**My personal opinion only, and I live and let live*** Today is Norwegian Day, or something like that, and here in Ballard we have some big Norwegian Day parade that has been in existence as far back as I remember (1970s). I am half Norwegian, so you’d think I’d like this day, but in all honesty I don’t. When I think of Italians, I think of shouting and hugging and good food and family, when I think of Irish I think pubs and stories and green, but when I think of Norway I remember all the depressed, cranky, sarcastic Norwegians in my childhood and the cranky Norwegians I encountered on my one day trip to Oslo. Maybe it was the neighborhood, or maybe it was just the Norwegians I knew, but the Norwegian Day Parade does not conjure fond memories for me — I am much more proud of my Scottish and Irish blood (albiet it is a very small percentage of my heritage).
It is literally steamy outside. The air is reasonably heavy but the air is so filled with humidity it is hazy and almost smoky. We’ve had humidity before, but I don’t ever recall it being visible like this. Very cool. Luckily it is not too warm (70s).
Everyone says this, but you never truly believe you’ll ever be in your 40s. And you certainly never believe you will look at 31 years since your senior year in high school. It feels like yesterday, although I havent seen most of my class since graduation (I’ve skipped the reunions, although I enjoyed high school – waht is the point?). Some day soon I will (hopefully) say, I can’t believe I am in my 80s. The sad part is, when I was a teen I *never* thought I’d be as old as 40 (that was an eternity away) but now at 49 I can definitely see 80 on the horizon.
I was worried Daughter L was oversleeping today but it turns out it is senior skip day at her school :). I remember my senior skip day, 31 years ago (:() — I played golf. THat was just a few weeks after Jack Nicklaus had surprised the golf world by winning the Masters in his 40s. That was the year I loved golf so much I golfed 3 times a week (walked on as a single on Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and I was starting to play well enough that the golf coach asked if I’d consider playing golf, not realizing I was a senior. Funny how much I loved it then – I don’t feel that way at all now. I don’t know how you can have soo much passion for something then none at all.
For me, there are many crummy things about chronic illness, but the second worst of them all — after fatigue — is brain fog, i.e. the much harder challenge of keeping a clear thought.
Time was before my illness that my brain would whir to life and I could quickly motor off anything I needed to. Ask me the strategy to something, and I’d leap up on the whiteboard and starting jotting ideas down. But now, keeping clear thoughts is difficult. Answering any question that requires me to go into the memory bank is a challenge, and anything with some uncertainty or complexity is a challenge unless I have time to process. Spelling? I used to be great, because I would literally picture the word in my head and recite what I saw, but now I don’t see the word and am kind of stabbing in the dark.
Needless to say, this has made my job as an analytical sales person in a cutthroat industry hell. But I think I’ve developed a list over the past few years that has helped. I’m not 100%, or even 90%, but I’m getting better and I’v adapted.
Checklist in OneNote. OneNote is good because it’s free and I can access it from my computer, iPad or iPhone. What I do is make a checklist of each item at the office I have to get down, then I break it down to how much time to spend on it. For example: Answer emails – respond during morning coffee. Send out follow up reports from yesterday – 30 minutes. Send out status check note to 500 customers – 20 customers a day… I’ve noticed this is important – I’ll lose paper lists, or I start moving things around until it gets messy (I can cut and paste); also, I can keep a template that I copy and paste into a new Tab every day so every day I am starting with a fresh checklist. Plus, my razor sharp memory no where I was on a task has evaporated, so now I can search in OneNote to find out what I’ve done on something.
Stick with the Checklist. It is tempting that if I come to complexity in my checklist to pass it off until later. For example, if “Respond to email” includes an email that involves research, my temptation is to push it aside until later the day. But I’ve learned I need to take a short break, grab another cup of coffee, return and take the steps needed to complete that email. If I push it off, I start to get overwhelmed and fight the urge to shut down. So even it means taking a pause while I gather my energy, I do nothing else until complete that next task.
One Thing At A Time. My days of answering email while on a conference call, or making a phone call while waiting for my computer to re-boot, are over. So I have to focus on one thing at a time.
Take Breaks. The days of crazy 12 hour days are over. I have to take several breaks during the day to make sure I maintain the energy needed to keep brain fog at bay.
Accept the Inevitable. I will never be as crisp, sharp and productive as I once was. I can’t compare myself to the old me, which thankfully was 200% of most people (honestly). Instead, I have to focus on doing the best I can with what I have now. I this were a five-card poker me, the old me had six cards to choose from, the new me has 4 cards to work with (versus everyone else’s 5). I can’t worry that I used to have 6 or that some have 5, I just have to do the best I can with 4 and realize that I won’t win as much as I used to. That takes some pressure off.
Lots and lots of coffee. There is no way of getting around the fact that coffee is the new normal for me at the workplace. If there are side effects so be it, but I have to have the energy needed to keep my job and pay my bills. On the days where I need an extra burst of energy, I take a caffeine pill and pray for a “good” day.
My two cents. Since life gave me lemons, I’m doing the best i can to make a decent lemonade. (I’ve had to relearn how to do my to do list – I used to do it mostly by memory and prioritization, but that’s not possible anymore, and too long of a checklist is overwhelming 🙂 ).
I am always late. Usually 10 minutes, almost to the minute. When something is very very important and a special event (e.g. Interview) I am on time, but otherwise I am late. I think one of the reasons why is because I am results focused. That is, when I sit down to do something, I hate leaving it just to move on to an appointment. For example, if I am composing an email and it is 10:50 and I need to leave for an 11 o’clock meeting, I hate leaving that chore for later, since inevitably more emails pop up and I’m worried about losing my focus and train of thought. So usually I finish the email, then I am late to the meeting and people complain (usually as a passive aggressive tease or behind my back later 🙂 ). But no one mentions when I am late how I also tend to be a *lot* more productive than 99% of the people.
I don’t like being in a society where we judge literally by the minute versus completing a task. But it is the way of the world. So the world will just have to wait for me sometimes :). And I’ll just have to tolerate the criticism. After all, lets’s be honest, I am 48 and I’ve been like this my whole life – if I haven’t changed by now I’m not going to.
On a side note, I am rarely sick or call in sick or miss things – but I am late to them.
Our oldest is going through some serious emtional (depression) issues for the past six months, and especially the past two months. Will go days without getting out of bed, and has resisted therapy (except hormonal therapy prescribed by her dubious “doctor”) but now is open to seeing someone. I will start on this. I’m not looking forward to it, since I battle chronic fatigue and it’s all I can do every day to seem “normal” (I wish I had a nickel for every time a close friend tells me they forget that I have a chronic disease).
It is really hard to have a child going through this, the not getting out of bed for days, which strikes too close to home for me (my mom’s family is prone to this). Although I myself have battled depression at times, no one would suspect it and I make an extreme effort to keep fighting through those days best I can and in my entire life had only had maybe 1 day where I could not get out of bed (after staying out with friends till 7 AM, I slept and watched sports all the next day 🙂 ). Even after my lung surgery, I spent my days walking the hospital (with my IV and oxygen tank in tow 🙂 ) rather than laying in bed.
I’m not upset with my child, I just want to be able to help her. I don’t have the time or energy for this, but will have to carve out time/energy. 😦