’ve joined a gym and have found that doing something most days (generally a stretching based class or a swim) has been beneficial for my pain levels as well. My step count is back to an average of 7,000; a level I haven’t managed since December 2014.

I’m still working on the Australian Association of Environmental Education Biennial Conference occurring in October, and my upcoming book launch on 24 September… less than a month to go! This has meant meetings almost every day about one thing or another.

As you can probably tell there’s a lot going on at the moment. In fact, it’s a little too much so I’ve been slowly stepping back from the conference planning and trying to work out what the essential things are for me to get done for the book launch to be a success.

I want to keep up my physical activity, as I’m trying to make sure I’m as healthy and strong as possible for when we start trying for a family (something we’re seriously talking about at the moment). So that means saying No to some of the other activities in my life.

Right now I’m saying NO to:

  • taking on any more for the AAEE Conference planning
  • to other volunteer opportunities that don’t have any connection to possible paid work in the future
  • meetings I can postpone until later

I’m saying YES to:

  • time with family and friends
  • actions that will progress the book launch
  • actions that will help me be healthier and stronger (exercise, diet, rest)

What do you say No to in order to say YES to the things that matter?


Share Your World: Week 4

28 Jan 16
Megan
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I can’t believe it’s almost the end of January already and we’re up to week 4 of Share Your World 2016 !

So far this year I’ve been struggling to maintain my balance. If I look at it from a week or month point of view I’m doing ok but on a daily basis I’m still struggling. Some days are crashed on the couch and unable to do anything much other than listen to an audio book or the tv in the background. Other days I’m rushed off my feet trying to do appointments and out of the house activities… I haven’t worked out the balance there yet.

It’s difficult for me to work out how to do this properly because I see the benefit of not having to drive more than once or twice a week (it’s still an activity that wears me out a lot) but then it means those days I am out I don’t manage to pace my step count, I don’t get my usual rest breaks, and I just over do it in general.

I’m also struggling to get any sort of regular routine in place for work activities. I’d love to be doing at least a minimum amount of work each week but Foggy Frog seems to be my constant companion again and he’s making it very hard for me to do anything for more than 5-10 minutes at a time with any hope of having reasonable results.

How do you pace yourself with activities outside the house or with adding in any work?

Anyway, being Thursday today, it’s time for another round of Share Your World.

Share Your World – Week 4

What one thing are you really glad you did yesterday?

Yesterday was one of those super full days where I over did it. That doesn’t mean there weren’t things I achieved that I’m really glad to have done though…

I managed to make it in to town to have lunch with E and one of his work colleagues before heading to the meeting I had in the afternoon. This is something that I really enjoy doing as it doesn’t happen very often these days unless I have a medical appointment in town.

Are you generally focused on today or tomorrow?

I do have a habit of focusing on things that I feel are important or scary that might be happening in the future but these days, thanks to the uncertainties related to my health, I’ve gotten a lot better at just focusing on one day at a time. Most weeks I don’t even look at my calendar in advance unless I’m booking something in. I might check it the night before when I’m getting ready for bed or when someone asks me what I’m doing.

Would you want a guardian angel/mentor? What would they tell you right now?

A mentor (or several mentors) provides inspiration, advice and guidance to help you succeed the best in life. Yes, I’d want that in my life and look up to several people in my life now as mentors.

Right now my mentor would be telling me to remember to be gentle with myself. As you might be able to tell from the last few posts I’m feeling very frustrated about my limitations at the moment. I’m wanting to do way more than my body will actually allow and I’m struggling to accept it. If my mentor was here right this minute they’d be reminding me that my health is the most important thing, without it I can’t do anything. They’d be telling me to continue to listen to my body and rest when I need to, to accept where I am at the moment, and to not set unrealistic expectations for myself.

Would you rather live in a cave house or a dome house made out of glass? (photos of the houses found on google search)

I love the idea of both but my dream house would be a dome house that’s built into the ground with lots of glass… something like this.

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful for the understanding and support of the wonderful people in my life. I realised in the last few weeks that I’m not going to meet my deadline for one of my consulting jobs. When I contacted the client to let them know they’ve been very understanding and said there is no rush and to just work on it as quickly as I can.

Being able to spend time with my friends has also been very satisfying.

In the next week I’m looking forward to talking with my doctors about some test results I got in the last week and hopefully getting some guidance on how to approach the issues that have arisen (More to come in an upcoming post on this).

Balance #OneWord2016

04 Jan 16
Megan
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Last year I chose one word to guide me through the year… Enough.

I’ve recently found out from The Bloggess that there is a #oneword2016 Challenge and seeing I was already planning to choose a single word, I’ve decided to participate. The one word you choose is meant to be something that will help you focus on your main goal for the year.

Enough did that for me last year. There were many times when I felt I needed to do more or buy more items. Most of these times I remembered my word and felt better about only doing what I could or reducing the items I had rather than adding to them.

This year, I want to keep up the focus on the benefits I’ve received from Enough but focus more strongly on being able to increase (or at least better BALANCE) my activities.

I’m going to continue focusing on moving towards a simple, sustainable and meaningful life with a strong focus on finding ways to BALANCE my needs and wants. I’ll continue to try and single-task, try to get a good BALANCE of health, work, and social activities, and relaxation into my day/week.

If you haven’t worked it out yet, my word for 2016 is BALANCE.

I haven’t planned out the whole year but I have a lot that I want/need to achieve in the next 6 months so I’m focusing on that and trying to break it down into monthly and weekly activities…

In the next 6 months I need to:

  • Complete my current consulting jobs for different local Council’s here in SA:
    • Biodiversity Trails – due end of January
    • Environment Action Plan 2016-2019 – due April/May
  • Complete my Certificate IV in Training and Assessment – due by end of May
  • Publish Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang Picture Book – we’re so close but it seems to take so long to get it all together!

On top of these tasks, I have several appointments as part of the ongoing management of my health and I want to have regular time with family and friends and build up my casual work a bit as well.

As you can see, there’s a lot going on so it’s going to be an effort to find ways to balance everything and continue to pace.

Tomorrow, I’ll give you an update on how I’ve been going with the No Buy Challenge the last few weeks. Let’s just say now that I’ve realised there were a few things that should have been on the exceptions list that I forgot, so I’ll be updating that tomorrow.

Do you have one word that’s going to guide you through 2016?

The Difficulty of Pacing: Work

03 Dec 15
Megan
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one comments

I’ve been so excited to hear from you all about your thoughts on the most recent A-Z guide to a simple, sustainable and meaningful life. One of the questions I’ve been asked to share more about is how work fits in to pacing with a chronic illness.

One reader in particular approached me with her current situation and I could see a lot of similarities so I wanted to talk about the issue in more detail.

This lady has ME/CFS like me. I’ll let her share her experience in her own words (modified for privacy):

I’ve been working on trying to get my activity level up for a while now but have only been keeping track of my daily steps for about a month. At the moment I seem to be averaging about 4000-5000 steps a day which I’m really happy with. I think a couple of years ago I would’ve been lucky to average 1500-2000. My main problem at the moment is that my step count is very inconsistent. It can vary anywhere from 2000 steps a day to over 8000 a day depending on the activities I have on.
I’ve now been back at work for just over 3 months… I’ve only been doing short shifts (3 or 4 hours) but these shifts involve being on my feet and walking around for most of the time. This makes it hard for me to pace myself and on a work day I don’t think it would be possible for me to keep my step count below 8000. I then find that the day after I have worked I’m exhausted and my step count is very low.
The issue here is the inconsistency. It’s something I can relate to strongly, on the days I need to go out of the house I tend to find myself doing double or more steps than on the days I’m home and can pace myself. I’ve also found it harder to avoid crashes since I’ve started working regularly.
My exercise physio has made it clear to me that the most important thing in order to avoid crashes is to be consistent. As the reader above stated, this isn’t always possible. It’s difficult to maintain a consistent level of activity when you have to do more on certain days due to engagements you can’t (or don’t want to) avoid, things like doctor’s appointments, work, important social events.
One thing I’ve done to try and help with consistency, is to consider it more on a week or monthly basis (rather than a day by day basis). That is, like the reader above, some days I do a lot more but I balance that out by doing a less on the other days.
I’m not completely happy with that approach though because some days I’m doing less because (like today) I literally have no energy left. What I’d like to do is find a way to pace so that even though I do more some days and less on others, I’m not doing the less because of crashes. I want to be doing it because I want to.
Pacing is about setting base levels and sticking to them for as long as necessary before slowly increasing them.
Since I’ve started working again, I aim to do a minimum of 5-8 hours a week. I break this down into smaller time slots. Some days this may be an hour at a time, other times (like today) it’s in 5-10 minute blocks…
I’m lucky in that most the work I’m doing I’m able to do from home and sitting down, but I still need to pace myself. I need to find the right balance of mental and physical activity to maintain my health.
In an ideal world, we’d be able to only work what fits with our health but in some roles (as with our reader) there are minimum shifts that you can do so if you’re going to work at all it’s likely to be too much to start with.
In response to the reader’s concerns I’d like to offer some advice…
If it’s possible to take short breaks, or even just ask for a stool at the counter (if you’re in customer service), that would give you a chance to pace yourself even within your shifts. However, knowing the area you are working in I know that the workplace isn’t always willing to be that flexible.
From what you’ve said to me it does sound like you are doing the best you can in your situation. It’s great that you’re tracking your activity levels and maybe you could look at working out what your baseline is.
How do you pace?
If you work, how do you manage the difficulties this can raise?

And the weather changes again…

22 Nov 15
Megan
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The weather here has been up and down with some extreme heat over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, this weather isn’t conducive to me being at my best.

I have been struggling a lot over the last week in particular with very high pain and fatigue levels. Keeping up with the daily blog posts and doing a minimal amount of other work or appointments takes most of my energy and the rest of the time has mainly been spent doing mindless screen activities (tablet games or tv).

My step count has dropped again to a minimum of 2,000 (half the minimum I’d built up to) but I’m not too concerned about that. The thing I’m most to concerned about is if this is a precursor to a crash like I had last year (which I haven’t fully recovered from even now).

I’m hoping by proactively resting and listening to my body I can avoid a major crash.

The problem is that I still don’t really know what caused the crash last year so I don’t know what I can do to avoid it.

On the other hand, I don’t want to go backwards because I’m being too cautious… so I am still trying to maintain a minimum level of activity and because it’s the newest and most meaningful addition to my routine, I’m trying to prioritise my work activities.

Now it’s time for another rest…

Do weather changes affect your health? What steps do you take to minimise the impact?

On Routine and Pacing

22 Oct 15
Megan
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I’ve mentioned many times about trying to maintain some form of routine and pacing as a way of managing my health. Now it’s something I need to refocus on.

I’ve got goals and dreams that I want to achieve within the next few years, and in order to do them I need to be as healthy as I can be. As I’ve previously mentioned, over the last few months I’ve begun adding work back into my life and this has thrown the routine I had set for myself out the window.

Why is it so important for you to have some form of routine?

In order to maintain a lower level of pain and more energy I’ve found the only thing that even works a little is pacing myself. Without routine it’s hard for me to keep my step count consistent and to actually motivate myself on my crash days.

I want to increase my step count back up to where I was before I crashed around Christmas last year (an average step count of 7,000). To do this I’m slowly raising what my minimum step count is for crash days. Over the last 3-4 months I’ve raised my minimum step count from less than 2,000 to 3,500. I’m raising in 500 step intervals every few weeks.

But what about the things that happen in life? You can’t plan everything!

No, you can’t but you can set yourself up so that you have some reserve for the unexpected while still maintaining a general routine on a day to day/week on week basis.

What’s your plan?

At this stage I’m still formulating a new plan for pacing and setting a routine that is flexible enough but I think it will look something like this…

8 – 8:30 am

Do some deep breathing, get up and do a short yoga sun salutation

8:30 – 9:30 am

Shower or bath (pain relief technique) and get dressed, rest if necessary

9:30 – 10 am

Breakfast

10 am – 12 pm

High energy work/housework/appointments with regular rest breaks

(no longer than 1 hour activity at a time without a break)

12 – 1 pm

Lunch

1 – 3 pm

Lower energy work/housework/appointments with regular rest breaks

(no longer than 1 hour activity at a time without a break)

3 – 5 pm

REST (tv or nap depending on energy levels)

5 – 7 pm

Make and eat dinner

7 – 9 pm

TV

9 – 9:30 pm

Pelvic Stretches, prepare for bed

10 pm

Bed

It’ll take me a while to build up to this (especially the getting up and going to bed at a regular time) but it’s important to me to push myself without going past my limitations.

Have you ever tried to set yourself a routine? How successful was it?

Life with Chronic Illness – Pacing and Routine revisited

25 Aug 14
Megan
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Last week I discussed how pacing was one of the key recommendations from the International ME/CFS Primer for Clinical Practitioners. As has happened in the past I left my doctors appointment frustrated at the lack of understanding that medical practitioners here in Australia have about ME/CFS and treatment techniques. When I brought up the topic of Pacing, it was clear that my definition and my GP’s definition were not the same, and I struggled with trying to explain what I meant by pacing.

To my GP (who has a background in Exercise Physiology/treatment), pacing means the same thing as Graded Exercise Therapy (GET). This means that he believes it isn’t about me pacing myself so much as me following what others (my exercise physiologist) tells me know matter how I’m feeling at the time. This technique works for those suffering from depression or other physical injuries, possibly even for Fibromyalgia, but it does not work that way in ME/CFS. Due to physiological differences, people who suffer from ME/CFS react differently to exercise and pushing when feeling bad can lead to crashes and irrevocable damage to their systems (not in all situations but it is possible).

The other thing that came up in my doctors appointment that makes me feel a little frustrated was that his idea of how I can tell when I most likely will be better was based on the time frames of the pacing/GET. Based on how often we’ve currently been increasing my exercise levels, it’s still going to be a few years before I’m anywhere near better (10% increases have been occurring every 2-3 months). This doesn’t help me with feeling like my life is actually moving forward. I feel like all my goals (in particular starting to try for a family) are just on hold and won’t be achievable at the current rate of recovery given that E believes (and to some extent I agree) that I need to be healthy again before we start trying and we’re not getting any younger.

Luckily my Exercise Physiologist at the University Clinic seems to be slightly more up to date with what treatments affect our system and has told me to do what I can when I can. If I can only do a little bit just do that and don’t push myself too far.

So, after pushing myself too far over the last few weeks, I’m back at the point of identifying my current base line so that I can re-initiate some form of pacing and routine in my daily life.

By having a better understanding of where I’m at I’ll feel more confident about saying ‘NO’ to things that are going to push me too far past my current limits and will feel slightly more in control of my life (to what extent I can be) – At the moment I feel like I’ve completely lost control and don’t really know where I’m heading.

As of last Friday, I’m once again paying close attention to what I’m doing, how my body is feeling and what I still have to do. I’ve given myself permission to take things extra slowly while I reestablish my base line and I will then (very slowly) build up from there. I am also trying to reestablish my morning, lunch and evening routines to help me stay on track.

What are my routines?

Morning Routine

  • Up by 8 am (lately it’s been 8:30 – 9:30 before I’m out of bed)
  • Journal
  • Shower and dress
  • Breakfast
  • Sort animals (including sweeping floor)
  • rest
  • Yoga (and on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday my Exercise Physiologist workout)
  • meditation
  • blog/read/write/draw (MENTAL ACTIVITY)

Lunch Routine

  • lunch at 12-12:30pm
  • walk or bike ride (I’ve been taking photos of the nature around us (see gallery below for some) – it’s been such nice weather lately)
  • rest/meditation

Evening Routine

  • All electronic devices off by 8:30pm (including TV, phone, computer)
  • Bath/Shower
  • Read
  • Meditation

Although I feel extremely guilty about having 2 baths/showers a day I’ve found it’s an essential part of my pain management strategy. When I skip one of them my pain levels increase by quite a bit. To alleviate my guilt a little I am trying to bucket out bath water whenever I have the energy to do it so that the water is reused to water the garden.

In between these routines I fit in any other activities that need doing such as appointments and my housework. Most days the morning routine takes me all the way to lunch time by the time I add rests in between short sessions of the last activity.

On Wednesdays I tend to have doctors appointments in the morning (and sometimes the afternoon as well) which replaces my mental activity and usually means the rest of the day is just resting.

How do I plan on Pacing?

Pacing appears to be key, both to managing my pain levels (from the Fibromyalgia and Pelvic Congestion Syndrome) and my energy levels so as to avoid or minimise crash days.

Over the last few months my number of crash days (where I can’t do much at all – I may push myself to do my exercises or some housework/an appointment – and spend most the day on the couch resting) have increased dramatically again. I thought it was as a result of increasing my Lyrica dose, but as I’m coming off that (I have a week to go) I’ve realised that even though that has played a small part I’ve also just been doing way to much and missing my rest breaks because of how foggy I’ve been lately. The Lyrica also seemed to have been blocking my tell tale signs that I’ve done too much, such as my sore throat and the slight increase in pain levels.

I am going to be pacing in two different ways:

  1. Over a week or longer period I will be making sure my appointments and social events are spaced out enough that I have time to rest in between them. This will mean learning to say no to some events and learning to prioritise what is most important.
  2. Throughout each day I will be listening to my body and adjusting what I do according to my symptoms. I will try to alternate physical and mental activities, as well as making sure I have rest breaks whenever my throat begins to get sore or my pain levels begin to rise (I’d like to do it before symptoms occur but I don’t want to go to the extreme of saying I’m going to do everything in 15-30 minute blocks – this would be the next step if I’m not able to pace myself based on listening to my body).

How do you pace yourself and do you have routines to make sure you manage to do the most important things?

Post #200 – a reflection on My Chronic Life Journey to date

12 Aug 14
Megan
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Thanks

Thank you all!

I wanted to take the time today to say thank you to all of you; those of you who have been following from the start and those of you who have just started following me here.

This blog started as a place for me to share my progress with my illness (at the time undiagnosed) with my family and friends who were interested but I didn’t see much. It has grown into so much more!

With the support and input of many of you, we have begun the process of setting up a campaign to help raise awareness of chronic illnesses that don’t have visible symptoms. The Foggy Frog picture book, which many of you helped fund, is on it’s way to being published either later this year or early next year. Once it is published we’ll begin promoting and considering what the next phase of this campaign will be. One thing I do know is that the campaign will be being run through LiveKen, a business we’ve established for this campaign and to help people discover how to live simple, sustainable and meaningful lifestyles.

Together we have defined what it means to be mentally strong when living with a chronic illness.

11 tips Mental HealthYou have been with me as I have been diagnosed, first with Pelvic Congestion Syndrome then Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS, and while I’ve been experimenting with different treatment options.

Looking back I can see that I have improved a little, and we have achieved a lot, in less than 12 months. For example, I am now able to do some basic housework and cooking and have been exercising daily. Both things I would not have been able to do when I first began this blog from my couch.

So, THANK YOU, to each and every one of you who have been a part of this journey and please continue following and sharing with me both here and over at LiveKen as we continue on our journey and discover how to live a life that is meaningful and fulfilling with multiple chronic illnesses.

 

Defining my Boundaries (Day 6 – Personal Boundaries)

13 Nov 13
Megan
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(c) Megan S, November 2013

(c) Megan S, November 2013

Day 6 of the 21 Days of Gratitude program focused on setting personal boundaries to be able to give from the deepest part of your soul. It took me a while to get my thoughts straight but it got me thinking about how well my daily schedule is working for me.

Although it works well on days where I’m staying at home and not doing anything else, I hardly have any days where this is the case. Thanks to multiple doctors appointments, acupuncture appointments and the occasional social activity with family and/or friends I tend to only have one or two days in a week where my schedule actually works.

So… I think I’m going to experiment with setting myself a set of personal boundaries and clearly letting everyone know exactly what these are so that they can help me stick to them. In setting these boundaries I need to consider how long I can do different activities at one time and over a whole day/week and how much rest I need between each activity.

By setting these boundaries I’m hoping it will help me pace better and stick to my plans for major events in my life. This will allow me to give the best of myself to all those I truly value (which is important to me as since being ill I’ve struggled with this – post to come).

Without further ado, here are my personal boundaries that will allow me to heal and maintain a manageable level of pain and fatigue…

Please click on the images to view them larger.

(c) Megan S, 2013

(c) Megan S, November 2013

(c) Megan S, 2013

(c) Megan S, November 2013

I haven’t mentioned transport in here because I haven’t worked a limit for that. I know that traveling in a private car has less impact than taking a taxi which has less than public transport. I just don’t know how long us too long for setting off symptoms.

I will continue to tweak these as I determine what works and what doesn’t. And obviously over time I would hope to see the session limit increase over time.

Do you work with boundaries, a daily schedule or do you have another technique for pacing yourself?

Balancing my body…

08 Nov 13
Megan
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At the moment my body is out of balance.

This is obvious with the continuous pain and fatigue. I am listening to my body though and trying to re balance it.

I am focusing on eating fresh, wholesome food as often as possible, meditating and resting to listen closer to my body, and surrounding myself with people who inspire me and help me feel more in balance.

Yesterday’s meditation in my 21 Days of Gratitude was focused on balancing the body. The comment that really stood out too me and kept resonating during the meditation was “Pain is not our enemy”. The meditation went on to explain that we can work with pain to ensure our body is in balance. Basically it is important to listen to your body in order to achieve harmony and balance.

Living with chronic pain and fatigue can make it difficult to find the balance that is needed in life. It feels like whatever we do it’s impossible to find this balance because any small action can increase the pain and fatigue. But I believe by doing activities that actively increase energy and reduce pain it is possible, over time, to find balance again.

This is what I’m hoping to do by mindfully meditating, eating well, and working within my limits by gradually increasing activity and pacing what I do.

What do you do to keep you body and mind in balance?