Taking Good Care of Yourself

          Taking care of yourself…I wonder what springs to your mind when you read those words. Is it a girls’ night out? Is it a weekend away with your husband? Is it a massage? Is it a mani-pedi while the kiddos are with daddy or a sitter? Is it buying new make-up, or a new pair of jeans? Maybe it’s getting your hair done. Maybe it’s taking a nap while the little ones nap, or even while they watch a video.

Whatever your idea of self care, those very words can cause some very strong feelings in women. Some women say that you should never need to get away alone; you should never need some quiet time to think, or just to NOT think. And others say that weekly, even daily, self care is a very necessary part of motherhood.

I am not here to argue the merits of alone time. The fact is that for a lot of women, getting away alone is not going to happen in the near future. Whether it’s nursing babies, husbands who work crazy hours, or a myriad of other reasons, getting away is just not an option.

Luckily, that’s not what I am talking about today! Not at all. Today, I am speaking of self care in the most rudimentary of ways. I am speaking of taking care of your health.

As mothers, we are always making decisions about whether a certain child needs a doctor visit; whether they have a cold or it’s just allergies again; what that crazy rash is; whether they should go to church or stay home again. As the mom of 10, I have spent a lot of time at the pediatrician’s office, the hospital, and a mix of specialist’s offices.

But the only doctor’s office I ever visited for myself was my midwife. Other than a yearly sinus infection coupled with bronchitis, I never went to the doctor. And I saw no need.

But the more time that went by, the more I didn’t feel good. Fatigue was growing rapidly, insomnia was raging, and the energy I used to be known for had disappeared somewhere along the way. I was also freezing cold all the time, weight was coming on, and my mood was very low no matter what I did.

I have always struggled with anemia, so I hoped that getting my hemoglobin up to proper levels would take care of the problem. It didn’t. Every one of my symptoms was getting worse. I decided I should go to the doctor.

That was about 3 years ago.

Last week, I finally went. Yes, go ahead and laugh.

See, we have no health insurance, so I knew I would have to be ready to actually spend some money on my health. And I wanted to find a more natural minded doctor, instead of a doctor who was just going to throw pills at me and treat my symptoms. Thanks to a friend, I found a functional medicine, naturo-pathic nurse practitioner just 40 minutes away from my home. And I finally bit the bullet and made the appointment.

She sort of pre-diagnosed me with two things, based on my symptoms; adrenal fatigue and low thyroid/Vitamin D. I did an adrenal fatigue test, which involved spitting into 4 large tubes 4 times during a 16 hour period. If you think you manufacture a lot of saliva, I would bet you aren’t nearly as slobbery as you think you are. Did I mention I couldn’t have any caffeine during said 16 hour period? Oh my. It was an ugly, torturous day…that is now over. Praise God.

Yesterday, I went and paid even more money to have bloodwork done. At this point, I was at $650 spent, and still waiting for the spit test charges.

The nurse practitioner called this morning. Super low thyroid. And dangerously low Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D levels should be at least 50 for optimum health. Mine was at 14. Can you say “tired and bad mood”?? Two prescriptions later, I am on the way to getting my numbers in those two areas back up where they belong.

If the test for adrenal fatigue comes back positive, I’m not sure how she will treat that yet.

And she also convinced me to try Ambien for my horrible insomnia. I have resisted Ambien for a while, despite my regular doctor trying to get me to start it. Oh my…I can’t BELIEVE the difference!! From the very first night, I fell right asleep and slept nearly all night. I felt so awake the next morning. It honestly felt a bit weird. My family laughs and says, “Welcome to the world of normal people, Mom.” Whatevs.

So here is my point, Mamas. Taking good care of yourself might actually mean sitting at Panera, like I am doing right this moment. It might mean leaving the children with daddy or a grandparent or a sitter, and attending a homeschool conference. It could mean many things. But when it comes to your health, you need to decide that it’s important enough to address.

Maybe you need to make a doctor’s appointment. Maybe you need to meet with an older, godly woman and talk through some things that you are dealing with. Would some supplements or something to help you sleep rock your world? Perhaps money for a sitter every other week needs to be a regular part of the budget.

Whatever it is, maybe now is the time to do it. Do you feel bad? Are you tired all the time, but your babies are older now and you actually could be sleeping all night but you can’t? Do you feel down or depressed a lot? Are you gaining weight and you don’t know why? Do your hubby or your kids ever ask you if you’re okay? Do you just feel stuck?

I noticed my hubby and kids asking me if I was alright all the time. I guess I was grouchier than I thought. Hm. Maybe you should ask your husband if you seem yourself. Ask a close friend if you seem more tired or stressed than usual.

And then bite that bullet and do what you need to do to get healthy. It’s worth the money to be healthy. It’s worth the time it will take to root out your symptoms and get to the bottom of things. Your family needs you, and they need you at your best, fully functioning self.

       So go take good care of yourself, Mama. You’d do it for your kids, so do it for you.