Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Routine: I'm Not Lazy, I'm Just Pacing Myself

Turtle F2FImage via Wikipedia

Some days, I am slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter. ~Unknown

A friend of mine who I correspond with on Facebook recently posed a question to her friends: If you could have a super power, what would it be?

Remember Samantha Stevens from Bewitched? Remember how she used to think of something, twitch her nose and, presto, it would appear or happen? For lack of a better label, let's call this Think-Blink-Done! That's the super power I want!

See, the pace of my life with chronic illness is slow. I do not have any gears higher than 2nd---a stick-shift car reference. (By the way, I can no longer physically handle driving a manual transmission car any more.) What works for me is the 15 minute rule: I am active for 15 minutes and then I stop. Depending on the activity, I evaluate if I can go another 15 minutes and if the answer is yes, I proceed. If the answer is no, or the activity is too strenuous for more than 15 minutes, I rest. Throughout the day, each and every day, I pace myself 15 minutes at a time.

Another important part of pacing is to alternate activities. I rotate between physical, mental, social and passive endeavors. It is obvious that physical activities are both tiring and prone to exacerbating my chronic pain and chronic fatigue; what I learned is that using my mind, being with others in-person or even on the phone and passive pursuits like watching TV or reading a book can be just as tiring when you have limited energy to exert in a day. Keeping a balance between the types of undertakings I engage in during the day helps me not overdo it. If I expend my energy wisely, I find I can stretch it across the day and into the evening and engage in the things I want and need to do.

Both of these strategies keep me in the Energy Envelope, that is, only expending the energy I have. It's all part of the Golden Rule of Chronic Illness:
If I pace, I can play. If I push, I will pay.
I want to play, so I have learned to accept my life at a turtle's speed. I embrace my inner turtle! The turtle motto is: I'm not lazy, I'm just pacing myself.

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Shelli said...

I love that saying! Funny, I've had CFS for three years, and I've never heard it before. Do you mind if I put it on my website? www.chronic-fatigue-community.com/Pacing. Pacing has been the one thing that is the most helpful to me. It has given me my (very limited) life back. Before I started pacing, I was a 24-hour zombie. Now, I can at least interact a little with my kids and do something fun once in awhile.

Selena said...

Hi Shelli,

Thanks for your comments on my blog post on Pacing from yesterday. I have no problem letting you include the information in that post on your site as long as you give me a little credit.

The 15 minute rule is something I picked up from the FlyLady site. The Golden Rule is something that was collectively developed by the online group I belong to through the CFIDS & Fibromyalgia Self Help site developed by Bruce Campbell. (Renee from Renee's Reflections is in the same group.) I just sort of finalized the presentation and started referring to it as The Golden Rule.

The saying, "I'm not lazy, I'm just pacing myself" is actually on a Post-It note that the occupational therapist at the Cedars Sinai Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia Program gave us. I'll take a picture and post in on my blog today so you can see. :-)

I would love to be mentioned on your site under the blogs category. Do you ever ask people to submit articles to your site as well? I am somewhat of an aspiring writer and would welcome the opportunity to expand my writing pursuits.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog and don't forget to add me to your feed reader or sign up for a Feedburner email.

Selena :-)