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Prioritizing My To-Do List on a 'Good Day' With Lupus

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Monday morning provided a sense of relief for my barometrically battered body from waves of storms ravaging Southern California the past few weeks. The storms have brought welcoming nourishment to our parched land, allowing me to take joint-relieving baths without guilt. But, they also brought flash floods, mudslides, and slippery roads. I spent much of the past weeks curled up in bed and monitoring my pain meds more carefully than usual, as I was needing more. Typical level four days where I needed little turned into level eight days on the pain scale.

Monday was different. The sun was out, the clouds were almost gone, the grass was green, the birds were singing, and I was back at level four. Monday was going to be a good day!

I turned on the weather and pulled out the calendar. To plan appropriately, I wanted to see how long this good feeling would possibly last. (I say possibly because with lupus and fibromyalgia, one does not simply know with certainty how long a good feeling will hold.) Three more waves of storms were expected throughout the week beginning Wednesday. On the calendar, Monday evening was my methotrexate evening which meant Tuesday and Wednesday would be challenging. Between the weather and medications, Monday was looking like my only good day for at least an entire week. I needed to take careful advantage.

Monday was also Martin Luther King Day. No school for my daughter, YiLan, but my husband still had to go to work. Therefore, no parade, no museum, no beach, and no major excursions too far from home. What to do?

I made a prioritized to-do list. 1. Do something fun but low impact with YiLan. 2. Plan meals for the week and get groceries. 3. Go to the mall and find a dress for my son’s wedding. 4. Take YiLan to basketball practice. 5. Walk and play Pokémon Go. 6. Finish the laundry before the storms flooded the garage again (laundry is in there.)

I noticed something about the list. Before lupus, number six would have been number one and would have included many other household chores that my husband and children have taken over since I became ill. If household chores were done well and timely, then we would have done something fun.

Since lupus, the list has been turned upside down. My good days are too precious to spend only on chores especially given the lack of them lately during this rainy season. Yes, the laundry is important. But I can do a load here and there as pain meds and the stormy week permit.

I zeroed in on the most important item: My 14-year-old daughter who is growing quickly with or without me. I decided Monday she would grow with me.

We decided to paint ceramics at a shop near the grocery store. We helped choose each other’s items. She painted a butter dish. I painted a tea set. We talked about colors. We talked about designs. We talked about boys. We talked about high school. We talked about basketball. We gossiped. We laughed. For three hours, we were simply mother and daughter. It was glorious!

We got a few other things done too, like groceries, basketball, and Pokémon Go. Four of the six items on the to do list were completed. That’s a great day for me.

Next week we shall pick up our ceramic pieces after they have been glazed and fired. I am excited to bring them home. It doesn’t matter if they turned out. They will often remind me of how I spent my one good day of the week. Thank you, lupus, for reminding me to prioritize my good day to-do lists appropriately. Family connection comes first!

Originally published: January 18, 2017
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