For anyone touched by cystic fibrosis, the expression "there aren't enough hours in the day" is never far from the truth.
Having CF can be a full-time job in itself … except in this case, you are never off the clock. Between the countless medications, checkups and other requirements, it is very easy to lose track of time and feel overwhelmed. The transition from teenager to young adult was especially challenging in terms of managing time, but fortunately I have compiled a few tips that have helped me fit my treatments into my busy schedule while getting to enjoy life at the same time.
- Organize your medications ahead of time.
The night before I know I have work in the morning or another time-sensitive activity, I organize all my medications into one of those pill organizers you can find at any drug store. As individuals with CF and their caregivers know, pancreatic enzymes are crucial for our digestion of foods. But with these pill organizers, I am able to store all the pills and vitamins I will need for the following day and place them next to my car keys and wallet. This way, I am sure to not forget to bring them along for the busy day ahead.
- Wash your nebulizer on a schedule.
Nebulized medications are often a part of the CF morning routine. Cleaning your gear the night before use can help save crucial time in the morning. If you have multiple mouth pieces and equipment, try establishing a certain night to clean them to help you remember and keep you on track.
- Organize your outfits the night before.
Although this doesn't pertain directly to CF, it is a great timesaving technique that can lessen the hustle and bustle of a busy morning. I can't tell you how much time I've saved by simply picking out my shirt, pants and tie the night before a workday.
- List your medications.
In this age of technology, list making has become easier. I often keep a list of medications in my phone, and I also have kept a notebook in the past with a list of medications and the times I need to take them by. Listing your medications can help you prioritize and schedule your time more efficiently. It also comes in handy when you visit your CF doctor since you can easily tell them your medications and dosage.
- Go on autopilot.
During a busy day, the last thing we want to do is have to schedule appointments or order refills. To save you from adding more tasks to your day, go on autopilot. I have all my medications on automatic refill, and I try to schedule my doctor appointments ahead of time. This way, I can make sure I can attend without conflicts.
- If you have to, bring your medications with you.
As we all know, CF can be unpredictable … and frustrating. In addition to keeping certain medications with me during the day -- like enzymes or vitamins -- I also keep an extra inhaler or nebulizer in my car or office. There have been times when I've done treatments at work; it just depends on your comfort level. Which leads me to my next point …
- Don't be embarrassed.
CF can often feel like a scarlet letter. I've found that by being open with your co-workers and friends, you will be surprised by the level of support you will receive in return. There were times in the past when I would often lie about my CF treatments, but I have reached a point in my life where I have no shame in telling others what they're for. Not worrying what other people may think can be a weight lifted off your shoulders. Having a strong support system of family, friends and co-workers can help ride the storm that is CF.
- Allow for adjustments.
Plans don't always work out. If you miss a treatment or just don't have time for something, being flexible can help lessen the stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed. Although it is optimal to not miss a treatment, we are all human and it happens. The most important thing is getting the daily treatment done regardless -- and not being so hard on yourself should you have to adjust! Finding a system that works for you isn't easy; try and try again.
- Make time for YOU.
Schedule time for you; that is crucial. CF is a part of your life, but it does not define you. Make time for things that make you happy. You are not your disease. Winding down after a busy day is important and will give you the strength to do it all over again!