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Wake-Up Call

Wake-Up Call

Greetings one and all…

I hope you and yours are enjoying a lovely morning. I am savoring a cup of hot tea, listening to music, and reflecting on the events of the past weekend. I experienced a rather painful wake-up call this weekend—a dramatic reminder that self care is mandatory if I am to be well. As you may have read in previous postings, since the beginning of the year, I have been caring for two beloved cats diagnosed with end-stage renal disease. Micah died in March; Willow died in May. Needless to say, it has been a tough journey, and my entire family is now mourning. And yet, life goes on, right? So, we have been challenged to “mourn in the cracks” of an incredibly fast paced life. Demands at work. Demands at home. Commitments to friends and our community. Up until this weekend, I thought I was juggling a myriad of responsibilities quite well. However, Sunday proved to be the slap in the face required for life to get my attention. I share my frightening experience in the hope of highlighting the potential downside of ignoring the need for self care.

Late Sunday afternoon, I landed in urgent care with shortness of breath, chest pain, and tremendous fear. Earlier in the day, I felt as if I might be getting a cold. But the symptoms intensified rapidly to the point where it was difficult to catch my breath and impossible to lie down. As I tried to reason my way through the various symptoms, I finally realized I was being foolish. I was in trouble and needed help. To delay a medical evaluation could compromise my health permanently. So, my best friend drove me to urgent care. My trepidation escalated as we walked from the car to the clinic. Even though I walked quite slowly, I stopped several times to catch my breath. What was happening to me! Only the day before I had enjoyed a brisk 5 mile walk. Then, upon entering the clinic, we were directed to bypass registration and proceed immediately to urgent care for assessment. Upon declaring that you have chest pain and shortness of breath, people pay attention!

For the next three hours, a fabulous team of medical professionals worked toward a diagnosis by the process of elimination. Test results ruled out heart attack, pneumonia, and pulmonary embolism—thank goodness! I was ultimately diagnosed with pleurisy caused by a viral infection. A plan of care was explained, and I was advised to “take it easy” for the next week. With rest, my condition will improve. Upon leaving the clinic, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief and gratitude.

Although my wake-up call seemed to come out of nowhere, I now realize there were other signs I chose to ignore the past few weeks. I am incredibly blessed that my failure to pay attention resulted in a painful inconvenience as opposed to a life-changing event like a heart attack. Consequently, I have resolved to “take good care” intentionally and routinely. Furthermore, I hope that my story encourages you to WAKE UP before you land in the emergency room. Consider the life-giving advice I received when leaving urgent care as a prescription for self care—“lay low, rest well, and pay attention to how you are feeling. If you have concerns, do not hesitate to seek medical help.” I am so glad I opted to seek help on Sunday. By so doing, I am on the road to recovery and a passionate advocate of self care. So please hear me— TAKE GOOD CARE!       

I look forward to the ongoing conversation. If you have specific questions or concerns related to your caregiving experience, I would love to hear from you. Until the next posting, I wish you and yours countless blessings…jane  

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