The Most Important New Year’s Resolution for Caregivers

Some thoughts on letting go of unrealistic expectations

Danita LaShelle Jones avatar

by Danita LaShelle Jones |

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My vision board was complete! Several years ago, after purchasing an overpriced planner, I stared in triumph at the beautiful mural of New Year’s resolutions:

  • Produce and direct two on-stage productions.
  • Finish my screenplay.
  • Go to the gym four days a week.
  • Lose 30 pounds.
  • Host a book signing.
  • Redecorate every child’s room.

The colors I carefully assigned through fancy pens and highlighters danced off the page. This was the year I was going to be my absolute best self.

By the second week of January, everything had fallen apart. With four children at two different schools, my planned morning gym time turned into car lines and school traffic. The two shows fell apart because of scheduling conflicts, and helping with homework replaced my screenplay.

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Detecting Hereditary Angioedema Symptoms Early to Mitigate Flares

I ended the year defeated. I had yet to accomplish any of my goals. As I watched the ball drop in New York City’s Times Square on my TV, I vowed that I would try even harder the following year. I would make sure my goals were more explicit. I declared that I would not be interrupted or swayed. No one would keep me from completing my tasks.

With zeal and determination, I made yet another vision board with more colors than the prior year. I made it visible to remind myself daily that there was no time for excuses. There was no stopping me! I was going to conquer 2020!

Ironically, 2020 demolished everyone’s vision boards.

A new kind of resolution

When our oldest daughter, whom we lovingly refer to as Ladybug, was diagnosed with hereditary angioedema (HAE) in 2021, I shifted my focus. I did everything possible to “plan” my way through her diagnosis. I had all the numbers for doctors and specialists. I ensured I had up-to-date school excuses. I maintained the calendars of flares and emergency medication administration. I thought I had everything under control — until I didn’t.

I learned I couldn’t meticulously “resolution” my way through HAE. Sure, I can be prepared, but setting myself up with the unrealistic expectations of executing the perfect medical plan would only devastate me by the end of the year.

The solution? Enact the Caregiver’s New Year’s Resolution. It’s easy to remember and impossible to fail. Here it is: Plan for what you know, then do your best with the day you’re given.

That’s it.

Starting in 2023, I will ensure that Ladybug’s medications are current and refrigerated. I’ll set up the appointments and gather all the documentation, and I’ll even put in my calendar when her preventive medicines need to be administered. Then, I’ll wake up every day with the assurance that even if the day doesn’t go as planned, I’ll still do my best. But what does that look like?

Maybe it’s a long hug if she’s not feeling well, allowing her to sleep longer after a particularly intense flare, taking her favorite blanket with us if she has to be hospitalized, or letting her do something completely unrelated to HAE so she can take her mind off of it. In fact, I discovered that, sometimes, just making it to the end of the day means I did my best.

This year, whether you’re a caregiver to a loved one or living with a chronic illness yourself, don’t measure your daily achievements against anyone else’s. Be content with trying your best every day.

Note: Angioedema News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Angioedema News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to angioedema.


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