A while ago, I came down with a mystery illness.
I didn’t have a fever but was so tired that I only had the energy to take a quick shower and then go back to bed. My throat was so sore I had a hard time swallowing. I got a terrible cough that eventually turned into bronchitis. I did go to the doctor and was prescribed antibiotics.
After a day or two of the medication, I started feeling better. For one day. The cough didn’t go away. Sleep was constantly being interrupted. I stayed in bed or on the couch, really trying to help my body heal. Resting almost all the time, drinking fluids and even resorting to hot toddies didn’t help.
Even though I work from home, I couldn’t focus long enough to finish work tasks. I wasn’t much better after a two-week round of medication. So I headed back to the doctor and started another round of antibiotics. What I expected to last a week or two ended up taking me away from my ordinary life for nearly two months.
I’m usually a busy person. I work, chair committees, volunteer, garden, and take care of my home. I take my son to appointments several times a week. I seldom slow down. Even when I should. So, for the first time ever I canceled every appointment, stopped cooking and cleaning and passed all my responsibilities on to my husband.
I canceled my birthday (really), our anniversary, book club and all other social events. My garden didn’t get planted. A dinner party that I’d planned months in advance was postponed. I sat at home for weeks, doing nothing and I mean nothing! And I didn’t feel guilty! After 6 weeks of setbacks and almost compete isolation, I started feeling better. I could do a few work appointments and ventured out a bit to help transport my son. I still had a terrible cough, so didn’t resume my normal life.
I learned some important lessons during my short retirement from my typical life. First, I learned that it is ok to take the time you need to take time away from your duties and even pleasurable events when your health is at stake. I learned that family, friends, colleagues can and will step up to fill in when needed. I also learned that down time helps clear your mind of all but the most important thoughts. Finally, I learned that taking care of yourself, taking that all-important time you need to heal, can bring you to the other side back to good health.
Reader’s Note: This was written in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, we have since learned that the author tested negative for the virus.
Self-care is one of the most important things you can do.
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