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I'm a planner. I always have been. The New Year is one of my favorite holidays. Time for a new planner to fill in and start using. I like to look at my week on Sunday night and know what I'm going to be doing on Monday morning.

Why did a person who loves planning go into medicine? That's one of the most unpredictable professions there is! Especially when you deliver babies. One birth could throw off my entire week! That being said, I was part of a 10-12 person group of physicians with additional mid-level providers that provided a cushion. I knew when my clinic hours were. If I was called away for an emergency, my assistant would reschedule my patients or see if they could be seen by another provider. Since we had a call schedule, I could plan to be at my kids' recitals or games. And I would take my share of call so they could do the same. While it wasn't completely regimented, we had built into the craziness some space to let us have control over our time.

Being a planner while having chronic illness is problematic, though. I have had acute migraine for the last three days and haven't gotten much at all done on my to-do list. I still make my to-do lists every Sunday night. Every morning I look at what I've planned. Every night I evaluate what I've done and plan for the next morning. And with migraine, there's not a lot that gets done.

It's not only the headaches that keep me from doing things. I have chronic fatigue that is worse right before and after the acute migraines. I wish I could explain the fatigue. It's a feeling beyond tired. My brain is fuzzy and it's hard to think. My limbs feel so heavy. The idea of going downstairs to put in laundry or straightening up the kitchen is just overwhelming.

I've had to become very flexible. I write down my to-do list at night and then do what I can the next day. Some days, I knock out my to-do list and go looking for more. More often, I do a couple of things on the list and move some things to the next day. Items that have a time limit, like picking up meds from the pharmacy, quite often get passed on to Patrick to do.

Chronic migraine has turned my life upside down. Having to become more flexible is just one of the things that I've had to change. I'm thankful for a husband who goes with the flow better than I do. I'm getting the hang (after 13 years!) of taking things one day at a time.

If you have a chronic illness, how do you manage the vagaries of planning?


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