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Posts tagged ‘medicine’

I Can’t Go Alone: Self-Care

How do you do self-care when your job is literally to care for others? How do you do care for others when you cannot care for yourself?

I know self-care is important because I have neglected it and sometimes feel like I’m falling apart at the seams. I spent a good portion of my life learning to hold in all of my icky parts and have spent years learning that holding it all together only leads to more of it spilling out at awkward times. My icky parts are my feelings and as the years have progressed I have learned that feelings are not icky. They are important and need paying attention to.

Feelings are as important as the pains and aches of life.  A fever turns you towards a flu or doctor so tears should turn you towards the feeling and figuring it out. What makes you sad? Why are you happy? Do you know why you anger so easily or do you simply sweep it under the rug?

This week I was slapped in the face with my lack of self care. I had noticed it: it came in my inability to enter some rooms or my inability to see past my own pain.

So this week when I had learned that one of my favorite aunts was very sick and possibly even more sick than we thought. I couldn’t get past it. I couldn’t even go to rooms on my unit. I couldn’t sit in meetings and not think about losing her.

Being slapped in the face like that got me thinking about how I was caring for myself.

I was throwing myself into this internship, throwing myself into the work I must do and neglecting the inner workings of me. Sure when I lost it in a room or two I would take a moment to reclaim myself but what about those moments when I simply ignored it? What about those moments when I just let it go?

So on Thursday when I couldn’t force myself to go on the unit I asked one of my group members: Is it okay to say, “Today I can’t go”? Is it okay to say, “I need help today”? Is it okay to say, “I can’t come in because my mental health is at it’s breaking point”? Is that ever okay?

One of my fellow members, John, asked people all day long for help. He passed the pager on to someone else, asked me to  go with him on a call and used us all to help him through it. What would he do when he was there alone? How would he get through it without us?

The time I spend on-call, I don’t worry about the job I do, I just do it but when I am not on call it’s harder for me. It’s harder and I’m not sure how to ask for the help that I need. It’s harder for me to say I need someone to go with me.

It’s almost as if the emotional drain of being on-call takes it’s toll and I do not wish to go into any more rooms, I don’t want to feel that anguish, I do not wish to subject myself to anymore emotional onslaught. I do not wish to cause myself anymore pain and going into those rooms is pain. It hurts my heart. It causes triggers each time, whether I realize it in the moment or if it takes weeks for me to realize it.

So how do I go back? How do I go on? I realized yesterday that this internship lasts for about two months more. How in the heck do I continue to go? How do I get myself to let go of the anguish and focus on the joy of hearing someone say, “That was a great prayer, thank you”? How do I get myself to go on?

This is a hard internship, much harder than any other so how do I continue to do the work I do without letting it consume my entire being?

How do I manage better self care?

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Am I strong enough yet?

For those of you that don’t know, I have been passing a stone for the last four days. And throughout the agonizing pain I have had “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson in my head.

Hopefully by now everyone has seen the video made by the children’s cancer ward. I think I watched this video about 20 times when if first came out. I’m in no way comparing my battle of the last few days to this video. I cry every time I watch it but I still think it is an awesome video, and an awesome song.

The lyrics that keep running through my head are:

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger/stand a little taller.”

The whole song is about surviving a bad break-up but it has more applications than that.

In my case it is about passing a stone and having the worst pain imaginable. It’s not even a constant pain. For instance, this morning I was feeling so much better but then tonight I am crying because I am in so much pain. Passing a kidney stone is said to be more painful than the hardest labor pains.

I’ve never had a baby, I’ve never even fully passed a stone. But I do know that this is some of the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. What sucks about the kinds of stones that I get is 1) they are huge and 2) I cannot prevent them.

Some stones can be prevented by diet. You control your intake of pops and other harsh sugars and you are all good. My stones are not related to my diet. They are related to the acid build-up in my body. They are related to infections I get that I don’t know I have.

I have a high tolerance for pain. I always have. It could have to do with the issues of my birth or my low weight or all the testing I had to go through when I was a kid. It could have something to do with many many things, I don’t know. I don’t really care. I am thankful for my high tolerance for pain. But it does get in the way, especially when it comes to my production of stones.

Most people are in excruciating pain when they get a bladder infection or a UTI. I never feel them. I know right! I’m so lucky. But the problem with that is that if you don’t feel a UTI it turns into a bladder infection because you never have it checked. And if you don’t feel the bladder infection you are really screwed because it turns into a kidney infection and lucky me I actually feel that crap. That hurts.

Since the infection travels up to my kidneys I also get to produce a kidney stone. Lucky me.

I do drink cranberry juice because it is supposed to kill infections and I haven’t had an infection in a very long time.

But still tonight I am dealing with the pain of passing a stone. Oh joy (sarcasm).

As you can tell my mood is improving by the day. I have watched almost all of the movies I own and most of the ones my parents’ own. I have watched so many movies I cannot tell you which ones I have watched. Today alone I watched: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Friends, Twister, American Pickers, Harry Potter 8, and X-Men: First Class.  That was just today.

I’m bored and to be honest, lonely. I mean I spent all day yesterday on the couch with my mom but I was still lonely. I have left the house once a day for the past 4 days. I’m going stir crazy and I’m not taking it well. Add to the that the pain that has me up most of the night and I’m not sure I even want to hang out with me.

I went to a conference in Pasadena at HROCK when I was there a few months ago. And at this conference one of the main speakers talked about the idea that when you find yourself in a difficult time you should look to God and ask him what you are supposed to be learning from this.

They say that pastors encounter the most difficulty so that they can be present with the people in their midst. I’m sure that this kidney stone is just teaching me to be more compassionate towards others who are suffering. But guess what the other stones, the past surgeries and injuries have all taught me to have a compassionate side. So what the heck is this stone trying to teach me?

Is it’s sole purpose to make me stronger? I’m already pretty strong. I really don’t know what this time around is supposed to teach me. I’m just ready for it to be over. I’m ready to stop alienating the people I love. I’m ready to be smart again and get off these pills that make me act stupid.

I’m ready to be done with this battle. I’m ready to get back to being me. I’m ready. But my body is not agreeing with me.

My body is still in pain. I’m tired of becoming stronger. I’m ready to be whole.

I agree with Kelly Clarkson that what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger but the journey to becoming stronger really sucks.

Am I strong enough yet?

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