Wellness Workbook – Journaling your way to a healthier life!

It’s finally ready!!! I have been working on this Wellness Workbook for a while now. To be honest, I created it over a year ago and I am just now finalizing the document and sharing with all of you. Like many of you, I have tried many different medications, diets and I’ll call them “gimmicks” to alleviate my pain. At the end of the day, what works is what most of us already know… diet, exercise and most important (in my mind)… the ability to relax and manage our stress.

I originally created the templates in this workbook for myself as a way to document my goals for better health and, as important, hold myself accountable to working towards achieving those goals. I pulled it together from all the various books and materials I have read over the course of the years, various classes I have taken, and my personal experiences.

wellnessworkbookIncluded in the workbook:

  1. Wellness Wheel: tool used to help you discover opportunities for an improved quality of life and create goals based on those areas.
  2. Wellness Plan: worksheet for documenting your short and long-­‐term health goals and listing up to four key goals in the areas that you want to work on that will help you achieve your overall short and long-­‐ term goals.
  3. Flare Plan: worksheet for documenting the tools that help you, both physically and mentally, when you are in a flare. It helps to document these so you can just flip to this page and use the tools that you know will help you.
  4. Exercise Quick Reference Sheet: there are countless exercises you can do to help with your pain, these are just some of the stretches and strengthening exercises I use on a daily basis.
  5. Reference Information: information to help you better understand how to use the daily worksheets.
  6. Daily Wellness Journal: worksheet for you to document each day; your exercise, food, pain level and how you addressed your pain, gratefulness and memorable moments.
  7. My Priorities for Today…: worksheet to document your personal and work priorities on a daily basis.
  8. Automatic Thoughts Worksheet: template to help you manage your stress and negative thoughts.

I hope that it helps you as much as it has me. Please feel free to share with whoever you feel might benefit from this type of resource, I would just appreciate if you would send them to my blog to pull down the latest version. You can either click on the image above or go to my Tools & Resources page to download the workbook.

I would also love to get your feedback so I can continue to make improvements. You all know best what it takes to manage your health and I love to hear new and creative ways to have better days.

Stay cool and keep on smiling!

Hugz.

Tamiko

Your Feedback Please… My Latest Wellness Journal for Chronic Pain

I only have so much brain power. I mean, as much as I’d like to multi-task, learn something new every day, solve problems of all sorts… I only have so much brain power. So how am I using it these days? I’ve been spending a lot of time creating a Wellness journal of sorts. It all started when I was participating in the Pain Program at Kaiser. I needed something to help me transition from this program to the real world where there was only me. Only me to hold myself accountable, not a support group every day or the doctors I don’t want to let down… just me. I have to continue on this path to a quality life by doing daily exercises, working on my diet, managing my stress with meditation and relaxation exercises… practicing everything I have learned! Just thinking about it doesn’t work for me. Writing down what I have done enables me to hold myself accountable AND celebrate my successes.

So… I created this document to hold myself accountable. It’s similar to the pain journals I have created and posted in my Tools and Resources page. There are many differences though, for one it’s not just a daily journal, it’s also a tool to help me figure out what areas of my health/ life I need to address that are out of balance. I created worksheets to identify my short and long-term health goals, my plan for what to do when I’m in a flare… I included a Quick Reference sheet with exercises that I use on a daily basis. It’s a work in progress. Here’s the break down of what I have included in the set so far:

  1. Wellness Wheel: tool used to help you discover opportunities for an improved quality of life and create goals based on those areas.
  2. Wellness Plan: worksheet for documenting your short and long-­‐term health goals and listing up to four key goals in the areas that you want to work on that will help you achieve your overall short and long-­‐term goals.
  3. Flare Plan: worksheet for documenting the tools that help you, both physically and mentally, when you are in a flare. It helps to document these so you can just flip to this page and use the tools that you know will help you.
  4. Exercise Quick Reference Sheet: there are countless exercises you can do to help with your pain, these are just some of the stretches and strengthening exercises I use on a daily basis.
  5. Daily Wellness Journal: worksheet for you to document each day; your exercise, food, pain level and how you addressed your pain, what you are grateful for that day and memorable moments/ accomplishments.
  6. My Priorities for Today…: worksheet to document your personal and work priorities on a daily basis.
  7. Automatic Thoughts Worksheet: template to help you manage your stress and negative thoughts.

So far, with a much older draft, the Kaiser folks have been encouraging me to publish this Wellness Journal. It’s a little intimidating. But it got me thinking. I want to keep working on this. I want to create something that anyone with chronic pain or any type of health issue can use to improve the quality of their life.

I’m excited about this. I’d love to get feedback on what I have created so far. If you are interested in helping me by reviewing, testing and giving me your honest feedback – I’d love it!

Shoot me an email or leave a comment here and I’ll get in touch with you right away.

Thank you!

Tamiko

Practicing What I Have Learned… Pain Management

I have had a lot of training about managing my life with pain over the last couple years. It’s not the learning that is the issue. The issue for me is the implementation. The challenge to change. The challenge to accept.

Instead of getting up and out of bed and going straight to my laptop to start working for the day, I need to make a change. I need to wake up and… with intention, get out of bed and do some gentle movement, read the bible and make time for prayer and meditation, eat some breakfast and take my meds… and then, and only then start working. I know this. Actually practicing this is my challenge. It all sounds great, but even writing it makes me anxious. When I get up in the morning, I am already anxious. Anxious to start my day. Just this morning, I woke up and really made myself do some Qigong. But I was anxious, I couldn’t get myself to get into a calm state and after a couple of minutes I gave up. The entire time from when I woke up to when I sat at my laptop, all I could think about was what I wanted to get done this morning. How do I get to that point where the motivation to change is greater than the anxiety?

I am taking this class at Kaiser and I am reading books and I am working on my deep breathing and some (not all) of my exercises… but at the end of the day I am afraid. I am off work for six weeks and you would think I would be afraid about going back to work. It’s not so much the going back to work that scares me as much as it is the going back to life. I am afraid that this is it. I have these expectations that at the end of these six weeks I will be changed and living a quality life. My fear is that, after these six weeks,  my life will still be “just getting through the day”. I want to live my life, not just get through the day.

I realized this week that the problem is… me. I do not say those words with ease. I mean, seriously, I am not a complete idiot (most of the time). I did and do know that I have to make changes to actually see change or in my case FEEL change… but I am talking about putting in daily practice what I have learned… what I know I know… it’s some hard work. To admit that I am the only thing holding me back… well… it sucks. I might have had this epiphany before. The great thing about not having a memory most of the time… is, well, not having a memory. I realized as I decided to get organized last night with all my paperwork from my classes at Kaiser from 2010 and today – shit! I have learned this before. That kept coming up in my mind over and over again as I was going through my stuff. I am not quite sure why I was so surprised… maybe frustrated and a little irritated with myself are better words than surprised.

So! What am I going to do about it? Well…

  1. Breathe
  2. Put together my Wellness Plan (what I will do on a daily basis)
  3. Breathe
  4. Make an agreement with myself how I will implement this Wellness Plan. Let’s be realistic, it’s been so overwhelming for so long, let’s (let’s?? I mean to say I will) take this in smaller steps so I can be somewhat successful.
  5. Breathe
  6. Take the first step…

Last night I also spent time revising my blog to incorporate more information in my Tools & Resources page as well as the page I recently added, Bay Area Resources. This also reminded me how much I need to incorporate practicing the tools I have learned over the years.

I will be patient with myself. It’s not going to be easy. I love the quick wins. Now it’s time for the long-term thinking and, Lord have mercy… practicing, practicing, practicing!

I can do this (repeat. repeat. repeat.). Seriously, I can do this. I will prove it to myself. I am the only one who matters in this instance as no one else can do this for me.

Thanks for listening and appreciate any thoughts you have from your own experiences.

Stay cool!

Pain Program… Day 2

I have done it. I officially started the Level 2 Pain Program at Kaiser yesterday. It is focused a lot around the concept of amygdala retraining. I have seen programs to purchase out there in the online world, and this program is part of Kaiser’s offering. This is the only Kaiser currently offering to determine the success. So far… I hear it has been extremely successful. I am optimistic. Optimistic for the first time in a very long time.

In talking with my intake nurse, who has also been supporting me for a long time through this process… one of the major difference between the programs I have seen online and this one is that we are meeting everyday for three weeks, followed by 3 weeks of meeting 3 times a week, followed by once a week for 4+weeks. Each session is 3 hours. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

We started with introductions, about 15 of us including doctors, nurses, psychologist and pharmacist. Then one of the doctors read an inspirational passage about fear from a book. I must say… it was good to hear from this particular doctor as when I first started this process years ago (after being diagnosed with FMS), I saw this doctor and he was a complete ASS to me. I remember crying after leaving my appointment with him. He is a convert and now understands chronic pain and the effects much better. It’s good to know folks can change.

After the reading, we did about ten minutes of Qi Gong… all of us and then all the medical folks left and the rest of us did Feldenkrais for about 40 minutes. We did Feldenkrais the last time I went through the Level 2 program, but only for a few minutes. This was interesting, not easy for me, but I definitely see the benefit in it. With more sessions, I know I will be able to relax more. It was difficult for me to relax and get into it. I was also having a hard time paying attention to the instructor, just my mind going crazy. I need to learn how to calm my mind down better.

After Feldenkrais, we had a 45 minute group session about a concept. Yesterday was about the 3 P’s. Planning, Prioritization and Pacing. This was ran by the psychologist but about the input from the group. Group therapy with everyone in the room on the same page… we are all in pain. A room full of people who can all relate to each other’s lives.

After this, everyone went for a group walk for 15 minutes… and then ended the day going around the room with parting comments.

I am optimistic (how often do we say that word?) that I am going to come out of this process as someone who can start living a higher quality life.

I have only had one day, I will start getting ready to go back today in a bit. Getting dressed and leaving the house every day will be a challenge for me since I am usually in the house Monday through Friday. I am also thinking about work a lot, so I need to let that go. This program is all about me and about me making my life more about LIVING than just getting through the day.

I can do this.

I wish you all a great day!

Day 17: Learned the Hard Way…

What’s a lesson I learned the hard way? Hmmmmmm, which lesson do I choose? There are so many possibilities.

A lesson I keep learning… the hard way… is that exercise makes a difference. Another lesson? That my diet makes a difference. It’s like I know what I am supposed to do, but my brain says otherwise. Take my meds everyday at the same time, manage my stress, manage my time… there are so many things I know I should do. So I guess I haven’t really learned my lesson(s)… yet.

I would have to say the biggest lesson I have learned is the “overdoing it” one. I am much better about stopping when I should, not over committing, holding back when I want to get something done. I realize the consequences of my decision mean I will be out of commission for days on end if I don’t restrain myself.

My perfect day on Sunday, we went to the zoo. Normally I would take my cane, but I knew there was no way I could make it from the car to the entrance without my pain making it so uncomfortable it would start the day off badly. I used a wheelchair. This is letting go of my pride to the infinite degree. I really just had to accept this was the only way I was going to get through the day and have fun. I can tell you, I was simply exhausted at the end of the day. The wheelchair saved me, but it didn’t alleviate the pain or exhaustion. I thought I’d experience less pain, but I didn’t allow it to ruin my day. I also didn’t overdo it. I had my perfect day.

It’s so easy for all of us to overdo it. Overdoing it can mean vacuuming the house or washing the clothes or making dinner. It could mean working a normal 8 hour day. Living within our boundaries is not easy. Trading one activity for another could mean working and not participating at our child’s sporting event. It’s not fair, but these are the decisions we are faced with. We need to feel okay about it or we tear ourselves up for it. I am not a bad mom, a bad wife, a bad employee… I’m not a bad person. I am someone living with a health issue and I’m doing the best I can.

The lesson I learned (and continue to learn everyday…)? Balance. I can say I’m sitting about even, feet dangling off the see-saw. I definitely have my up days … and my down days. I have learned, but the actual daily practice of this balancing act is crazy hard.

What about you?

Thanks for stopping by.

Tamiko

Day 8: Best conversation I had this week

I am participating in the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge. Please visit WEGO Health’s blog and the WEGO Facebook page to find other writers tackling the same topics—or sign up for the challenge yourself!

 

Rinnnnnnggggg (not really what my phone sounds like since it’s a mobile, but I have no idea how to get that translated here)…

Me: Hello?

Man on phone: Hi this is Dr. X calling, we have a phone appointment scheduled today. How are you doing?

Me: I’m doing okay, how are you?

Dr. X: Well I’m doing good. I understand you had an appt with your primary care physician and she has referred you back to us here at the Pain Clinic. So, it doesn’t sound like you are really doing “okay”.

Me: Well, yeah… I never know what to say when people ask that question, it’s kind of a default answer. I have been in a horrible flare for the past few weeks. I don’t really understand what the trigger was, I can normally attribute it to the weather or an event. This time it’s has come and doesn’t appear to be going away… thus the appt with my dr. Normally I don’t go in or call because I know there’s nothing she can do for me.

Dr. X: Yes, I understand. With your situation, it’s a good thing that we are talking again. I know how hard it is to manage day to day and your right, your primary care dr. is probably at a loss. I spoke to Awesome Nurse (I’ll call her that, because she is) about your case before I called you and she mentioned what the two of you discussed the last time you spoke. We both felt it would be good to talk to you about some of the changes going on here.

Me: Okay.

Dr. X: Since you went through our Pain Program, we have made significant changes. We have a new Psychiatrist here and we have revised the program completely. We have introduced a group support structure and incorporated movement strategies into the program. We have very good results and the success rate so far is pretty high.

Me: This sounds interesting… and the conversation continued for another 15 minutes.

When I first saw this prompt for the Health Activists Writer’s Month Challenge, I was a little wary. More than a little, I was thinking this is one of the days I’m going to miss. No conversation stood out that I wanted to share… no good conversation I should say. My dr.’s appt was pretty disappointing earlier in the week and I’ve been in so much pain I haven’t really been conversing. This call that happened today gave me hope. Dr. X explained this program and how it works, the intake process and really gave me a great feeling. He said he’s seen people that have been in pain for a very long time, people like me he said, that have tried everything and he felt like they had really seen life changing differences after they completed the program.

He said that people on medication and rely on it, people that want to get off their meds, people that don’t want to take meds… basically whatever choices people have made about meds, it doesn’t effect their participation in the program. He told me that they don’t judge or discriminate, at the end of the day their goal is for people to be able to live better lives. A holistic approach, not just to “fix” something, but to change the way we are able to live. Part of the intake process and the program overall is to help determine what each individual needs, whether it’s medication or emotional support or whatever.

Like I said… I have hope and I can feel that sunshine again. I trust these people. They gave me life before. The Kaiser pain program is amazing. If you have one, and you are a member… I really encourage you to get a referral and jump in with both feet. You will be in a pain friendly environment where you will not be judged and most important… you will be BELIEVED.

I’m looking forward to this opportunity. I’d say wish me luck, but I have faith and that trumps luck every time!

Thanks for reading.

Tamiko

What Would You Do? Stand Up For Your Pain!

The cameras are rolling…. All eyes on you…. You have probably seen the TV show, “What Would You Do?” I was going to blog about a situation I was in a couple of weeks ago. A truly, stupid situation that I needed some time to get through, mellow out and say to myself, GET THE HELL OVER IT! I wanted to vent and get that shit out of my system, but it would not have helped and it would not have helped any of you! I have to keep reminding myself every hour, every minute of the day to stay positive these days. It’s a challenge, but sometimes that’s what one has to do. Right now, that’s what it is. Prayer and giving my cares and worries over to God is what I’m doing.

My life has been seriously out of balance. Work has been crazy busy – way too many hours. Family and friends close to me are in need of God’s healing hands. The weather has been crazy, mostly rainy and cold. I’ve been in a constant flare for what seems like forever – it’s only been a few weeks. For the first time in a long time I have increased my dose on one of my meds. It sucks, I don’t know if any of you feel this way, but increasing meds makes me feel like a failure, like I’m not managing my pain like I’m supposed to. I agree to a certain extent that I shouldn’t feel that way, but at the same time, I also feel I should be in control of my body. FMS is a crazy place to live. Depression has stolen a lot of my mind the past few weeks and I really want it back. I have fought and fought and fought, I FINALLY feel like I may be starting to come back, it’s so damn hard. It’s like climbing up hill through quicksand (because I have done that before, right?). Trust me, my family really, REALLY prefer the not deeply depressed mother/ wife over the scary/ ugly mean lady that’s been living in the house lately. She scares me too.

Speaking of my family, well specifically my husband… I am not CO-dependent, I am SOUL-dependent (and yes I meant to spell it that way) on (on? of? to?) my husband. I have been blessed with a husband who takes wonderful care of me. He does everything for my children and me. He literally does all the cooking, cleaning, driving, care-taking… this man does my hair, when my daughter isn’t doing it! He also deals with all that comes with chronic pain and depression, oh yeah and let’s not forget – throw in a little bit of ADD. What an effed-up combination! After almost 25 years together he has to be wondering what the hell he signed up for!! There is no return policy here. He had 30 days, but those days have passed and he’s now stuck with me. Thank God!

So! I started out talking about a TV show that puts folks in really awkward situations. A show that ultimately pushes those same to people make uncomfortable decisions. Now I ask you, when you are in a situation where you need to stand up for your pain, do you? Do you stand up for your pain or do you end up suffering? I made a decision to stand up for my pain and I also ended up suffering because I stood up. I am happy I made that decision because I was able to really see some true colors come out.

At the end of the day, most of us can barely stand up for long periods of a time, so why suffer any more than you have to, right? I mean, c’mon! Please do yourself righteous and STAND UP FOR YOUR PAIN!

Thanks for reading! Please tell me what you think, leave your comments and, as always, stay cool!

Tamiko