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Chronic Fatigue: Optimizing My Day

When diet and life restrictions weren't enough to help manage my fatigue, I did two other things to help me get the most out of my day.
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If it makes you feel better, give it a name or change the name.  Insert name of illness here _______.  It doesn’t really matter what it is.  What matters is how it makes you feel.  How it disrupts your life, your day, your relationships with others.  What do you do when you are told there is no cure to fix what you have?  What do you do when you are too sensitive for the medication to provide symptom relief?  What do you do when even the adjusting of diet and more sleep doesn’t help?  What do you do to make it through the day from sunrise to sunset without collapsing at some point in between?

Prioritize

For me, life was in one of two modes. ‘Life mode’ and ‘survival mode’. Some days were pretty good – I could be in Life-mode.  Other days, not so much.  Usually I could tell before I even got out of bed which type of day it was going to be.  For those days, before they were constant, I just planned carefully.  The more frequent they became the more carefully I needed to plan. 

1. What MUST be done?

Not what do I think needs done, not what should be done, but scrape it down to what absolutely must be done.  What really matters?  What cannot be avoided for a single day?  For me it was making sure school happened and everyone was fed.  Everything else was fluff.  Yes, I love a clean house; I love clean clothes available to wear; I love…but sometimes you must operate in survival mode. 

a checklist with the categories of must do, need to do, should do, and would like to do
So, my MUST DO list
needed to be very short.

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    A. Take what must be done and schedule it in baby bites.

    At my worst, I needed to wait an hour between getting dressed and combing my hair.  Those things can be spaced out.  Those things can be done in baby bites of time.  In fact, the baby bites of time are crucial when it comes to eating a healthy meal in the evening as a family.  I had to resolve not to go to bed until I knew what I was going to be making for supper the next night.  

    males, 3d model, isolated

    That way, upon waking, I could start the prep work.  If vegetables needed peeled, I did that while my little kids were eating breakfast.  I needed to be in the kitchen anyway to make sure they were eating properly and not at risk of choking.  At lunch time, if there was any other prep work I could be doing, I did it at this time.  By doing this, the long task of preparing supper was broken down into three smaller segments.  It prevented me from needing to be standing for an hour straight to get it all done in the evening.

    laundry basket of clothes
    • Instead of doing all the laundry, do one load.
    • Give yourself a time limit not a job limit. I allowed myself x amount of time to clean up after supper each day.  If it didn’t get done, it would have to wait until tomorrow morning during breakfast. 
    • Have your meals planned for the next day, before going to sleep for the night.
    • Simplify when possible, the less stuff in my house, the less stuff I needed to clean up and take care of.
    • If I kept my To-Do-List really short, I accomplished my goal.  Anything else finished that day was a BONUS!

    B. Delegate whenever possible.

    I lived far from extended family and we lived in the country.  Our closest town wasn’t even an official township.  So, yes, sometimes even delegating can be difficult. 

    I really didn’t know what the next day would bring.  I had struggled with my health for over a decade.  So, early on I had chosen to make it a priority that by the age of three or four, my kids would be able to make a healthy meal for themselves and put the stuff away afterwards.  It gave them a sense of accomplishment and helped me out as well.  Yes, it was messy and took practice.  We did the teaching of this skill on the good days.  And let them do the practicing of the skill on my bad days. 

    I once heard that if you are helping your child to do something he is able to do, you are only hurting him in the long run.  Of course, they may not do as good of a job that you could or want them to but let them work on the skill until they get it.

    And if you are lucky, you have a supportive spouse or partner.  (He may not understand your illness, but who really does? I didn’t.)

    2. What makes it worth doing?

    This is SO important.   Why fight to make it through the day?  What is your reward to yourself for making it through the day?  If you don’t have a reason to push through the pain and fatigue, it makes it all the more difficult.  For me, it was being able to be there to kiss my kids good night one more time.  And if I was lucky, it also meant being able to sit outside for a few minutes after they had gone to bed.  I had a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains in our backyard.  Find a reason.  Dig deep and think hard and shoot for a tiny daily reward. 

    a checklist titled must do list with two categories, find a reason to press on and find a reward for doing so
    Find a reason.
    It makes a difference.

    Be Brave Enough to Take One More Try

    I know it sometimes hurts when hoping for something to finally work when struggling with health challenges.  But I want to give you hope anyway.  

    Get My Daily Support Guide for Invisible Illnesses

    I want to share with you what has worked for me.

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      white dog, golden retriever, animal

      The Meridian Clock is a Girl's Best Friend

      What is a meridian clock?  A meridian clock is the idea that different organs are assigned different parts of the day.  Depending on the time of day, certain organs are targeted.  For example, 5-7 pm was the kidney meridian clock.  This meant the ‘energy flow’ to the kidneys was strongest during this time of the day. 

      1. Track your day

      I do not know much about energy flow; I am not an expert.  But before I even knew about this meridian clock, I could tell without looking when it was 6:00 p.m. give or take 5 minutes.  Maybe that is why I was open to this idea.  Energy flow…if you say so.  But what I did notice was that for me, 1-3 p.m. and 5-7 p.m. were my weakest times of the day.  I wasn’t an expert about alternative medicine or acupuncture.  I didn’t have, nor did I need to know all the in’s and out’s of it all to optimize this information to help me.  To be honest, it probably took me a year to remember the entire clock.  It wasn’t a priority to me.  What was a priority was noticing which two-hour windows I needed to be careful around. 

      males, 3d model, isolated

      2. Plan your day

      When I had done all that I could do and still couldn’t make it through the day, I started tracking patterns.  When do I have the most strength, the most clarity of thought? When am I the most tired? At what time ‘must’ I lay down, etc.?  Even when the entire day is packed with fatigue, if I paid close attention, I could notice patterns.  Work with those patterns.

      little boy jumping on a trampoline

      What a backyard view...

      A. Monopolize on Patterns

      By knowing which areas were my weaknesses and strengths, it helped me to better plan my day.  I would schedule light activities during the times of day that I knew would be a challenge.  I noticed that if I could be outside or away from the computer during my ‘weakest’ time, I had more strength for the rest of the day than normal.  Or better yet, I used that time to be outside and work on relationships with my kids, even if it was just watching and talking to them while I just sat.  It mattered to them.

      I would also plan any necessary physical activity during the strongest part of my day.  This might be when I did most of the prep work for cooking or tackle one part of the house that probably shouldn’t be put off another day. 

      Be Brave Enough to Take One More Try

      I know it sometimes hurts when hoping for something to finally work when struggling with health challenges.  But I want to give you hope anyway.  

      Get My Daily Support Guide for Invisible Illnesses

      I want to share with you what has worked for me.

        By submitting this form, you are signing up to receive regular emails from me. We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.

        B. Using the Meridian Clock

        The meridian clock is broken into twelve segments.  It operates on the odd numbers, for example, 1:00-3:00, 3:00-5:00, 5:00-7:00, and so forth.  I had been told how 3:00-5:00 a.m. ‘works with’ the meridian at 3:00-5:00 p.m. in a give-and-take sort of way.  (Still over my head.)  I just focused on the segment of time that correlated with my weak areas.  That was about the extent of my knowledge. 

        Something I did notice was that although the meridian clock would run from odd number to odd number, what I did the hour before ‘the time’ came made a significant difference as well.  I needed to avoid eating anything the hour before ‘the time’ began.  I would also do a lot better if I drank some water at the beginning of ‘the time.’  For me, that meant, I needed to be done eating lunch by noon.  I would then drink a glass of water at 1:00.  Then take it easy and ride it out until 3:00.  It helped! 

        chart titled meridian clock guide, 5 to 7 am, large intestines; 7 to 9, stomach; 9 to 11, spleen; 11 to 1pm, heart; 1 to 3, small intestines; 3 to 5, bladder; 5 to 7, kidney; 7 to 9, pericardium (heart constrictor); 9 to 11, triple warmer (immune system); 11 to 1 am, gall bladder, 1 to 3, liver; and 3 to 5 am, lung.
        buckingham palace, foot guards, bearskins

        Protect Your DISH©

        Now here comes the part that is interesting.  I had fifteen years of this chronic fatigue.  Since this illness is NOT diagnosable, it is only through lack of anything else being the cause that it is given this name.  Well, when they finally found ‘my cause,’ it was a faulty pituitary gland.  I was 40 when they told me that I had a life expectancy of 38-42!  No known cure for that either.  Well, I am now approaching 52 and my pituitary gland is a non-issue now and my chronic fatigue is gone

        I know nay-sayers may suggest that it was never there to begin with…whatever.  I had it, but now I don’t.  Since so hard to diagnosis, some would like to claim it as a misdiagnosis.  A misdiagnosis for over ten years of my life?  If that is true, who should we blame for that? The doctor or the patient?  (I’m just saying…)

        I know what I know, and it is that…
        We don’t know WHAT we don’t know.

        1. Possible Cause

        During the darkest time of my health journey, I came up with a hypothesis that seemed to have propelled my health forward when it was in a downhill spiral.  I call it DISH©. 

        solve, jigsaw, problem

        DISH©: Defensive Individual Shield Hypothesis

        DISH© is a concept and term I came up with.  It has two jobs.  

        1. Shield the Body
        2. Sort what the Body Encounters

        When DISH© is doing its job, I am winning against my health challenges.  When it is NOT doing its job, I am losing.  

        ♦♦ It’s that simple. ♦♦

        (But not easy.)

        Can it help other people?  I don’t know.  It worked for me.

        I encourage you to read the other article I wrote specifically about possible causes of chronic health problems here.

        2. The 2 Main Ways I Protected My DISH

        Instead of looking for the one thing that is causing this health problem, maybe it is one thing that our body is doing – or failing to do – that is causing the problem.  So, to protect my DISH, the two main things I did was.

        1. Avoid all allergens; not an easy task, but worth it.
        2. Any supplements or medication I needed to take, I always kept within six to twelve inches of me. (usually in a baggie in my pocket or sock)

        It helped me.  If you are curious to know my reasoning behind this, check out my page on my website, here.

        Conclusion:

        Sometimes life is what it is and we can’t do anything about it, EXCEPT to work with it…not against it.  Yes, it is not fair and really stinks when our bodies do not want to do what we want them to do.  But as the old saying goes, ‘if you get lemons, make lemonade.’  Heed what your body is trying to tell you. You and your body will BOTH be better off.  Are you noticing patterns in your energy levels as well?  

        Be Brave Enough to Take One More Try

        I know it sometimes hurts when hoping for something to finally work when struggling with health challenges.  But I want to give you hope anyway.  

        Get My Daily Support Guide for Invisible Illnesses

        I want to share with you what has worked for me.

          By submitting this form, you are signing up to receive regular emails from me. We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.

          Other Sources for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis)

          maxliving.com

          cdc.gov

          healthline.com

          Cyndi Whatif
          Cyndi Whatif

          I am a patient turned author and guide. I share my hypothesis of an overlooked complementary body system which I believe determines whether or not a person has the opportunity to be well.

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