- Wash your hands. I washed mine and used the hand sanitizer until they were red and crackly. But they were always clean and I didn’t bring home any extra illnesses.
- Be your own patient advocate. Docs and nurses are busy busy busy. They’ll forget a dosage or maybe even give the wrong one. Check every time or have your loved ones do it. Write a list of questions so you don’t forget during doctors’ rounds.
- Have faith in your body’s ability to heal. It’s always working hard for you. And same with doctors: trust but verify. Believe the protocol is working and trust the people administering it, but don’t forget number two.
- Docs/hospitals make zero connection between what they feed you and what’s happening in your body. I learned this years ago but was starkly reminded when I saw stage 4 cancer patients eating ice cream. I get that at a certain point people should eat whatever they want, but isn’t it common knowledge that cancer loves sugar?
- Laugh when you can and keep a light heart. Gallows humor isn’t for everyone, but it helped me get through a rough time. My sense of humor, oddly enough, came roaring back during this time.
- Don’t pay for a private room. Hospitals are lonely places, especially at night. Your roommates can keep you sane. Human connection is everything when you’re sick.
- Sleep when you can, because it’s hard to get rest in that setting. They’re up your butt all the time: take your temperature, take your medicine, here’s some food, here’s a shot (and not the fun kind). And they wake you up at 6am for no reason!
- Bring some comforts from home. Everyone made fun of me, but I had my hub bring me an essential oil diffuser and it helped keep me sane. And people loved it. (There was NO fresh air— the window didn’t even open a crack!)
- Music and earphones will keep you sane. Meditations, music, cat videos.. whatever brings you joy.
- This was a new one: if you ever want all your Tupperware back, get admitted to hospital.
- Really think about who you tell, at least at first. You’re in there to rest and recover, not worry about other people’s feelings about your illness or to get loads of visitors.
- Use it as a wake up call. Life is precious, and even if you believe we have many lives, you’ll only have this one once. Who was it who said, ‘Nothing focuses the mind like a hanging’? Get your priorities straight.
- Always have a will, even if it’s not finalized. No matter how old you are. Even if you don’t have kids.
- Once you’re out, you’ll appreciate the little things again: your own bed, a hot shower, fresh air. Good health of course! Appreciating the little things in life allows for more goodness to come in. I can’t emphasize this enough. The little moments in life are all we have, really. That and love. Appreciate those you love. Friends, family, your pets. Love is why we’re here, after all.
The photo on the left is the view from my hotel room in Bali. On the right is the view from my hospital bed a couple weeks later.
Life can change in an instant. We all know this rationally, but few of us really take in that message, myself included. Sure, when young, talented, famous people die, we’re shocked. We think, ‘Wow, if HE (or she/they) can die so young and in the prime of his life, then of course a lesser human being, (me) absolutely could.’ And it scares us and gives us pause for a day or two. We may hold each other a little tighter for a minute. But that fades quickly. No, it usually takes something that hits even closer to home like losing a loved one unexpectedly, getting a bad diagnosis, or having an accident for it to really hit home.
When I got back from Bali, I somehow developed an abscess and it became badly infected (staph infection). I went to the ER and they admitted me after taking a blood test and seeing that my inflammation markers were really high. I was there for a week. I’m healing now thankfully but it was pretty scary there for a few days. I’m just sharing because I want to remind people how fragile life is. There’s a meme that says, ‘ The problem is, you think you have time.’ And I don’t think its meant to say, YOU DON’T HAVE ANY TIME YOU’RE GONNA DIE SOON! but I think its saying, time goes by so quickly. we are distracted and busy with our jobs, our to-do lists, etc, and we forget to take time to do the things we really love, or tell people how we feel. It would be tragic if your life or that of someone you love came to an end suddenly and you didn’t share how you felt. Don’t let that happen. Be vulnerable, risk feeling stupid; it’s hard but its worth it. You will never have to think, ‘if only I had done or said x…’
Feeling down? Here are some ways to instantly raise your vibe. If it’s more than just a blah moment, you may just have to feel it to heal it. Give yourself time, and then when you’re ready, try one of these instant mood boosters. Or do something that lights YOU up, whatever that may be.
Just when you start getting in the flow and think you’ve got this ‘life’ stuff figured out, things start becoming a shit show.
You fall apart physically
- Your eyelashes disappear / get thinner, aging you by at least ten years
- Grey hairs come in in droves
- Menopause looms
- You creak and crack whenever you move (or pull a muscle putting on a sock)
- Two words: muffin top
- Wrinkles…deep lines…puffy eyes. All the stuff that makes you scared to look in the mirror every morning.
Then there’s life circumstances:
- Aging parents. Family members start dying /getting dementia/ cancer etc.
- Empty nest syndrome
- Having babies is a young woman’s game. For older women it’s exhausting— plus you have to deal with all the rest of the bullet points.
- Harder to change careers or get a new job
No wonder the midlife crisis is a thing. BUT! There’s hope. Some of the good points are truly priceless, so they balance out the bad.
- Hard-earned knowledge. For what you lose in beauty/youth, you make up for in wisdom. (Seriously! Would you *really* want to be 22 again?)
- Mo’ money
- You’re more confident / secure in who you truly are
- It’s much easier to not care about what others think of you (true freedom!)
- Day drinking is cool
- You’re usually higher up in your career / have lots of expertise
- The chance to be a hot cougar!
- Empty nesters can travel more and not have to sleep in a hostel or one-star hotel
- Wisdom. Ok it’s the same as knowledge but it’s essential. Imagine making the same mistakes you did in your teens or 20s!
- You get really clear on your life’s priorities and what’s most important to you. Times a’ wasting, people. You ain’t getting any younger; the time to do reach your goals is now!
What would you add to these lists?
Do you agree that the good outweighs or at least balances out the bad?
A couple years ago the hub and I were in the Canary Islands. One late morning he was excited to announce that he’d scouted out a remote bay for us to sit in, because god forbid we lie on the nice sandy beach like normal humans. He’d rather hang out in this rocky cove where it was virtually guaranteed there’d be no one else. Ok fine—I know him and his little quirks. So we get ready to go and he says, ‘Oh but we kinda have to climb down a bit, so bring your sneakers.’ Of course, there’s always a catch with these ventures.
So we hike up and over this volcanic hill, down and around to the bay. Sure enough, we have to climb down to get to it—like ten feet! (3.5 meters) And there wasn’t a soft sandy landing in case one were to fall—it was tons of hard rocks. He assured me it would be easy. He knows this, he says, because he already tried it. Uh huh. So he goes down first and shows me where to place my feet. Within 2 minutes I was sweaty, shaky, anxious—and loudly cursing him out. ‘This is so typical of you! Why can we never just go where normal people go?’
You know that saying, ‘watch out, that first step is a doozy?’ I don’t know where it comes from but yeah, that first step was…challenging. It jutted out like a 9-month-pregnant woman. So you had to find a place to hold onto at the top while carefully positioning each foot father down, all the while twisting your body like a wild animal. It didn’t feel safe at all. But even with all my complaining and yelling I was determined to get down. It took me like half an hour, but I did it. I was definitely not graceful going down, and I even cut my leg, but I was successful.
Once I got to the bottom, I realized it wasn’t so bad. I could probably even do it again. I was a little nervous to climb down again the next day, but I did it in about two minutes. It was really just overcoming the fear the first time. The next few times were a cake walk. And if I hadn’t have overcome my fear by just doing it, I would’ve missed out on sitting in a beautiful, protected cove where I could swim safely and Alex could be his recluse self with no people around.
You probably know where I’m going with this: first steps always seem daunting. It looks too challenging, too risky, you don’t feel ready; lots of different fears and/ or excuses come up. So you put it off, you scream, you blame, anything but take that initial action. I know I’ve done that with a million different things, and once I finally take it, I wonder what all the fuss was about. And I wish I had taken it way earlier. Every. Damn. Time.
You want to reach your goals, right? You want to fulfill your dreams. So…what first step can you take right now? What fears aren’t actually as bad as you’re making them out to be? I think as humans we always think we have to do some major action, but ANY action can be a first step. And then tomorrow you make one more small step. And another and another, and soon you’re walking out that door. Don’t worry about the whole map being laid out for you just yet; the steps will appear along the way, as long as you trust the process. Let go, trust, and just do it!