Having any invisible illness at all can be a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” exercise. If you rest, nothing gets done and/or people think you are lazy. If you do something, anything (a chore, going out, shopping, etc.) people see you as healed or there was never anything wrong in the first place. I know that probably seems like an exaggeration; however, if you ever experience a condition that no one can see (or understand), you will soon get what I am talking about.
Some people have adopted the spoon theory. I haven’t really been able to grasp this one, though I see how it can work. It just doesn’t fit my mindset. Instead, I lean towards pacing which I learned in a chronic pain management program and something I like to call “pushing on through”.
Pacing means you set a goal and a reasonable time frame. For example, if my goal is to clean the kitchen, I set the boundaries such as putting food and other things away, emptying and filling the dishwasher, clearing and cleaning off the counters washing any hand wash only items. Then I determine how much time I can allot to the task. Sometimes I can do a half hour at a time, or maybe just the commercial breaks on a TV show I am watching, doing what I can in the breaks and resting while watching until the next commercials. Once I have the basics done, I decide if I can do more – sweep (and wash?) the floor, Tidy up the area where all mail and other items pile up, etc.
If I don’t set up the time frames, and just do it all until finished, I can wear myself out until I am in a ton of pain and exhausted beyond sleep or even rest. In other words, pushing through.
However, there are times when the pushing through technique is effective and often necessary. Last Friday we attended a service for Hubby’s uncle who passed away. I wanted and needed to be there. This family has become my family over the last 20 years and I was going for myself and even more for Hubby. I rested in the morning and then we headed out. I managed to sit on the hard pews and even stand during singing. I felt my blood sugar drop near the end, however, was able to eat at the reception following. I stood and visited with family members and finally alerted Hubby that I was getting tired and needed to go.
When I got home I was exhausted but happy that I was able to go. I came across, I am sure like nothing was wrong with me and that means it was a success. However, when I didn’t show up Sunday for a family birthday party with most of the same people, Hubby had to explain. Thankfully (you learn to appreciate the strangest things when you live with chronic illness) I was feeling bronchitis setting in and with my horrible immune system I couldn’t afford to go out. Hubby was able to say I had bronchitis, which everyone could accept, instead of that I was in pain and fatigued. And he was telling the (half) truth!
There are times then I just can’t push through something and unfortunately they are more common these days. I wanted to attend a training program to become a leader for another pain management program I attended. My problem on the morning it started was that I was having cold symptoms. Again, I couldn’t risk being in public in a weakened condition. I also have to depend on Hubby more and more for help with shopping. Thankfully one store has next day delivery no which helps a lot.
I would really love to hear other’s experiences with pacing and/or pushing through. I know they have become my reality. Are they yours?