Learning How to Take Care of Myself
The Emergency Room of a hospital in a strange city (or anywhere!) is the last place you want to end up at 4 in the morning, but on the eve of New Year's Eve last week, that's exactly where I was. Before you think the worst, I wasn't being treated for anything but we called the ambulance for my husband after I woke to him getting sick so badly that it was soon clearly more than I and his family could handle. It turned out to be a nasty virus that wasn't the flu and he only really needed IV fluids, rest and something to ease his nausea, but it gave me a good scare.
We were visiting my in-laws as part of a big holiday trip that was supposed to continue on to Canada to see my family on New Year's Eve, but two days before Hubby got sick, what I thought was a cold led to me throwing up every bit of solid food I tried. My illness was not as severe as his ended up being and at first, I thought it was maybe a combination of my cold and being pregnant, but I'm now in my 2nd trimester with only one previous bout of "morning sickness" (evening sickness for me), so blaming the pregnancy didn't make sense.
The vomiting was intense, the sniffles became complete sinus congestion and headache, and I was hit with extreme fatigue. I knew getting on a plane now would be an ordeal; the congestion alone was guaranteed to make my ears excruciatingly painful since I couldn't take any over-the-counter meds to clear my head, never mind trying to fly while weak and nauseated. I had to make a tough decision.
Taking care of myself is hard. I don't mean the day-to-day life stuff like brushing my teeth and eating, but taking care of myself in a deeper way can sometimes be really difficult. My parents divorced when I was 10 and since then, I have always tried to be the "fixer" and keep everybody happy. I became practiced at splitting my time evenly between my parents so one didn't feel like they were getting the short end of the stick. I care deeply about a lot of people and love my family to the ends of the earth, so when I say I'm going to do something, I do it. Even if it's hard, or I don't really want to, or I'm under the weather. I'm just the type to suck it up and do what needs to be done. I can't help it. Maybe it's a trait of being a woman, too. We are caretakers! And male or female, some of us are just givers, always there for the people we love, no matter what. Tell me if you can relate!
I had said I was going and I was looking forward to it. It was all planned. I had spent the money. "I should just go," I thought. Family and friends were expecting me. But I felt like garbage, weak and tired and unwilling to get out of bed. I wrestled with it most of the day, until the realization finally came... I DON'T HAVE TO GO. And my and my baby's health were paramount now.
I knew what the right decision was. With some sadness, I told my mum and dad we weren't coming and it was hard, letting go of the plans I'd had for a long time and knowing I wouldn't see my family. I didn't want to disappoint them, and I miss them, but I knew my health had to be the priority now, for the sake of the little person growing inside me. And I had to take care of myself - body, mind and spirit, because without those things intact and whole, I couldn't be at my best for those I love.
Mum and Dad understood and I settled in to get better. I changed all the travel reservations from bed and I hoped to feel better soon. It was late at night on Tuesday that Hubby got sick and at first I thought it was the unpleasant, but less severe thing that I had. But after the third bout in the adjoining bathroom that I was awake for, I saw something was seriously wrong and off to the hospital he went in the ambulance with us following close behind. Thankfully I'd already switched our travel plans but even if I hadn't, there's NO way we could have gotten on a plane that day.
If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen this photo of me holding his hand in the ER and my focus on my own recovery now included focusing on his. Taking care of him became part of my own self-care because we are so closely linked and if my husband isn't well, I can't fully heal either. We recovered together and by Saturday we were able to take a walk outside, taking my own advice to spend time in nature to speed recovery.
We walked and took photos, practicing mindfulness by noticing the world around us and how it made us feel, talking, laughing, and stopping to photograph what caught our eye. Our walk was easy, not the athletic hike we would normally take, boots kicking up snow and flurries collecting on our hats. We talked, and were quiet, getting what we needed from our time out of the house.
Taking care of myself is hard, but now that I have the bun to think about, too, my priorities are already shifting. Self-care can be a tough thing but after the holidays, it's a necessity. Especially if you were hosting and entertaining, or giving more of yourself that you do at any other time of year. This week was a big wake up call for me, to take a step back and go easy instead of putting pressure on myself to do what, deep down, I know is too much. It's HARD to break old patterns and trying to please everyone is nearly impossible. Do you struggle with trying to make people happy, maybe neglecting yourself in the process? Self-care is easy to overlook and neglect, but simple acts like making sure to get enough sleep, eating real, whole, clean foods, and practicing meditation and movement can be additions small enough to easily slip into your day.
If you commit to doing them.
Any or all of them will make a difference, and if you haven't read it yet, you can take action here, too.
Cheers to wellness and a healthy 2015! If you can relate to this post or have experienced how easy it is to put your own care on the back burner, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.
PS - All the photos in this post were taken on our healing walk and if you would like to see many of them full size or order any prints, please see the gallery HERE.
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