Do you ever want to go to the hospital? You know, when you're so tired and you can't seem to get hold of your condition? When better control is just out of reach and the easiest path seems to be to stop time and let someone else press reset? The thought has crossed my mind.
For many of us, managing our monsters is a full-time job. Add to that your regular job, your family, and any other commitments you have, and it’s easy to get sucked into that vicious circle of “I’m too tired to do X, so I skip it, which makes me too tired to do X.”
It’s a nightmare of a merry-go-round. If you can’t avoid getting sucked in, how do you get off?
The last time I had to, I was in college. I had been non-compliant (out of control) since my diagnosis and starting to develop major complications. I was almost too tired to be scared. When I decided to start following a regimen, I could give it my full attention. Even though I was working, I had a four-month summer break to hit the reset button.
Adult life doesn’t have an off switch. The reset button is a lot harder to find when you have bills to pay. I think my job would not take it well if I just stopped showing up for a week. Or a month. I would really love a month.
My reset button is a two-parter: repairing my sleep cycle and getting back to regular exercise. Shouldn’t be too difficult. Maybe 2 or 2 ½ hours difference every day to cover both. And who doesn’t like sleep? OK, keeping one particular nephew in mind, who above the age of 7 doesn’t like sleep?
But I put it off until tomorrow because there is always something else I need to accomplish during that time. Plus, my goals compete with each other. How often do I put off exercise to get enough sleep to get exercise? Six hours is enough, right? As long as I keep my food intake in line, I can put off exercise another day, right? Right?
(I think I’m making my monster dizzy.)
Wrong. Skipping the things we need to control our conditions compounds the symptoms and you become less and less capable of performing in the roles you put before your condition. My dad compares it to the plates and sticks trick in old variety shows. The performer would balance a plate on top of a spinning wooden stick. But there would be six. All in a row. The performer would have to run from one stick to the next to keep them spinning at the proper speed. If one slowed and fell, they all fell.
The only way to get off that particular merry-go-round is to borrow from Nike and "Just Do It". I know, I know, I absolutely hate that line. But there is a measure of truth to it. It has to do with taking stock and prioritizing in a way that will allow you to do everything you want.
A three-step process
First, close your eyes and count off your priorities in your head. Really, there is only one top priority on that list. You know what it is. I know what it is. It has to be your condition, and whatever you have to do to keep it under control. It’s the one we hate the most because other people don't have to do it. It feels the most like a burden, a chore, and we get nothing in return for our hard work. Except we do. We get the rest of those priorities, at full energy, full attention, full participation.
Second, don’t think about your long term goal, or what you “should” be doing. Think about what you can do. Can you do it once a week? Every two weeks? Once a month? Do it without thinking too much, or you will end up thinking yourself out of it. Set it as a an appointment with yourself in your calendar. If you wouldn't skip a doctor's appointment, why would you skip an appointment that was easier to get to?
Last, don't second guess yourself. Whatever you do, it’s more than you were doing before.
Every day I seem to loose a few minutes more sleep. I know my priority, but I haven't executed my plan. I'm not sure what I'm waiting for. I remember how it felt to be well rested and how powerful and empowered I felt when I was exercising almost daily. My confidence rose with my progress. I didn’t struggle to get out of bed or drag during the day. Seems pretty worth the effort to find a way back. Time to just do it.