Decisions, decisions

Even if you are the type of person who is very decisive (I believe I possess that trait), dealing with the myriad of decisions and choices associated with the management of a chronic disease like RA is daunting to say the least.  From the moment we are diagnosed, we begin to grapple with decisions around everything from treatment to work to recreation.  For some of us, this becomes so overwhelming we simply become paralyzed, unable to make even the most basic decision.  The “monkey noise” in our heads is just too much!

On top of that, we have to make decisions that all too often are foreign to us.  For instance, sorting and researching treatment options.  That one alone can take all the focus and concentration you can muster! With RA, this is just one of many decisions we have to weigh. For folks who struggle with being decisive this is even more challenging.

Never fear, there are some tried and true ways that I learned to implement over my years with RA that have really made decision making a much less brutal process.  When faced with the many decisions with regard to your own personal circumstances, you first must prioritize.  List them in the order in which they need to be attended to.  And I do mean list, as in record.  For instance, if pain is the most overwhelming issue you are facing, then list that as #1.  Ask yourself what you need to do to address that?  Do I call my doctor, schedule an appointment, take prescribed medications, look into some alternative treatments? Maybe all of these.

The key is to establish priorities and then tackle them one at a time.  As each one gets attended to, move on to the next one.  And by attended I mean started as often you can only go so far. Clearly, there will be times, many times, when you cannot totally complete one issue before moving on.  That is fine.  Keep records, keep a list with notes, etc.  Whatever it takes to keep you moving and deciding. For example, insurance issues are often not resolved in one, or even two, phone calls.  So just keep track of where you are at with that, and then move on to the next decision that needs to be made.

Another helpful strategy is to categorize the decisions you are facing.  For instance, one category may be medical while another may be personal, work, recreation, etc.  By doing that is helps you to mentally organize the areas that you would like to make decisions regarding.

Engage others in this process as well.  So, if you are struggling with a particular decision turn to your support team (family, friends, medical) to help you sort it out.  Sometimes an objective viewpoint not colored by the brain fog and discomfort we are dealing with, is the perfect answer.

Above all do not give up on the process.  Each time you make progress, record it.  You can then look back and see exactly what you have accomplished.  This will feed your confidence, and by so doing, provide the encouragement you need to become that truly decisive person we all can be!

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