Everything was a blur. What started out as what I believed was a random stomach ache left me winded in more ways than one. An initial throbbing I thought I could endure morphed into misery in the middle of the night with debilitating headaches.
If I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought that something with talons was shredding the lining of my stomach. My husband urged me to go to urgent care, but at 2 a.m., I didn’t want to wake up my four boys and have them sitting with me for what felt like never-ending hours. I tearfully withstood the pain throughout a sleepless night. After all, I always get through it. Besides, I hate going to the doctor.
Despite my self-proclaimed fearlessness, the intensity became unbearable. Too many Motrin tablets later, I acquiesced to his advice. We made arrangements for the boys the next day and he rushed me to an emergency room, as my anguish had rapidly worsened. I wasn’t stable enough to walk to the room, so the staff immediately placed me in a wheelchair.
Disheveled and disappointed, I had difficulty answering simple questions because of the pain. Severely dehydrated and mineral deficient, I was later informed that I appeared to have a flu-like virus. After what felt like an endless stay at the hospital, I was released with a prescription for nausea and a mandate for bed-rest.
They said because it was a virus, there was little they could do. I had to “let it pass,” which would hopefully be sooner than later; but, I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t know that my stomach’s sensitivity would leave me unable to eat food for nearly a week. I didn’t know I’d lose weight so noticeably within a matter of days.
I didn’t know I’d bleed internally for nearly two weeks. I didn’t know my muscles would weaken so significantly that I wouldn’t be able to walk up my stairs. I crawled – slowly – instead. I didn’t know after practicing…walking again, that I would struggle to walk at a regular pace in the grocery store on a 10 minute visit. I was devastated.
Per the advice of those I loved the most, I detached from social media, did my best to follow the doctor’s specific orders, and in the many quiet hours I laid in my bed, I listened intently to the thoughts that were screaming in my head. I realized, though some of my choices are healthy, they are not healthy enough. In addition to the things I do well, I have to remember to focus on my weaknesses better. Many of which are simply remedied!
I have to drink ample amounts of water. I have to get more rest. I have to prioritize regular exercise more than I have in the past. I have to remember to take my iron pills – daily. I can still improve my eating habits. I have to address issues with pain before they become debilitating. Why? Because I can never take care of the ones I love the way I want to, if I don’t at least take care of myself. Or as my childhood friend Badria informed me (and numerous others echoed), “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
I hear you now…
Certain choices that I made prior to my bout with this virus exacerbated my sickness significantly. Its effects were so drastic, that it stopped everything else that I had planned and put in progress. I was frustrated that I couldn’t continue with my agenda.
I was disappointed that I had to cancel dates. I was heartbroken that I couldn’t do for my family what I’d otherwise done every day, because I could no longer stand up for more than five minutes at a time. And I prayed and cried every day, because I didn’t know when my suffering would be over.
But, I learned. I am increasingly thankful for my life and the blessings for which I verbalize my gratitude often, but truthfully digest and appreciate…seldom. Like, standing. Lifting. Walking. I am reminded that in our humanity, we are rarely invincible, but constantly fragile. I cannot forget it could be worse. While I suffered for many days, some endure suffering from the beginning till the very end.
Life is precious, and though we feel great today, we could be on our backs in an instant. I am acutely aware that amidst our infamous daily hustle and bustle, we can never underestimate the value of treasuring our time and memory-making with the ones we love. Such things are sacred – and finite.
They’ve told me the years will pass by quickly. “Treat your body and mind well,” they say. “Balance between the musts and the maybes,” they add. “I’ve got more years behind me than in front of me,” they recall. Then they insist I put Him first and live my life to the fullest. I can honestly say I wholeheartedly agree.
You are wise. You are right. Though I was wrong, I am listening. Intently.
I hear you now.
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