Why is it that we can easily tell people to self-care, but when it comes to truly taking care of ourselves, we ignore the signs? You know, those ones that tell us to slow down! So many friends and family have been “warning” me that my body couldn’t take the stress it was under. I thought I was okay, that I could handle it, because I felt relatively healthy.
My symptoms started as fatigue that I couldn’t shake, then I developed a persistent pain in my chest that I assumed was a virus or a pulled muscle. I ignored it for 3 days, 3 DAYS! After not sleeping for 2 nights and attempting to sleep in a recliner, I called my doctor and she insisted I immediately go to the ER. Thankfully she did, and I listened (even though I thought I was fine). Turns out, I had a Pulmonary Embolism in a main artery. It landed in my left lung causing an infarction, which basically means my lung was shutting down. I went to StoneSprings Hospital Center
where I received exceptional care.
I decided to write about this because I feel a little hypocritical. All I talk about is about prevention and wellness, and here I was in a hospital feeling far from well. I assumed what was good for others didn’t apply to me – that somehow I could handle it. Honestly, I just didn’t have time to be sick or go to a doctor. I literally talked myself into thinking I was okay, even when I was unable to sleep and wincing in pain.
I have 3 lessons to share due to my mishap:
1) Manage the stress in your life, or it will manage you. Our bodies were not intended to carry this much stress. We have to create space and time for rest and relaxation or we are inviting illnesses into our bodies.
2) Our bodies have this amazing ability to tell us when something is wrong, so listen to your body and don’t wait to do something about it. Data is power, and the longer you wait to fix something, the longer it will take to make it better.
3) Do not feel guilty when you say no to something or when you give yourself permission to take time for yourself. The last few weeks were a wake up call for me, and I hope you all realize that self-care is as important, maybe even more important, than to always be caring for others.
As we enter into the holiday season, try to manage the crazy stress that often comes with the holiday bustle. Learn to say no to things you really don’t want to do, and create space for relaxation so you can enjoy all the beautiful things in your life and be grateful for your health. At the end of the day, that is all our family needs from us – our presence!
Take good care,
Susan McCormick, M.S., LMFT