Summary: I began taking better care of myself only to be derailed by a medical issue. See how I actually took time for myself so that I could heal.
Remember months and months ago when I said I wanted to start a monthly series about self-care for parents of children with chronic medical conditions such as type 1 diabetes?
I was actually on a road to upping my self-care game. I arranged my work schedule so that I could go to yoga after school drop off two mornings a week. I lost almost 10 pounds. I was eating a little better. I was parking further and further from my office and getting in about a mile of extra walking each day. The yoga was doing wonders for my mental health as was the medication I decided with my doctor to begin taking to lower my anxiety and sleep a little better at night. I was on the right track, making and sustaining small changes for my physical and mental health.
Some of the chronic pain I had been having for years began subsiding.
And then I hit a road block.
In December or January my shoulder became achy. Yoga became increasingly difficult. At first I stopped holding plank poses and downward dogs for long periods and then I stopped doing them all together. By March I was in enough pain to see my primary care physician who ordered an X-ray, gave me anti-inflammatory meds, and a few exercises. When that didn’t help I started physical therapy. When that didn’t help I got an injection. And then an MRI. And then a recommendation for surgery to remove bone spurs and relieve impingement.
I tried for a good nine months to stave off the pain and to work my way through it as I have done many times in my life, proud of my high tolerance for pain.
I scheduled the surgery.
I was told I would be off of work and not drive for at least three weeks.
I looked at the calendar and realized there was no way that I could take that time off from my work and family obligations.
I pushed back the surgery a month.
(Partly because I had Hamilton tickets purchased a year before!)
I treated myself to new sheets and a cozy comforter, knowing I would be spending a lot of time in bed, and button up pajamas that would be easier to get off and on.
I put as much as I could into place. I took unimportant things off the family schedule. I arranged for others to shuttle my kids in my absence.
I asked for help.
I actually accepted help.
I had planned for the worst: a week of being a zombie hopped up on strong narcotics and in so much pain that I would be unable to get comfortable and unable to sleep.
But I felt really good the next day. I stopped wearing the immobilizer by day three and only took pain medication at night for a couple more days.
I felt so good that I called and asked the nurse if it was okay that I wasn’t wearing the immobilizer or the sling and that I had stopped the pain meds.
She said not to overdo it.
I heeded that advice. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, to have a set back in my recovery.
I followed the directions. I was compliant. I did my exercises 4 to 6 times a day. I iced my shoulder. I rested.
I actually took the time to rest and heal and recover.
I let other people do things. I let some things just not get done. I asked for help. I accepted help.
Not that I wanted to have an injury or surgery, but — and this is going to sound trite — I think taking three weeks off from the spinning world gave me the reset I probably needed for longer than I realized.
Not that I’m suggesting that you have an injury or surgery, but maybe we all need to take some time for ourselves.
To gain perspective.
Perhaps it’s a weekend getaway. Or perhaps it’s having your partner take the kids and leave you home alone.
Perhaps it’s taking a week to delegate all responsibilities to someone else.
Perhaps it’s sleeping in the basement or guest room where you can’t hear medical devices alarming and letting someone else take care of overnight diabetes management so you can get a good night’s sleep.
Perhaps it’s making time for a weekly yoga class followed by hot tea at a coffee shop once a week while the kids are in school.
Perhaps it’s seeing a movie by yourself each month, a movie that’s not rated-G, or grabbing an iced tea and flipping through magazines at the library.
While I know the adage “put your oxygen mask on first before tending to others” is good advice, it’s not advice I’ve heeded.
Somehow this type A, over-achieving, I-can-do-it-all person took the time to rest and recover.
I actually took the time for self-care.
Read more posts in my series “Self-Care for Parents of Children with Type 1 Diabetes.”