My Dad used to occasionally say “KISS” which meant “Keep It Simple, Stupid”. I don’t fully remember the contexts for which he used the acronym, but in many ways I’m thinking it fits my current situation. As you can see, my poor brain has been running around in circles trying to piece a whole bunch of loose ends together to solve multiple life problems. It’s not getting me anywhere fast.
So I’m going to take my Dad’s advice and KISS it.
I decided that I was just too overwhelmed at the list of things I believe I need to do to see improvement in the categories I’d detailed here. Although it was a good first step in identifying my needs and what I can do about them, it was also paralyzing me to see it all before me. Where do I even begin?
So I decided I’d change five things this month so that I’m at least moving forward, in the right direction, taking actions that I’ve decided may lead to positive outcomes.
Then a paragraph of Keven’s story ran through my mind.
Function, Not Pain Level
Early on in PT an event occurred that served as an attitudinal “wake up call” for me. It was my fourth day and my foot felt as if it were on fire and throbbing. The PT had really exacerbated the symptoms. After five minutes of exercise, I told Sherri that I was in terrible pain and could not do the exercises that day. I will never forget what happened next – a life-changing moment! Sherri looked at me and said “If I EVER hear you say the ‘P’ word in here again, you are no longer welcome here! We measure progress here NOT by your pain level, but by the EXERCISES you accomplish!” Shocked by this statement, I went home distressed. Not measure progress by pain relief? What is she saying here? This could not be…does this mean I have to live with this disabling pain forever? I had just assumed that the program was designed to help people get better, not simply learn to live with this incredible pain! I thought hard about this and slowly realized that focusing on my pain level and discomfort was not productive. Sherri was right: I needed to focus on the positive, which was my increasing function. I recall Dr. Galer once saying that the only way to beat CRPS is to physically work through the excruciating pain, but in very small steps, such as with the quota system. He said that with chronic pain, there is no harm being done to the body part even though pain signals are screaming to stop. He said you must train your brain to accept this fact, and this will help turn the pain signals down.
So, increasing function became my new focus. I still had ongoing pain, but kept doing the daily exercises anyway. It was impossible to ignore the pain though, and it continued to rule my world…progress would come as one step forward, two steps back, followed by a little progress, then another set-back. The pain had not noticeably improved, but after a few months I was able to do more physically.
I could make FUNCTION my focus, but I feel this may lead to despair since, again, there’s no promise that this side of heaven, even with all my hard work I’ll actually get improved function – I’ve had this disease a long time and by now it’s settled itself deep into my brain and nervous system. So while I want to note changes in my function, I’m not sure I want to take the same approach as Keven did, in making FUNCTION itself my “success barometer”. Does that make sense?
What I took away from this story is that I need to focus on the changes and actions I’m taking. Even if the outcome isn’t positive, and it very well may not be in some cases, the fact that I’m doing the hard work should be what gives me a feeling of “success” to help drive me forward. I may never have less leg pain – a hard pill of a sentence for me to swallow. Therefore, I need to learn to work through it, like I’ve had to work through all my other pains. Looks like there’s no easy escape this time….there almost never is.
My main motivation by which I will judge success/failure is: “I will consider myself wildly successful if, by God’s grace, I meet goals 1-3 below this month.”
Lifestyle Changes/Healthful Activities I commit to making starting 4/15/2013:
1) Wake up 8:00am, go to bed 10:30pm
2) Flylady Routines!
3) Take all my medication – morning and evening doses (make medication chart to track daily)
4) Begin biofeedback (starts 4/17), 2 x day
5) Nightly epsom salt bucket dunks/foot baths (dunk vs bath depends on level of swelling)
Goal 1) Gutsy Girl will write down five* lifestyle changes/healthful activities to begin for each current month by the 15th of the current month, to improve organization, decrease stress, and increase goal acchievement.
Goal 2) Gutsy Girl will implement all five* chosen lifestyle changes/healthful activities into ADL’s (activities of daily living) from the 15th of the current month to the 15th of the next month, completing each of these changes/activities at least 25 days (unless contraindicated), to establish healthful habits, increase compliance, and improve stamina.
Goal 3) Gutsy Girl will make a chart and update it daily to show compliance in implementing changes/activities into ADL’s for measurable progress tracking.
At the end of the full month (15th to 15th), Gutsy Girl may choose to discontinue any lifestyle changes/healthful activities that she deems to be ineffective. Additionally, if any change/activity would be physically detrimental/contraindicated by doctor or intuition, Gutsy Girl may choose to forego that activity for the current day/week and re-evaluate risk versus benefits the following day/week. If any change/activity is carried over into the next month, it may not be included in the 5 newly chosen changes/activities unless it requires more than 1.25 hours per day to complete. Generally, the new month should have a list of new changes/activities. *Depending on general health/fitness and amount of time/effort each change for beginning month requires, Gutsy Girl may choose to decrease/increase the number of changes/activities per month to correspond with these demands.
Alright, I think that covers most of my bases. This plan moves me forward and gives me something both actionable and measurable to work on instead of feeling paralyzingly overwhelmed and floundering. I’m choosing to take control of what God has given me to manage – my time, daily activity choices, attitude.
There are so many other changes/activities I could have chosen for this month! But no, I’m not going to focus on “all those things I haven’t done/implemented yet” – I’m just going to focus on doing what I’ve committed to doing this month. And knowing my lack of energy, what I’ve committed to doing this month will take all I’ve got and then some anyhow. So FOCUS THERE, Girl…KISS.
Please pray for me.