Looking In The Mirror
Once a year, or maybe once in a while, I use the term “self-care” in a sentence. It feels a little woo woo to me just in terms of language, although it’s fine. Used sparingly, perfectly fine. Take care of yourself. Do healthy, sane things. Don’t work so hard. Take it easy. You get it.
It’s important, whichever words we use. We can’t take care of everybody, so we hope they take care of themselves. Sometimes we get mad at people who don’t take care of themselves in the way we think they should. Sometimes we judge all sorts of shit.
But sure. I want people I care for to be happy and healthy. I want to be supportive but not obnoxious. I’m always thinking of what I do and don’t do for my own well being. It’s a constant tug, self-care, ranging from quitting a bad habit to, I dunno. Spa days.
My friend currently in the hospital is ruminating over this idea at the moment. He got the impression from one of his doctors that his diet maybe wasn’t up to snuff (I don’t think it was, but then we’ve all got issues with diet). There are a few other things he’s thinking about changing, which is good. Nobody wants to end up in the hospital.
Mostly I’ve been thinking of myself, though. I was just coming off of several weeks of illness, mild illness but still under the weather, when all of this excitement started (over a week ago, yikes). I didn’t have much appetite during these, but I focused on it and did OK. I wasn’t exactly burning a lot of calories, napping three hours a day. I could afford to eat a little lighter.
And then with the second bout, after a couple of days my appetite just went into the toilet. I had three days of pretty poor eating at the tail end, and my goal was to try to wake that baby back up. I pushed myself as much as I could, which is hard when nothing sounds good and even a few bites feels like enough. Have to do it gradually.
So I did something I never, ever did when my wife was in the hospital—I took advantage of the hospital cafeteria. This seems like a no-brainer but I never did this, never was interested in it. I always brought snacks and I did fine, but these are different times. I can’t afford to miss a meal now, as they say.
As rough a week as it’s been, then, with a lot of driving and sitting in hospital rooms, wondering and worrying, I feel pretty pleased with myself for my self-care. Even if it’s a roast beef sandwich and a banana. That counts.
I also need to back off some, I know. I hate the idea of someone I know and care about lying in a hospital room alone, no visitors, no family, no loved ones gathered in the waiting room. It happens but it’s awful, and I can’t stand it.
There are other people who rely on me, though, and this is a long haul. It’s going to be day to day with my friend, and what’s going to happen will eventually show up on the calendar. Time to get back to something resembling normal.
And I have help. Friday, when I was at the hospital most of the day, a friend who works nearby texted me and wanted to know if I wanted company for a while, just to take a walk or talk. Um, yes. As we were arranging this, I got another text from another friend, asking if I was still there and how I was doing. After sitting outside in the sun (yes, sun!) for a few minutes with my friend who works in the area, and who walked the several blocks to meet me, I said goodbye and was heading back upstairs when I got another message, from my second friend.
This woman and I met when we were teenagers, if you can imagine, and we ended up living in the same area, and we don’t see each other enough but we do hang out from time to time, all of us having dinner (sometimes her grown kids, too) or doing something. Talk about friendship. I could talk all day.
Anyway, she took it upon herself to just drive up to the hospital. She was sitting in the lobby, waiting for me with a plate of oatmeal cookies. We had a nice visit, and it was a comfort, and I had eight of those cookies, one after the other, although they were kind of small, but that’s an integral part of self-care, don’t you think? Somebody to lead you to the water. Sometimes you need somebody to do that, and this past week that’s really all I’ve been talking about, anyway.
Eight of them, one after another.