Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash

Life-work balance is so very important. Knowing what to say yes to, and deciding what you can circle back around to can be like walking on a wire. We have to learn how to triage so that we aren’t wasting precious time and energy on the things that in the long run will run their course regardless of our attention or not.

While we can cut out a lot from our lives, simplify, there are some choices that are made for us, for example, what does one do when we have to put our work life on hold or do a workaround if and when we are diagnosed with a serious medical condition?

I was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that can present some very interesting symptoms that can range from swelling, raspy voice, fatigue, inability to regulate body temperature, headaches, joint pain, and well, it ranges from day to day when left untreated. Basically, the body attacks itself, and mainly it goes after the thyroid, tricking it to produce or under-produce hormones. In my case, I developed hypothyroidism, which is generally the most common, but I also developed a highly enlarged thyroid gland. I’m very fortunate to have a physician who is on the ball, but I also had to do a lot of research on my own. I began to get curious as to why so much of this information isn’t readily out there and why so many fail to realize the options that we have. Yes, medication can and often does help, but there are often months of blood tests, ultra-sounds, biopsies if you have a growth, and much trial and error to find just what works for one person and it may not necessarily work for another. One has to customize their plan of attack, and sometimes, I just don’t feel good enough to do that on a daily basis. Again, I’m responding well, but there are two days (luckily, only two days) where I just might feel really, really bad. Those are the days where I spend my mornings wrapped in a blanket, sipping tea, at my desk in my at-home office. There have also been afternoons where after having an outing, running to the store, etc, I overdid it and had to put a small ice pack on my throat because my thyroid had swollen to the size of a small golfball. Yes, I know, that I will more than likely have to have something removed, and I am waiting to get to radiology to have my work done and meds adjusted, but like everyone else, I’ve got work to do. It is possible that I could be dealing with this for an entire month, and I have had to ask employers for a little leeway, as both work, doctor’s appointments, and labwork must all be done at the same time. Yes, sighs.

I do have a day job, the rest of what I do is fit snuggly in between, evenings, weekends, etc. I too, only have so many hours in the day, so I have had to learn the art of triage as well as attempting to schedule myself. I try to plan out the night before the three things that absolutely need to get accomplished, things that might have a deadline or someone that requires follow-up. I try to let people know in advance if I have an appointment, allow myself enough time to get that business taken care of, then work through an extra hour or whatever I can fit in to complete what needs to be done. Somehow, this does work, and I can keep everyone relatively happy, and include some self-care time for when I really need it. My health comes first because if I can’t be there fully, I can’t do my best, both at home and at the workplace. I’m actually thankful for the opportunity to be able to work from home, while I miss the interaction, it allows me flexibility in dealing with a personal life.

I’ve had to learn to pace myself, and I’ve also had to learn that there are times when I’m going to fail, and I have to let go. I’m honest enough to say that I can’t be there all the time for everyone, and I’ve had to humble myself and ask for help when I don’t have the ability. That has been the hardest for me because I get angry with myself when I feel like I’m not producing. I have a very strong work ethic and have had to learn that it is okay to refill your cup now and then.

My work-life plan is basically to schedule the night before what needs to be done, who needs to be contacted and make notes to follow up, check your appointments, plan to work around them if you can, and figure in commute time. My philosophy is to do what you can, take time for more snuggles, a few more naps when needed, reach for my beloved pet more often, and kick this disease in the rear as hard as I can. I am sharing because I hope this also helps someone out there.

I’m being gentle with myself, and I hope that if you have to let something go, you can with some sort of ease in knowing that you are making the right decision. Trust your instincts, but allow a little wiggle room.