We all have things we neglect in life and most of the time I think we neglect ourselves. Over the years I have experienced enough ailments and hospital visits for a lifetime. Where shall I begin…
In my twenties I was in the best shape of my life. I was going to gym everyday, eating well and feeling great.
My first major issue arrived in my late twenties. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries which meant I was not ovulating. The doctors told me there was a very slim chance I could ever get pregnant on my own. This was the news I received just a little after my 27th birthday. 27! How could this be? My husband and I began a journey into the long and frustrating world of infertility. After almost two years I finally got pregnant with my twin boys. This joy was short lived when I started having contractions at 22 weeks. What followed was 12 weeks on bed rest in the hospital (a whole other story on its own). I gave birth six weeks early to two healthy boys but it took me months to walk again and regain my strength. This was all while I was taking care of two preemie babies.
When my twins were 18 months I got pregnant again. It was a pleasant surprise. Sadly, at 18 weeks I miscarried and spent a week in the hospital. I slowly recovered and tried to focus on myself. I joined Weight Watchers and got a fancy gym membership where I could actually take a shower without interruptions. (I think I showered more than I worked out) I lost around 30 pounds and got back into shape. I tried to start eating healthy again which is always a struggle for me.
It did not take long until I was back to my neglectful habits of not taking care of myself. I got a persistent cough that I ignored and woke up one night coughing up blood.
Back to the emergency room I went in the middle of the night. They did a cat scan and a very young resident said, “Umm ya, we see some spots on your lungs. We have no idea what it is so you will have to wait for the pulmonary doctor in the morning.” I spent the night in the E/R planning my own funeral. Finally, after being quarantined for possible TB, I was diagnosed with a rare lung infection that permanently scarred my lungs and spent a year on antibiotics.
What was going on and why was my body always failing me? And was it my body failing me or was I failing myself?
At 34 I got pregnant with my third son and enjoyed a healthy, event-free pregnancy. About a year later I started getting stomach pains and I thought it could be indigestion or ulcers. I didn’t bother to go to the doctor and lived with the pain for a while. One Sunday morning, I woke up with a pain that would not stop. I remained in pain at home for five hours before I would go to the hospital. I was convinced if I went in I would never come out.
Finally I found myself back in the all too familiar emergency room. That pain turned out to be pancreatitis due to gallstones. I spent a week in the hospital and I had my gall bladder removed . The doctors told me if I had not gone to the E/R I would have gone into full organ failure and died. That was my wake up call. I needed to take better care of myself. I started to eat better and exercise again. At 40 I felt healthier then I ever did in my thirties.
Staying healthy is a constant effort for me. Since that last episode I have had hernia surgery and broke my toe. Now I am 42 and I have finally cut out the diet coke but I always seem to need work on my eating habits. I still eat on the run or standing up and sometimes I don’t remember to eat at all. Trying to put myself first is virtually impossible for me to do.
So what is the solution? I know I need to set aside time to focus on myself and that if I don’t function properly the rest of my household won’t either.
Yet, why is it hard for me to do? If was on a plane I would put the oxygen masks on my kids first and then myself. When my kids are sick I will rush them to the doctor but when I am sick I just get sicker. So I guess I am very much still a work in progress.
Trying to remember to take care of oneself is no easy feat. It takes strength, determination, focus, a mother that calls everyday to remind you and a lot of Band-Aids…