A Change in Checklist

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This morning I met my new primary care physician. I went prepared with a list of items to discuss and she addressed most of my concerns (I didn’t bring my shoulder up since I had more pressing things on my mind) rather thoroughly. I have an appointment for fasting labs, followed by a physical.

I found out an interesting new tidbit, however. If a diabetes patient is on oral medications only, Medicare will only cover enough testing strips for one test a day, not the four I’ve been told to do since I was first diagnosed (one fasting, three taken two hours after each meal). My diabetes is regular enough these days to where one test a day won’t be that big of a deal, and my doctor agreed only once was necessary after looking at my logs for the past month, but it was the reminders to eat, set a timer, and test that spurred the creation of my checklist.

All in all, I removed six things from my checklist, those being the three times I set my timer post-meals and the three times I test once the timer goes off. In my mind that struggles to feel productive, that leaves me with six empty lines to fill with daily tasks that I can check off instead of the repetitive glucose monitoring.

In the end, I added three items: read, learn, and socialize.

When I was younger, I was a voracious reader with an expansive memory, and so over the course of two years I read and re-read my World Book Encyclopedia to the point that I could look at an article and tell you if I’d read it before. There were very few articles that I hadn’t read by the end of two years. The older I’ve gotten, however, the more I’ve gotten away from reading, and now rarely take the time to read anything new or even re-read any of my favorites. Part of that is my preference to read e-books to physical copies; our library space is quite limited and I’d rather buy a book than borrow it from the library, especially if it’s a reference book. (With my hobbies, the number of books that I consider reference material is significant, and those take up a large part of our limited library space.) Another, perhaps bigger, part of the equation is that I enjoy reading and my brain in its addled moments won’t permit me to do anything that I really like to do. For instance, I have a book that is the eighth in a very well-loved series that I purchased shortly after it was released in January, and I’ve only managed to make it through the first half of the first chapter. With the addition of the new “read” category, I’m committing to reading again, and that’s my starting point. (Since it’s been months since I picked it up, I’m starting over again. For those looking for a book recommendation, it’s “The Empty Throne” by Bernard Cornwell, the latest in the Saxon Tales series of historical fiction that he excels at writing.)

As far as learning is concerned, I tend to soak in information, and I excel at trivia games because I happen to know a lot of about a lot of different topics. But focusing that effort on a specific subject is hard for me, so that’s what I’m going to be doing with this category. I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish, so I’m restarting the Duolingo course with the intention of finishing it. After that, I’m going to pick something hands-on and begin studying and practicing that.

Socializing is the last new category, and that is probably the least involved of the three. It’s my intent to reach out to at least one person each day and have a conversation with them. It can be through online media, or the phone, or in person, but it can’t be the same person twice in a row. This is designed to keep me from isolating as badly as I tend to do. Despite being the least involved (it doesn’t take much to work in an instant messaging conversation with someone) it’s the one that I’m most intimidated by.

That leaves me with three empty lines in my new checklist that I can fill as the mood strikes or events warrant. (I’d add categories endlessly if I could, but I’m limited by the number of lines I have in my Moleskine notebooks that I use.) I’m not necessarily looking to fill those lines right off the bat, but if something comes to mind that I should be dedicating some time to on a daily basis, I’ve got the room to expand somewhat. I’m entertaining a fourth category, but I don’t want to add too many things all at once; the secret to establishing change is doing it slowly, over time, and not everything at once.

I’ll report back in with how things seem to be doing with the revised checklist, and also entertain suggestions about what I could do on a daily basis to help me pass the time (and improve myself). Let me know if you have any suggestions in the comments, either here, on Facebook or on Twitter.

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