Thursday, October 16, 2014

Back among the living...sort of....

Good Morning everyone.  After spending the past several days fighting off an infection and trying to get better, I think I’m ready to attempt to go back to work; at least for part of the day anyway.  It’s been a very long time since I was hit so hard with a ‘bug” and frankly, I don’t like it one bit. I’m not sure ANYONE likes feeling ill, although I suppose that some people suffering from some mental health issues may actually thrive on the attention or whatever might come their way as a result. Not me! Aside from the obvious discomfort from the physical symptoms of illness, it’s the restrictions that accompany it that really bothers me most. I don’t like staying home from work and depending on others to pick up the slack in my absence, nor do I like isolating myself from loved ones to avoid the spread of the virus.  I don’t like ‘being off my mental game” and the disruption of my routine. I don’t like ‘not having the energy and stamina” to do all those things on my “to do list.” Mostly, I don’t like admitting that I am not invincible and that I often need the expertise of the medical profession and medication to help me fight off the bugs.

And yet, this is one of those “It is what it is” situations and although there are some preventive practices that can be taken to avoid the dreaded cold/flu/virus/infections that typically accompany the change of seasons, ultimately, when it invades my body, the only thing I can control is my response to the situation: an opportunity to “practice what you preach, Theresa,” if you will. Although I did what I thought was best: stayed home and away from others; rested as much as I could (this ole girl just struggles to sleep….getting up at 3:00 a.m. or earlier EVEN when ill and rarely naps); drank a lot of fluids; visited the doctor’s office; and took medication to treat symptoms,  I still was not a “happy camper” and am going back to work today….not necessarily because I feel “great,” but rather, because, I don’t think I can handle being home for another day!  The whole, “ Gosh, I would love to have a couple of days to just veg out on the couch, watching movies, staying in my jammies, taking naps, etc.” idea that I often  think would be “heaven” certainly wasn’t. Get me out of here… I’m need to get back to my crazy-busy life, even though I’m well aware that it will likely take a couple of weeks before I’m feeling 100% due to the compromised immune system from the RA and asthma.

Although I haven’t had the energy or mental clairty to post much this week, I can’t ever seem to “shut off my thoughts” and even a virus connects to my personal journey. Every THING; every EXPERIENCE; every THOUGHT….good and bad….provides an opportunity for me to reflect, respond, react, and in some sense, rejoice in each day. This is primarily because my journey to wellness is a part of my life; not something I start and stop according to how I feel or the events on the calendar; it’s one choice after another, day-in-day-out, regardless of the circumstances in life. Certainly, it’s a combination of “Gosh, I could have handled this better” and “You go girl” moments, but ultimately, it is ALWAYS a conscious part of my life. It has to be that way….or else….it would become just simply one of those “good intentions”….. “successful weight loss attempts that went bad after I quit and went back to ‘real life” kind of things”….  “A thing I do only when I feel well; life is good; I feel like doing it” kind of thing. I’ve been there – done that many times before.

And so… are some of my lingering, albeit it medication-clouded, thoughts of the past few days….
First and foremost: GRATITUDE. Yes, even feeling yucky….Gratitude….that: 
I have a job that allows me to take sick days when needed; I have medical insurance that permits me to visit the doctor and not worry about how I’m going to pay for it or the FOUR prescriptions that I am given to take; I have a supervisor and co-workers who realize my value and pitch in to help when I’m out; I have a comfortable bed, a warm house, a lot of cozy pajamas to lounge around in, a lovely view of a variety of songbirds flitting at the feeders outside my window to distract me from my aches and pains; this little ‘set-back” happened in a lull in a busy schedule of traveling and speaking engagements so that I didn’t have to cancel any serious commitments;  and the realization that  “This too shall pass….things could be MUCH worse (the news is full of reports of Ebola, meningitis, pneumonia, R1N1, and a host of other communicable diseases making the rounds) and rarely does anyone DIE of a cold/virus/flu/infection, etc. ; and I will be ‘good as new” by this time next week. Yes, I felt miserable; Yes, I am…and will continue to for weeks… coughing/cough up think gunk; Yes, I had a fever, headache, congestions, wheezing, etc...; Yes, I felt/feel down-right crummy, out-of-sorts, and miserable …..BUT….even in the midst of that....there is/was much to be grateful for! Things can always be much worse; things happen that we don’t like or choose; BUT….we how we react and respond….will help/heal us quicker than anything that a doctor can prescribe.

Second….Although I want to think that “New Theresa” is invincible, sometimes things like illness/virus/infections is beyond my control. I/we have a responsibility to do what we can to promote good health, but sometimes even the strongest succumb to it.  I try to be vigilant about prevention, especially because of the compromised immune system caused by my RA and the ease in which I can catch a bug, BUT… I have to accept some responsibility here. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends; not getting enough rest; keeping a hectic schedule, and likely not been as cautious as I could have been in avoiding those around me that have been sick.  Does that mean ‘it’s my fault?  Not exactly…but there are areas in which I can do better to take better care of myself:  Get my flu shot next week when I’m feeling better: Continue to take my vitamins and eat healthy food; Get some fresh air and exercise every possible opportunity; Wash my hands frequently….and do my best to avoid unnecessary stress. While one cannot avoid EVERY possible health threat, making good choices day-in-and day-out will help. Certainly, I will be trying harder in the future.

Finally….Be prepared.  I just stocked up last week on cold medicine/ cough syrup/Kleenex, etc. so that if I needed it, I would have the items on hand. Some might say that I ‘was just asking for it” but I think that being prepared…just in case…is always a good idea, especially when I’m ‘on my own” and live a long way away from town and would likely have to make a trip to the pharmacy myself when not feeling well. We have to be prepared for anything that threatens our health and well-being. And…when and if it happens…Do what I need to do to get better….EVEN if I stayed home reluctantly and an unwarranted sense of ‘guilt” for not going to work.

So…how does this connect to my spiritual/emotional/mental/ weight-loss journey?   The same principals apply…
Gratitude….for all things and the continual prayer that God will help me see the good in all circumstances. “Open my eyes this day, God, that I might see your presence, your intervention, the ways in which you reveal yourself to me each day….in ALL things….etc…”  Even in the midst of hardships/ struggles/ illness/darkness, there is ALWAYS something (even if it’s a stretch) in which to be grateful for.

Prevention…. Do whatever you can to avoid those things…and those PEOPLE…. that “push your buttons’ or “trigger negativity.”  If you KNOW that a situation will cause you to react in an unhealthy or negative way, do what you can to avoid the situation or person.  If going to that party, buying that candy, associating with that person/group will cause you temptation over which you don’t think you are strong enough to conquer…then…SIMPLY DON’T DO IT/BUY IT/GO THERE. Take a walk; count to 10; walk away; bite your tongue….whatever you need to do that doesn’t involve food/booze/nicotine, etc.  Do what you can to prevent yourself from anyone or anything that will threaten your peacefulness, your commitment to your journey, your healthy lifestyle….but be aware, that even if you do your best….sometimes your best will not always completely prevent a set-back. If and when you encounter a binge, have a bad day, react poorly, or make a choice you wish you hadn’t, be willing to suffer the consequences, but realize that A NEW DAY is coming and that likely, none of it will completely sabotage your journey. You’ll be good-as-new in a few days…just give yourself time to recover….and then GET BACK ON TRACK!  A new day is just that….a new opportunity to start over again.

Finally, BE PREPARED.  Things are going to happen in life that are beyond our control. Events, holidays, birthdays, vacations…..illness, death, crisis…are a part of life.  We don’t always see them coming, but we need to have a plan to stay on track when they do. When you are feeling strong and life is good…plan for those days when your journey will be harder.  NOW is the time to think about handling Halloween and the temptation to eat candy…(I buy candy that I don’t like to give away).  Now is the time to think about healthy options for the holidays (I made butternut squash, acorn squash, and a sweet potato for dinner Sunday…but did it in a healthier, low-calorie way using sugar-free maple syrup instead of brown sugar). I’m celebrating the arrival of autumn with baked apples and applesauce sweetened with Splenda and cinnamon instead of a caramel apple or piece of apple pie. I purchased sugar free PUMPKIN SPICE coffee creamer to add a bit of the “season” to my morning coffee as opposed to making a pumpkin cheesecake (although that SOUNDS delicious…sigh…..)  There are A LOT of ways to survive the holidays unscathed. (I’ve done it for several years now).   Be prepared for after-school events, trips to the hospital to visit someone who is ill, shopping trips, parties, football games, out-of-town commitments, etc….by stocking up on healthy snack options. Keep some granola, a protein bar, nuts, dried fruit….whatever your preference and plan allows…in the glove box your purse to ward off the temptation to hit the vending machine when a hectic schedule threatens your resolve.  Visit the websites of your favorite restaurants to preview their menu NOW, and get a list of options so that when you find it necessary to “eat out” due to travel, schedule, celebrations, etc…, you will have a plan.  Be prepared…..never let “I didn’t have a choice” be an excuse.

Yes, life happens….good things; not so good things….but the “not-so-good things” can either make or break you.  Admittedly, I ate way more than I needed while being home sick (feed a cold???? Hmmm…) but everything I ate was on plan because that is all I have on hand.  Still, I ate when I wasn’t hungry; I ate in an attempt to make me feel better (didn’t work…does it EVER work?); I ate when I was bored….BUT….I won’t let it sabotage my journey. I will be gentle with myself in the coming days as I regain my strength and allow my body to heal. I will rest instead of do intense physical activity…but I won’t let this deter me or completely derail me.   I encourage you to do the same!

Be as healthy as you can; Be as happy as you are able to; Be as wise in your choices as you can…and mostly, Be grateful for all things…the rest will take care of itself!