- 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.
I want to give a little shoutout to my mama. We’ve had our differences over the years, like any mother and daughter, but I can honestly say she’s one of the most thoughtful people I know. And woefully under-celebrated for it. One small example: if you mention you like something, even in passing, she’ll put it in her memory bank for later. She’ll notice what chocolate you eat when you’re home and mail it halfway around the world, wrapped, for Christmas. My mother has never forgotten a birthday or an anniversary or overlooked an important date. (The woman’s got a memory of an elephant. Unless you’ve wronged her—in that case she lets it go). She sends more cards for these events than anyone I know: even to people she doesn’t know that well or who have abused her and my father’s kindness.
With her church group, Peg hand-knits shawls for people who are sick or grieving. My grandmother used to call her the power behind the throne, (my father being the king) and she wasn’t kidding. I think even Dad would agree (to a point) that that’s a fairly accurate statement, or at least not inaccurate. Hers is a quiet power.
Probably no one would accuse her of being touchy feeling or lovey dovey. My first boyfriend still jokes about how, after years of us dating, she still signed her cards to him, ‘Fondly, Peg.’ As mentioned, her caring nature is more quiet; backed up by actions instead of little nicknames or endearing monikers, for which she has little patience. (I may have gotten that from her.)
My mother is extremely humble and probably would never want me to post her picture here, but I just wanted to show my appreciation, because unfortunately it’s rare that I do. Love you Mom! Thank you for all you do, for me and so many others.
And the world’s your oyster!
I haven’t quit blogging! Just been very busy this month. But I’ll be back in full force very soon. Come with me to Bangkok for a few days and then Bali, Indonesia for a couple weeks. Can’t wait to discover Bali!
This is one small excerpt of a chapter I wrote in what may become a book. Don’t laugh, as Joyce Carol Oates says, we ALL have at least one good story in us.
‘The great irony of spiritual principles is that for healing, you need to do the complete opposite of what human nature would have us do. You have to let go of the worry, the anxiety, the constant living in the future, or the past. And you have to release the need for control. That’s not easy to do, especially for us Type A people. I’m not even close to a Type A person but I become one in certain situations when I’m trying desperately to control the outcome. Universal law wants us to meditate on what we want and how we want to FEEL when we get it, then walk around with the knowing that we already have it. That’s not easy because it’s not logical to humans. But it actually works.’
Do something every day that scares you. Or at least once a week. Or at least occasionally—it is life affirming! The thing I did recently was really basic, and I’m sure most people would think I’m a total wimp for having anxiety about it. But it was challenging for me. I swam in a pond. Big deal, right? Well it was, because I had always avoided that pond because I’d been told I could get my toe snapped off by a turtle. And I imagined other creepy creatures just under the surface ready to bite. (I know there’s eels and catfish and who knows what else?) Plus I’ve always hated swimming in dark water where you can’t see what’s beneath you (thanks Jaws). It wasn’t exactly fun swimming out far and thinking about the turtles, but I felt great afterward. And then I went in the next three days and actually enjoyed it.
We often take on the anxieties and fears of our elders/ancestors/families without even realizing it. Not to mention society’s conditioning. Casting off the unfounded fears is so liberating, you may just become addicted to the rush of doing so. What can you do today that scares you? Talk to a stranger? Speak in public? Have a difficult conversation you’ve been putting off? Try it— you just may surprise yourself.