“It’s stressful to go out or do things but not doing them has its own liabilities.”
When Dealing with a Chronic Illness, Make Sure You Have a Back-up Plan
By: Lydia Neilson
December 9, 2017
I thought I would share with you what I stumbled across. I was looking up information for a friend of mine who plans to start a company, I therefore began researching risk assessment methods for her so that she could plan her moves and avoid as much mistakes wherever possible.
As I started summarizing how to assess risks plan strategies, I noted that like looking at the pitfalls and warning signs of a business venture, our daily lives with a chronic illness pretty much resemble a business venture in the pros and cons of an endeavour.
Keeping that in mind, I decided to apply the same assessment plan to my daily schedule and see how it would stack up. One of the first things I learned about risk management was that you always have to have a contingency plan. I realized I didn’t have one. I had nothing to fall back on if Plan ‘A’ failed. Supposing I went to a friend’s house for a visit, did I have a way to get home if it turns out I became unwell or did I ask the friend in advance that if I became unwell, was there a place I could rest. No wonder I was stressed about going anywhere, I worried about what could happen but had taken no precautions for a back-up plan.
One of the items you address in a risk assessment plan is to identify critical business functions. In our case it would be basic activities of daily living, such as taking a shower, getting dressed, having breakfast. These are critical items and they were not even on my list.So I had toidentify the risks. That of course is obvious. I would say, if I shower, will I have enough energy to get dressed and have breakfast or would it make more sense to eat first so that I won’t be too tired to eat? I thought that was a very good consideration, especially on a bad day. In other words, I needed to prioritize my plans for the day.
By prioritizing I could minimize the impact and maximize the benefits of each action I took. Since our energy is concentrated on both physical and mental, I thought it would be to my benefit to alternate my activities between mental and physical work and that way have a more balanced day.
Next I decided to look at how long I could go before I reached that wall of not being able to go on any longer at whatever I was doing, keeping in mind I didn’t want to reach the crash point.
I discovered that also varies on a daily basis as it depended on first of all how I felt when I got up and if I had appointments I had to go to. If appointments were part of the day, then that day my necessities of the day and the appointment should be my main goal of the day. That’s where risk management comes in again, how to do that and so I must prioritize and minimize a waste of energy on things I cannot afford to do that day because of my priorities.
I now found I had a better understanding of how I could have better control of my day by not only seeing what my priorities were for the day but having a contingency plan, a back-up plan for when I couldn’t fulfill what I planned to do. I have less stress in my day as I don’t have to think about the “what if” of not knowing what I would do if I couldn’t do what I set out to do and or was in a different location.
By helping my friend, I also had a different understanding of how to live my life and be less stressed. I now stay alert of warning signs and the moment I realize that I have to change my plans, I don’t wait and agonize on what to do but am now prepared to deal with it as I have a back-up plan.
Now, when I go out with a friend for a social time, I will discuss with the friend ahead of time what I may have to do if I can’t stay. This way they are not surprised if or when it happens and they are also more understanding because there are no awkward moments to get over.
It is always understood that each person’s life has variables and what may work for me may not work for someone else. However, for me looking at my illness from a different perspective gave me more insight on how I can have better control of ME.