Illness can be just around the corner and you don’t know when it might strike. It is not something you think about as you go about your busy life, but you should. Certainly, as we age, the odds are high that we are going to face some type of illness that will stop us short, planned or not. Whether you are working or retired, single or married, you should have an illness coping plan in mind. Just the contemplation of such a scenario is cause to reflect on your approach to daily living. I learned that the hard way.
It started out innocuously enough. I had a cyst on my leg for over twenty seven years. The doctors said it was intertwined with blood vessels and better to leave it alone when I tried to get it removed. Then one day out of the blue it started to leak clear fluid. I was putting on Band-Aids and anti-infection cream. I thought once it quit leaking it would heal.
Then I thought I was coming down with the flu. I worked from home as we had a large conference coming up and no one in the office wanted to get sick. Bang! In twenty four hours I found myself in the hospital with septic shock and cellulitis. I was there on morphine for over a week, and off work, with my leg up high and limited mobility for another five weeks. The conference came and went and my recovery time ran right up to the Christmas season. No shopping, baking or decorating.
All that ensued has made me reassess my approach to daily routine as well as implement some changes both at home and at work to prepare for a future unexpected illness.
Are You The “Sole Keeper” of Things, Information or Process?
Don’t be. Being the only one who knows does not make you indispensable. It makes you, your family and/or company vulnerable. Look for ways to have key information available and accessible by others when needed. Identify someone in your family, circle of friends or organization that you share where and how to access key information.
Do You Have A Filing System That Is Accessible, Organized and Understandable?
Where will you be sending your designate to find insurance coverage, important papers, or receipts to file your income tax if you can’t get to it? The messy kitchen drawer, the box in your closet, the hard drive on the computer in your briefcase, or your phone locked down behind a password with a dead battery? Think about how people will need to access key information and the state of it.
Can Someone Access Your Home, Vehicle, Phone and Computer?
Make sure that someone off site of your home and work has a backup key to your car, home and office. Those with a home based business or office can be especially vulnerable. Most of us don’t remember phone numbers, passwords, or card numbers without our cell phone or computer. Communicating key information to your husband, children, friends, boss or workmate is not be possible when spaced out on medication. Imagine the stress of thinking a car is sitting in the emergency bay indefinitely or a key meeting without an agenda.
How Will You Maintain an Income Stream?
Consider Income Insurance if you are self-employed or know if you are entitled to sick days or Long Term Disability benefits abd how to access it. Again, trying to do this from a hospital bed with no access to your work directory can slow the process down for you and your designate. You are tired, sick and not working on all cylinders. Worrying about how you will pay the bills only adds stress.
Do You Have An Emergency Comfort Kit?
A pretty small bag filled with a light housecoat, slippers or flip flops, a toothbrush, some underwear, lipstick, mascara, face wipes, deodorant, moisturizer, brush, pen and notebook with key info is a must and should be sitting inside your closet ready. Using those indecent hospital gowns and asking for grooming supplies from busy nurses adds frustration. It took multiple trips by my husband and daughter to get these things to me. Just putting on lipstick and my own slippers made me feel better.
Can You Embrace Being Ill?
I think this was the hardest part. Life is not fair, circumstances suck, but a positive frame of mind goes a long way to supporting your recovery. Instead of railing against the situation, choose to get rest, nurture your body with healthy food, your mind with good reading, and your psyche with positive, vibrant people through visits and phone calls. Be grateful and graceful to those taking care of you. Fill your world with good energy. All these things will lift your spirits and your body.
Can You Accept The World Will Move On Without You?
What??? I mean this from the kindest place. My own perspective is I am somewhat of a workaholic and a control freak. In the end, the fifty hour work weeks, the busyness of my days and the reliance by others on me really is quite meaningless and even self-induced. The conference was successful without me. My children managed to feed themselves and everyone got to work without my alarm clock. We are in a rut so setting time aside to reflect on your routine is recommended. Are there ways to minimize the demands and focus more on yourself?
This year I am challenging myself to move to #WeToMeNow. I want my life to reflect me and not what others need from me but what I have to give to others? Living healthy is a priority as a measure of wellness is needed.
I challenge you to give some thought to planning for an unexpected illness while you have a choice.