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organize your medications

7 Tips to Organize Your Medications

by Jennifer Crystal

7 Tips to Organize Your Medications, from One Lymie to Another

 

Every Sunday morning, I pull out a big bag of pills and set about organizing my medications for the week. The bag holds over 20 bottles of medications; when I was at my lowest, that number was closer to 40. I spread the medicines on my kitchen table and then sort them into a box with compartments for breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime pills for each day of the week. A friend once witnessed this weekly ritual and remarked, “Wow, if you ever apply for a management position, you have great organizational skills to put on your resume.”

We laughed, but the level of organization it takes to manage Lyme medications is no joke. Most patients take at least as many pills as I do, and some also have to infuse intravenous antibiotics once or twice a day. There are different rules for each medication: some have to be taken with food; some can’t be taken with food; some can be taken with meals but not with food or vitamins containing certain minerals. Some, like the anti-malarial medications for babesia, have to be taken with fatty foods like peanut butter or mayonnaise. Then there is the timing: some pills have to be taken an hour before breakfast; probiotics have to be taken at least two hours before or after antibiotics, or the antibiotics will negate them. Some pills have to be taken right before bed.

When all is said and done, it doesn’t seem like there are enough hours in the day to take all of the medications at the proper times. You have to spend the day sitting in front of your pill bottles, trying to figure out which one to take next or to remember which ones you’ve already taken. This can be especially frustrating for Lymies compromised by fatigue, confusion and brain fog. It can make you want to throw your hands up and shout, “there must be an easier way!”

There is. While there isn’t yet one magic pill to cover all tick-borne illnesses, there are some ways to manage your medications, and your daily tasks, without losing your mind or missing a dose. Here are some strategies that have helped me:

  1. Get a weekly pill box: This box allows you to sort out your pills for various times of the day. You can fill it once a week, like I do on Sundays, and then you can put all those pesky bottles away and not worry about them for another seven days. These boxes help you to remember if you’ve taken your pills, too; if the lunch compartment for Monday is empty and it’s now Monday afternoon, then you know you’ve taken them. Keep the box out where you can see it, like on the kitchen counter. These weekly boxes are available at any pharmacy or online.
  2. Get a smaller weekly pill box for the in-between times: Some patients need to take pills more than four times a day. You can buy a weekly pill box that only has one or two compartments. Label it with the times you need, like “mid morning” and “mid afternoon,” and keep it right next to your bigger pill box.
  3. Get a palm-sized pill box for dining out: I used to sheepishly pull out a Ziploc bag at restaurants, trying to hide it under the table as I surreptitiously took my pills. No more. They now sell small, circular pill boxes that are discreet in design (mine is silver with a swirly pattern on top) and hold 4-5 large pills. I still have to pull it out at meals, but it’s a little less obvious (another option is to bring a water bottle in your bag and take the pills in the restroom). You can also pop this container in your bag so that you’ll have your pills with you when you’re out doing errands or going to doctor’s appointments. Some pharmacies sell them; you can also find them online and at many gift shops.
  4. Make a list of dosing instructions: Make one master list of when each pill needs to be taken and with what stipulations (with food, without food). Keep it with your pill bottles so that you can refer to it each week when you fill your compartments. If you have trouble reading or get confused by instructions, have someone read the instructions off your pill bottles and make the list for you. Learning these instructions can also help you determine the best time of day to take certain pills (for example, my antibiotic can’t be taken with a certain vitamin I take at breakfast, so I take it at lunch).
  5. Set alarms on your phone: It can be hard to remember to stop and take pills, especially ones that don’t go with meals. Set recurring alarms for the times of day you need to take medicine, including times when you need to take probiotics. It won’t even seem strange if the alarm goes off while you’re waiting in line at the pharmacy; everyone sets reminders on their phones these days.
  6. Keep bedtime pills on your night table: I keep two pill bottles on my night table: one for a pill I take to sleep, and one for a pill I have to take an hour before breakfast. It can be hard to remember whether or not I’ve taken them (especially if I take the early morning pill and then fall back asleep), so I’ve developed a system: Each night, I turn the bottles upside down. After I’ve taken the pills, I turn the bottles right side up. That way, if I fall asleep and can’t remember, I can look at which way the bottles are facing and know whether I’ve taken my medicine.
  7. If you are infusing antibiotics, have a family member take our your bolus from the refrigerator: When I was on intravenous antibiotics, my refrigerated bolus had to warm up for at least an hour before I could infuse. If I slept late, or forgot to take the bolus out when I woke up, my infusion time got pushed later than it was supposed to be. I started asking a family member who was up early to take out my bolus for me, so it would be ready when I came downstairs each morning. Family members often want to feel like they can do something to help, so they’ll feel good about having this tangible task.

In addition to managing medications, Lymies must also remember how they feel day to day, so that when they go to the doctor, they can give an accurate report. I used to stare at my doctor blankly and then say, “Well that’s hard to answer—it’s been so up and down…” So, I started keeping a daily log. Each day I record how I slept, how I felt, what I ate, what I did or couldn’t do, and any other pertinent information such as outside stressors. Before each doctor visit, I review my daily logs, charting patterns and flagging symptoms. Then I write up a synopsis and give it to my doctor before the appointment. This helps me to better articulate how I’m feeling, helps my doctor to better understand what my days/weeks/months are like, and helps us both to make informed decisions about my health. Since not everyone’s a writer, you can also give your doctor a bulleted list.

Having Lyme is tough, and organizing it can be even tougher. I give major props to Lyme patients who are keeping tabs on their medications and diets and daily routines while trying to survive this disease. Hopefully these tips will make your task a little easier.


Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.

Jennifer Crystal is a writer and educator in Boston. She is working on a memoir about her journey with chronic tick-borne illness. Contact her at [email protected]

A Lymie’s View from 39

by Jennifer Crystal

Birthdays and milestones can have a different meaning for Lymies and people with a chronic illness.

 

When I was six or seven years old, I asked a great-aunt how old she was. Winking at my grandmother, she replied, “I’m 39.” I understood 39 to be the last good year, the last decent age before it all started to go downhill; the year by which so many life goals are supposed to have been achieved. I didn’t worry too much, though, because 39 was always a long way off. By then I would be married, have a family, be settled in my career and stable in my life.

That was before I lost a decade to illness.

I turned 39 last month and it looks a lot different than I’d imagined, which is not to say it looks bad. My tick-borne illnesses have been in remission for years. I am writing and teaching, skiing and socializing. I’m living on my own. The view from 39 is certainly better than it was at 29, when I was in the midst of a relapse, back at my parents’ house, pulled away from my independent life for a second time.

That year I wrote in my journal, “I’m turning 29, and what do I have to show for it?” It was a sentiment I felt many times throughout the harrowing years of illness. Unable to work or even leave the house except for doctor’s appointments and trips to the pharmacy, I questioned my self-worth. Birthdays didn’t feel like celebrations; they were reminders of all that I wasn’t doing, all that I couldn’t do, all that I might never do. They were reminders of another year passing by while I struggled to survive.

What I didn’t understand then is that fighting tick-borne illness is an achievement of its own. Getting well was my full-time job, and I was working overtime. Though I often felt awful, I made strides. I was going to neurofeedback, integrative manual therapy and talk therapy appointments. I was taking all of my medications and supplements. Twice a day, I infused intravenous antibiotics and cleaned my own PICC line. I was working through the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual upheaval of being sidelined by illness, and that was certainly worthy of celebration.

I did not yet understand that success is not defined by a career, money or status. Of course, I wanted all of those things, and still think it’s important to support yourself through a job you love. That’s something I’ve worked towards in my thirties. But the fact that it wasn’t possible during the lowest point of illness did not mean that I have nothing to show for those years. I still had my character. I still had my values. I still had my sense of humor. And those qualities deserved to be celebrated.

Still, 39 is not what I expected it to be. I’m not married. I don’t have a family of my own. I am working hard but am not fully settled or stable in my career. I’m grateful for how far I’ve come, but I still want all those other things, and I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel some angst about not having them by this age. Most of my contemporaries are married with kids and mortgages and careers that allow for nice vacations. I love those friends and feel connected to them, but I’m not on the same track as them. My major detour puts me more on track with friends who are 29, because they are at the same point in their careers and personal lives as I am.

But the fact is, I’m not 29. As much as I can appreciate all that I went through in my late twenties and early thirties, I can’t get those years back. My body is aging. When I went skiing this year, I fell on some ice and remarked, “I don’t remember it hurting like this when I was younger. I would just get up and keep going.” I kept going this year, too, but spent the next day icing my sore spots and taking ibuprofen. I’m getting wrinkles around my eyes. Once in a while I pluck a silver hair from my head. My hands are getting veiny the way my mom’s and grandmother’s did at my age. I can’t blame those signs of aging on Lyme disease; I’m simply getting older.

The reality is that my biological clock is ticking. That scares me. But I’m also still holding out hope. During years of illness when I thought I might spend the rest of my life in bed, I nurtured a glimmer of faith, and it worked. I got better. Maybe not as fast as I wanted to, but it did happen. So I have to have faith that I will achieve all my other goals, too, even if they’re not happening in the time frame I’d always imagined.

If my great-aunt and grandmother were alive today, I might wink at them and say, “Maybe by the time I’m 40.”


Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.

Jennifer Crystal is a writer and educator in Boston. She is working on a memoir about her journey with chronic tick-borne illness. Contact her at [email protected]

Groundhog Day: Casting a Shadow on Lyme Disease

by Jennifer Crystal

The repetitiveness of living with Lyme disease can feel like Groundhog Day, over and over again.

 

When I was studying in France, I had dinner with my landlady on Groundhog Day. Except, as I describe in my memoir Et Voilà, “there are no groundhogs in France, so February 2nd is instead marked by a national celebration of crêpes.” As we sat down to a decadent meal of savory and sweet crêpes, I tried to explain to my landlady the tradition of Punxsutawney Phil. She gave me a look that said, you must just sound crazy because you don’t speak French well.

Now that I am fluent in another language—Lyme disease—I have similar trouble explaining myself. Because so many of our symptoms are interior, Lymies have difficulty getting healthy people to understand how we’re feeling. One aspect that’s particularly tough to communicate is the repetitiveness of the disease: days that roll into one; daily medication routines; obsessive thoughts; word and song iteration. Lymies tend to feel like Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day, when his character discovers he is stuck living the same day over and over.

Unfortunately, our problems don’t resolve in the span of a two-hour movie. Instead, we find ourselves playing out the same scenes day in and day out. When I was at my sickest, I’d go to bed hoping I’d feel a little better in the morning, and wake up feeling either exactly the same, or worse. Because of Herxheimer reactions and the ebb and flow of Lyme treatment, the worse-before-better phenomenon became frustratingly common. With each new day, I didn’t know if I’d move forward, stay put or take two steps back. Rarely did I take a step forward, and even when I did, it would be quickly followed by one or more steps back.

Most days I’d wake up feeling like I hadn’t slept. Sometimes I was exhausted from eight or more hours of harrowing nightmares. I’d want to roll over and go back to sleep, but couldn’t. I had to stick to a very specific medication routine. Each morning I’d attach a bolus of antibiotics to my Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter (PICC line) and watch it drip for an hour while I ate breakfast. Due to dietary restrictions, that breakfast didn’t vary much. Afterwards I’d swallow at least ten pills of various shapes, sizes, and colors, then eat a spoonful of peanut butter, the fatty food necessary to absorb a glowing anti-malarial syrup often referred to as “liquid gold”.

After breakfast I’d try to send a few emails, though that was dependent on how stiff my fingers were and how thick my brain fog. Some days I could write paragraphs, and eventually wrote pages of my book. Other days I couldn’t type or hold a pen, and couldn’t concentrate on even one sentence. On those mornings I’d retreat back to bed, sometimes dozing off but often just lying there, listening to the clock tick.

This went on until lunch, when I’d break for another meal and more pills, and then I’d try again, often unsuccessfully, to nap in the afternoon. I’d get up in the evening when my family came home and would try to sit at the table long enough to hear about their days, which had variety. They did different things at work and school. They had meetings in different locations. They had coffee with different people. They meant well when they asked me, “And how was your day?” but the question made me cringe, because I always gave the exact same report. After awhile, I was able to drive myself to appointments, meet friends for lunch, and tutor high school students in French. But for a long time—years—my days were very, very quiet.

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That’s not to say my brain was quiet. Though I didn’t give it much fodder since I couldn’t read, watch TV, or focus on audiobooks or music, the spirochetes in my head latched onto a time my brain could do all those things. Each day I’d wake up with a song in my head. There was no rhyme or reason to which song my brain picked; when I woke up it was just there, playing over and over and over as a perpetual soundtrack for the day.

Everyone knows how annoying it is to have a song stuck in your head. But imagine what it’s like when you’re bedridden and can’t go out into the world and do something to make you forget the song. Imagine what it’s like when your head already feels like its filled with molasses, when you are exhausted but can’t sleep, when you have nothing to do but lie there and “listen”.

Sometimes, it wasn’t just one song. As the day went on my brain would add to its repertoire, so that I’d have three or four tunes playing at once. This cacophonous mashup made me want to shake my head and scream.

It wasn’t just songs that were stuck in my head, either. Ideas played on repeat, too. Many Lymies describe having obsessive thoughts. For me, it was like I had a voice in my head narrating lines from my book or reactions to conversations I was a part of. It would read those lines again and again. The needle in my head was stuck. My world was not quiet; it was maddeningly repetitive.

Now that I’m in remission, I can tell when I’m having a flare-up, because I start thinking of everything twice. It’s not a conscious choice. It’s just the place my brain goes when its overtired. That’s a sign for me to rest, to have a neurofeedback session, to get some cranial sacral therapy. No matter how well I’m doing, I still always have a song in my head. Always. Right now it’s “Payphone” by Maroon 5. I’m not at a payphone—haven’t used one in years, in fact—but that’s where my brain is. Luckily, my daily songs play in the background now, because so much living is happening in the foreground. The songs and the occasional word iteration are bearable, because in general, I am taking daily steps forward. I am even back to eating (gluten-free) crêpes.

I lived the movie version of Groundhog Day for a long time. I promise you, with proper treatment the long winter does eventually end. Here’s hoping that Punxsutawney Phil will not see his shadow this week, and you will have an early spring.


jennifer-crystalOpinions expressed by contributors are their own.

Jennifer Crystal is a writer and educator in Boston. She is working on a memoir about her journey with chronic tick-borne illness. Contact her at [email protected]

Never Give Up

by Jennifer Crystal

Lessons for Lymies from Winston Churchill and the Chicago Cubs

 

During the most intense period of my treatment for tick-borne illness, I lived with my parents and sometimes other family members. I shifted bases between their homes, grateful for the support of all, but keen to spread out the burden of caregiving. I did the hour-long drive between my mom’s and dad’s more times than I can count, traveling on a long, winding desolate road that connects two major highways in my home state. The route through rundown factories and old cemeteries was peppered with billboards. Among the advertisements for used car dealerships and discount insurance was a huge sign with a quote from Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never give up.”

That sign always gave me pause. Sometimes the drive took all my energy for the day. Sometimes I was too sick to be at the wheel, and one of my parents had to drive me. Sometimes I was in the midst of a Herxheimer reaction, getting the ride in early before the migraine and achiness and frequent trips to the bathroom made it impossible for me to be in the car. Sometimes I gripped the wheel or the passenger seat wondering if I would ever again have a home of my own, if I would ever be able to drive more than an hour, if I would ever feel well again.

The Churchill quote reminded me that in the middle of despair, when it’s least expected, we can come upon signs of hope. And it’s up to us to hold on, to keep traveling the difficult road, until we see them.

I was reminded of this lesson earlier this month when, after 108 years, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Despite their team being called “Loveable Losers,” Cubs fans held out hope for generations. The players went out every year determined that this could be the one. This year, it was.

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The victory was the stuff of history books, and not just because it took108 years. It was the kind of nail-biting, late-night win usually seen only in movies. Following the Cleveland Indians’ 3-1 lead in the Series, the Cubs battled from behind to win two more games and force a seventh game tie-breaker. They were leading for most of that game, but the Indians suddenly took the lead in the eighth inning. The game tied in the ninth, going into extra innings, and then there was a rain delay. The possible victory could not have been more drawn out. Fans huddled together in the stands and the streets during the 17-minute delay. Players huddled together in the weight room, encouraging each other.

The rains came and minutes later, the 108-year drought was over.

My home state may be in New England—caught between the biggest team rivalry in baseball—but I was cheering for those Cubs as heartily as any Midwesterner. Because I know the road they’ve traveled. I know how easy it is to give up. And I know how much sweeter the victory is when you don’t.

I receive emails every day from patients who want to throw in the towel. Some are in the throes of Lyme treatment and can’t understand why they’re feeling worse instead of better. Some haven’t been accurately diagnosed because of the poor state of diagnostic testing or physicians misinformed about Lyme. All of them are desperate.

I know when you are in the depths of despair that it feels anything but temporary. There were times when I was curled in the corner of a room at one of my parents’ houses, sobbing and shaking, certain I couldn’t hold on another minute, another second. I never ever would have believed when I was bedridden that I would one day attend graduate school, publish a book, or teach writing classes. That I would one day live in my own apartment. It happened for me because I didn’t give up, and that can happen for you too.

Don’t just take my word for it. Look to other patients who have wrestled with Lyme, like Ally Hilfiger, author of Bite Me, and Katina Makris, author of Out of the Woods. Look at the incredible new research being done every day to create better diagnostic tools and treatments. This year Global Lyme Alliance received a record number of applications for research funding. Scientists at top-tier universities in the United States, Australia, France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom are all working to get to the bottom of tick-borne disease. They’re all working to make our lives better. And that means we can’t give up: on them, on ourselves, on hope.

With new research and increased awareness, I’m sure we won’t have to wait 108 years for our victory—or even a small fraction of that.  Better diagnostics, better treatment, greater understanding, and maybe even a cure are closer than we think. We just have to hold onto hope. We must never, never, never give up.


Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.

Jennifer Crystal is a writer and educator in Boston. She is working on a memoir about her journey with chronic tick-borne illness. Contact her at [email protected]

Searching For Home When You’re Stuck in Lyme Land

by Jennifer Crystal

Where are you from? It’s a standard question, asked as casually as “How are you?” or “What do you do?” In today’s world, however, there isn’t always a standard answer.

 

I have friends who were born in one country, raised in another and now work in a third. My response—“I live in Boston, but I’m originally from Connecticut”—isn’t quite as cosmopolitan as those of my friends, but it still gives pause. It inevitably leads to the follow-up question, “So how did you get from there to here?” To that, there certainly isn’t a simple answer.

My journey from Connecticut to Massachusetts included stops in Washington, DC, Vermont, Paris, and Colorado, but the trajectory wasn’t as glamorous as it sounds. It also involved a long layover in Lyme land. Literally, that means I spent years recuperating in my childhood bed in Connecticut, the state in which Lyme was first discovered. I spent years there in what felt like an alternate universe—completely separate from the healthy, social, active life I’d once known.

In her book Illness as Metaphor, Susan Sontag wrote,

Illness is the nightside of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born   holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and the kingdom of the sick…   sooner or later, each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as   citizens of that other place.

Lyme patients are cast suddenly and severely into that darker place. Banished by the mere bite of a tick, we are unwitting citizens of the land of illness, not wanting—and often unwilling—to claim it as home. Before I got sick, I saw home as my physical environment. As a skier, I often sought out mountain towns where I felt a connection to the land, the people, and their way of life. When tick-borne illness forced me to leave Colorado, the place I then called home—I felt displaced.

Too sick to care for themselves, many Lyme patients have to move “home”—often to their parents’ house, a place that is no longer home for most adults. Some move in with other relatives, or with friends. No matter where we land, most of us lose two homes in the process: the physical place where we once lived, and the healthy kingdom we once inhabited. And while we appreciate those who open their houses and care for us, the loss of the places and lives we called our own leaves us feeling stranded. Long-term illness is terribly lonely and isolating.

To survive Lyme, I had to turn my definition of home on its side. Feeling disconnected from my physical environment and life, generally I had to really think about myself as a voyager. What parts of myself did I bring with me, no matter where I went? What grounded me, no matter where I lived or what I could do? For me, the answer was my sense of humor, my tenacity, my faith and friends who extended bridges of  kindness.

I still rely on those things because even though I’m now in remission I’m often still in unchartered territory. Anyone who re-emerges from the kingdom of the sick finds themselves on uncertain ground. There’s a sense of reverse culture shock as we try to get back to work, to activities, to social lives. We can’t always trust how people will respond to us, especially regarding Lyme. Will the person I’m meeting be Lyme literate? Will she or he understand the kingdom from which I’ve come from?

I didn’t expect my journey to take such a sharp detour. My life hasn’t wound up where I expected it to be. But Lyme did lead me to discover a lot about myself. Most importantly, it led me to writing. I’d wanted to be a writer since I was a child, but it was a forgotten dream during my active, healthy days; I was too busy with other pursuits. Now writing is my pursuit. It grounds me more than anything else. So in a way, Lyme has actually led me home.


Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.

Jennifer Crystal is a writer and educator in Boston. She is working on a memoir about her journey with chronic tick-borne illness. Contact her at [email protected]

Tackling To-Do Lists When You’re Too Tired To Do So

When Lyme, or any chronic illness, turns once mundane tasks into the near impossible.

 

by Jennifer Crystal

With the calendar turned to September, school has started and life for many people has picked up speed. A new school year brings new schedules to juggle, and to-do lists that grow longer by the day. Everyone has a to-do list, whether you have kids or not, and even in this technological age, staying on top of tasks can be overwhelming.

For Lymies, or anyone who is sick, overwhelming can quickly shift to impossible.

In my healthy days, chores like “empty the dishwasher” or “set the table” were just part of daily life, not tasks I had to think about and plan for. My to-do lists had items like “clean garage” or “call so-and-so back,” and while some of those tasks slipped by the wayside, I could generally organize and prioritize them without much stress. All of that changed when I got sick. Suddenly, I had to choose between making the phone call or setting the table, because doing both—let alone at the same time!—would wear me out to such an extreme that I might suffer for days.

I remember telling a friend, over the phone, that I was mad at myself for having done the laundry that day, because I wasn’t able then to go to dinner with my family. “If I’d saved my strength, I might have had the energy to go out,” I lamented. She replied, “Maybe you should talk to your therapist about not obsessing over such little decisions.”

The thing is, they weren’t little decisions, at least not at the time. It was 2007; after more than a year of successful treatment, I’d relapsed. Back on antibiotics and bedridden once more, my physical and neurological symptoms were worse than they’d ever been. I struggled with basic functions like showering and preparing meals.

Now, from a standpoint of wellness, I can see how absurd choosing between laundry and dinner must have sounded to my friend. I can understand that for a healthy person, parsing out one’s energy in such minute ways can seem obsessive. But for a Lymie, it’s reality.

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I’ve yet to meet a patient of any illness who has dedicated energy to cleaning their garage; priorities simply shift when you’re ill. But what about things that have to get done? The phone call to insurance that must be made if you want your medication to be covered? The appeal letter that must be written when that coverage is denied again? With Lyme, these simple tasks become missions that are so overwhelming they can be paralyzing. Worse, the stress brought on by not being able to do them—but knowing you have to—can send a Lyme patient into a tailspin of anxiety, causing spirochetes to rev up and symptoms to increase. It’s a vicious cycle, and it can feel like there’s no way out.

One night during my relapse, I shared this conundrum with a different friend on a different phone call, one that proved to be worth my energy. He didn’t belittle my concerns. Instead, he suggested that I think about all of the tasks I needed to complete in a week, and then create a separate to-do list for each day. I wrote out a long list of everything on my plate, and then together we prioritized what absolutely had to get done and when. Next, we put tasks together in manageable groups. Drying my hair and ironing could not be done on the same day. If I made an insurance call on Monday, I wouldn’t make another until Thursday. The real clincher was, if something was scheduled for Thursday, I was not allowed to worry about it until then. “It’s on Thursday’s list,” my friend said. “You can’t think about it until then.”

This advice was game changing for me. Life—beyond the stressors and physical pain—became manageable, and that invariably helped me to heal faster. Now that I’m feeling so much better, I still make to-do lists in the same way, because I know doing so will help me maintain my health. I need to continue to function at a steady pace. When my mind starts to slip into worrying about what’s happening on Wednesday, I literally say to myself, “You’re not allowed to think about it until Wednesday.”

It’s good advice for anyone, really, whether you’re managing a chronic illness, a large family, or a hectic schedule. I have one more piece of advice to add: be sure to put fun things on your to-do list, too. I certainly won’t chide you for prioritizing “eat chocolate” or “smile.” In fact, I’ll say you’re allowed to worry about those things every day. Checking those items off your list may just shift impossible to I’m possible.


Jennifer Crystal is a writer and educator in Boston. She is working on a memoir about her journey with chronic tick-borne illness. [email protected]