I imagine I’m probably one of the worst patients to treat. I fully understand the advice I receive but I’m horrible at following them. We’ve all been told it; Stress can really affect how we handle existing and future problems arising from having neuromyelitis optica (NMO) and admittedly, I’m in the habit of taking on quite a lot.
I love to work hard and I work to live well. The type who suffers from wanderlust, adventure and trying new things, I generally only operate at hyper speed. A couple of months ago I knew I was at yet another crossroad. Where previously I could manage daytime fatigue, the burning sensation and general pain, my body had started to feel sluggish, unresponsive and exhausted. I tried to sleep it off, eat well and rest but I couldn’t bounce back. I recently blogged about a flare as a result but still couldn’t feel better.
I used to believe that all things happen for a reason but since my diagnosis almost 7 years ago I’m more likely to believe things are a result of my actions. I should have taken more time to recover from that last flare but instead I tried to push ahead. I was headed to an MRI and in a moment of, well, I’m not sure what happened, but I drove our car into the wall trying to park it. In my mind I was reversing to straighten the wheel. In reality I clearly left it in drive. With just a few bruised ribs and an expensive repair to the car, I’m ok albeit my driving ego is forever ruined. 4 days later having no business on a bike, I thought it was a good idea. I fell off and ended up with 8 stitches in my knee. And shortly there after, house bound and stir crazy, Sophie came home with a simple summer cold, which I caught and it turned into a sinus infection.
This is the part where I start to tell myself I just have bad luck. It’s also the part where I make fun of myself because if I don’t laugh about it I’ll need to cry. But it’s also the part where it’s important to have a strong support network. This is where my family, friends and medical practitioners tell me I’m overwhelmed and I need a break. Step one to feeling better is admitting I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.
In previous years the Guthy Jackson Foundation has provided workshop sessions on mindfulness and mental health at their annual Patient Day. I recently went back to a few mindfulness and meditation mobile phone apps on a daily basis to find my balance again. For those of you out there who suffer from some serious stress, I urge you to take some time for mental health even if it’s a few minutes with an app every day, or the universe will make you take a break.