Iris never would have come to class, except her family dragged her. She didn’t seem to want to be there, but she did participate, speaking in a soft voice with a Cantonese accent. Each week a different relative would bring her, so over the course of the six weeks, we got to meet her whole family. They were obviously frustrated by her passivity but determined to try and help if they could.
In the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, as it’s called, everyone is supposed to make an action plan for one thing they are going to do for themselves in the coming week. (See ideas for action plans about half way down this Web page.) Every week, Iris’s action plan was the same:
“I’m going to get on my exercise machine,” she would say. She had this LifeCycle at home, and she would say, “I’m going to use it three times, for 20 minutes at a time,” or something like that. And she never did.
I mean, not one single time did she get on that LifeCycle. One week she said her knees hurt. Another week she didn’t have anyone to help her on or off. For whatever reason, she never did it. Watching the faces of her family members as she gave these reports, I could see the frustration they felt, but they never commented, at least, not in front of the class.
The fourth week, she gave us the same plan —”I’m going to get on my exercise machine.” And I just said, “No. Don’t tell us this same plan that we know you aren’t going to do. Pick something that you WANT to do.”
“Not something your doctor told you to do,” I continued, “or something you think you should do, or something that would make your husband happy. Something you want to do. Because wanting to do something means it’s important to you. It puts some energy behind it. That way, you might actually do it.”