5 tips for organising your (complicated) health needs in 2016!
If you are anything like me you are still having to cross out and rewrite the date every time you fill out a form – a sort of subconscious protest that somehow we managed to have nearly ticked off the first month of 2016.
Your stomach is beginning to recover from that permanent feeling of festive fullness, going to the beach is no longer a valid excuse for rescheduling (non-urgent) doctors appointments and the hot cross buns are appearing on supermarket shelves (seriously?!). But what about those New Years resolutions – the ones about feeling your healthiest self in 2016? Chances are they too are starting to feel like a distant memory or as you slide into old routines, you have realised that making them happen is going to take more than writing them down on your prettiest paper and sticking them to the fridge.
I have good news, bad news and good news (again) for you. The good news is it is never too late. The bad news is I have nothing to tell you that you haven’t heard before, but the bonus (consider it a New Years special) good news is that it might be a whole lot simpler than you have convinced yourself.
At risk of possibly sounding like your mother, my hands-down favourite hot tip for starting to take control of your health and reap the rewards that brings is to get and feel organised. And perhaps equally as importantly – shift the way you think about it.
You see, while the idea of getting organised might make you want to catch a few z’s, creating a system that works for your health needs is really empowering. It is you taking responsibility for YOU – owning your health.
When we get organised and see it as a proactive step instead of an obligatory one, we choose to become our own advocates. We acknowledge we are worthy of health and that in creating a plan, we are making the statement to ourselves and others that we are prepared to make the time and effort to ensure we can enjoy our healthiest self and the freedom that comes of it.
Particularly for those with chronic health conditions, making time to get organised minimises the overwhelm that comes from large numbers of medications, treatments and appointments. It means things don’t get forgotten or feel chaotic and it is the one and only way I have found to be effective for managing compliance and minimising the time I spend doing treatments. It makes me feel more in control of what goes on within my body.
I take around 40 pills a day, test and inject insulin more than a few times, remember 4 inhalers and do between 3 – 4 hours of treatments a day when I am well. This doesn’t even bat an eyelid at the doctors and allied health appointments or the logistical planning that I have to get done, which I would like to think gives me a little experience in this area. Let me tell you, it is a continued learning curve and one I haven’t always got right. What I hope though is that those lessons might be able to help others, so here are my tips for getting organised and feeling fabulous about your healthcare reigime:
This might sound like the meaning of mundane but instead try looking at it like this; when we create routine we allocate time for the things that are absolutely non-negotiable on a daily basis (for me – nebulisers, physiotherapy and gym sessions) and free ourselves to release and let go of it – it’s like putting those things in a tidy box to declutter the rest of our time. It doesn’t hang over our heads draining unnecessary energy and turn into something bigger than it is.
For me doing my treatments first up of a morning works really well, it means they are done and out of the way until the evening so they don’t drag on. My evening treatments are my unwind time – its like a free pass to do whatever I like – watch Netflicks, hang out on social media or read.
In creating structure and routine I know how much time I have to not do treatments and finding the time in the day to get them done (mostly) doesn’t become difficult and overwhelming. Once you find a routine that works for your needs, after a while it becomes a natural flow!
2. Get your drugs sorted
Whether they be pharmaceutical, natural medications or nutritional supplements, I swear there are little gremlins that sneak into the containers and leave only a dose or two at the bottom. Seriously, those things run out so darn quickly!
Constantly chasing prescriptions, multiple trips to the pharmacy and missing doses are all a drain on your time and energy so getting organised here is a great investment. Organising your medication/supplement cupboard with labels and sticky notes on the final box/bottle of each item so you know when things are low on stock, having a prescription and repeat tally sheet/notebook and keeping a single running ‘to order list’ are all ways that make life easier.
Pill boxes (or fishing tackle boxes from the hard ware store in my case) have also been game-changer for me – no more worrying about if you have taken a dose or missed a day and when you make these up a week at a time you have plenty of notice to re-order anything that is dwindling in supply.
3. Write it down!
Lists, lists and more lists. But organised ones. Despite my passion for pretty stationary, I have learnt you CAN have too many lists. They then become a frustration more than a tool.
I have already touched on the pharmacy ‘to order’ list I make but other things list worthy things for me are having a weekly meal plan to make sure I am nourishing my body in the way it needs; a list or way to document health changes (think addition of new medications, food reactions, abnormal symptoms – things that may be very helpful for you but wont necessarily make it into your formal medical history); an updated, comprehensive medication list in digital form to take with you for all those places that ask for them (new healthcare practitioners, beauty salons and fitness studios just to name a few) and of course a place to organise your appointments. I have been eying off this option from Kikki-K which would keep all of these things in the one spot!
4. Stock up your tool box
When you live with a chronic illness all the medical costs really add up (understatement of the year). Often the things that would make life easier but are not vital, fall off the radar. However sometimes it is these things that would save us time and energy that we could then use somewhere else. Value your time and energy by prioritising these things instead of seeing them as a luxury.
Some examples for me include – buying extra nebuliser sets (beyond the ones that are provided within our health care system) so I spend less time cleaning and sterilising; ensuring my nebuliser pump is working on the right pressure and delivering my medications correctly and as efficiently as possible – when it is not its time for a service or a new model; having a portable nebuliser pump that lives in the car to make use of travel time; having multiple blood glucose monitors (glucometers) so I am never scrambling for one when I need it, making it easy to stay on top of my numbers; have the best vacuum cleaner available to make sure our apartment is a healthy environment for my lungs and using technology where helpful for reminders, schedules or to help with my exercise routines.
I am currently testing out the new version of the My Fight Against CF app (current version available in app store) which I love the concept of. For younger patients I think the Pester device featured here and soon to be released, would be really helpful for encouraging children with their daily physiotherapy.
What could you add to your own tool box that would save you time and energy?
5. Get your clear on how you are thinking about your health
This is one of my biggest most important tips. How we feel about what we do largely determines our success. If you are hating your way through your treatments or appointments chances are your dedication to them isn’t going to be there and they are going to feel hard and tedious. Taking time to organise your thoughts is the most important out of any of the tips above!
Powerful goal setting is based on how you want to feel. Remember the point of our doing is being – not the other way around. So get clear on how you want to feel and why you are going to commit to being your healthiest self and then come up with a plan how to do it.
Once you have done this ask yourself these questions and align them with that goal –
What in your health regime is working really well? What doesn’t feel so great to you at the moment and what would you like more of or to make time to commit to adding?
For example if you are feeling resistant to a particular treatment ask yourself why you feel that way and based on your answer see if there is a way to make a change – perhaps you don’t feel it is working for you, you don’t understand the point of it, or you feel it is too time consuming? These are all things that can potentially be addressed with the help of your support team – even if the change you make can only be in the way you perceive the treatment, you might be surprised how much easier it feels to get done each day.
Having little affirmations or pictures of what you want to feel your healthiest self are really beneficial in remaining motivated and inspired. Placing them in spots you see them when you do your treatments is a simple way to help create change.