When we hear “take care of yourself,” we think in terms of getting some time to ourselves, enjoying a hobby or an evening out with friends.
But for many moms, we get so busy taking care of the kids, house, family, and everything around us that we neglect our health and healthcare. We neglect the cardinal rule of taking care of others: Take care of yourself first.
I know. I’m guilty of this. It generally takes a smack upside the head to remind me that I need to put myself and my healthcare on my to-do list.
When the kids gets sick, I don’t hesitate to get them to the doctor or urgent care. The first sign of an ear infection has me running to the doctor. Sore throat and a fever? We move quickly for a strep test to get on antibiotics ASAP and get the healing started. Teenager wakes up and feels miserable? I’m totally okay with a day home resting in bed to help speed the recovery along.
But me? I am a gut-it-out, rest-when-I-can, push-through-it kind of person. I just keep going. And going. And going.
But that’s what Moms do, isn’t it?
Until we hit the wall.
I’m still learning to accept that I have health issues.
It sucks. And I hate to admit it. I don’t like that there are things that I can’t control. (Ok, I will admit to having slight control issues… which may lead to some of the health issues…)
But burying my head in the sand only costs me more. So, I have to force myself to turn and face my own issues head on. I have to remember the cardinal rule: Take care of yourself.
I’ve learned to be my own advocate. As a military spouse of 23 years, I have a lot of experience getting new doctors—each with their own perspective and way of doing things. Over the years, I’ve come to see this as both a blessing and a curse. A new way of thinking can sometimes be a benefit. It can give you fresh insights and a new path in your healthcare. Sometimes, however, it means you have to fight for what you think is the right way to move forward.
Reminder: Take care of yourself!!
I got reminded of all these great lessons this month.
Every single one of them came home to roost, and I wanted to smack myself for forgetting what I know to be true.
When it comes to my healthcare I need to:
- Remember to take care of it. NOW, not later. Later always gets pushed farther and farther out. Schedule those regular check-ups and KEEP the appointment.
- When you’re not feeling well, or just that things are not quite right—follow up!! Don’t wait for it to get worse to look into it. Take care of yourself. Make yourself a priority. As the airlines tell us: put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. You know why? You can’t help anyone else if you are incapacitated.
- Be your own advocate. Push the doctors and nurses for the healthcare that you think you need. You aren’t wrong. If there is a test you think you need, but they don’t, push. Make your case. Do no less than you would do for your child. Moms fight like crazy for their children, do no less for yourself. Kids need their moms, and they need healthy moms.
- Don’t take no for an answer. There’s always another person to talk to, another route to take.
- Do the uncomfortable. Yes, many of those preventative exams make us uncomfortable. We want to avoid them. You know what? Time them. The average Pap Smear takes less than 30 seconds. Seriously. I’ve had a lot, I know this for a fact. And 30 seconds of discomfort is a small price to pay for the knowledge it brings.
Here’s why I’m telling you this right now…
I have a history of abnormal pap smears. Starting in my early 20s. So I’m very familiar with the discomfort of a pap smear (almost always with a new doctor that I got to meet for the first time naked, covered by only a crinkling paper gown-thanks military health care).
Colposcopies, biopsies, freezing cells, and cervical surgery. It all sucks.
Through it all, what I’ve had driven home to me is to not skip that uncomfortable exam. But I also tend to let things get away from me. After all, who looks at their calendar and goes “Oooo yay! My pap smear is due this week!!” No one. EVER. But the last time I let it go too long, they came back with the one word no one wants to hear: cancer.
So now, when they try to tell me that I don’t need my pap, I argue. And argue. And argue. And I’m totally willing to head downtown to the Planned Parenthood clinic to get one and pay for it myself.
I spent 10 minutes arguing with the nurse this year. I skipped last year. Okay, and maybe the year before. I can’t remember. I let it get away from me. Again. Same with my mammogram. Because let’s face it, that’s not a fun exam either…
So, I got my pap after a lot of arguing and against the wishes of the nurse in charge of the clinic.
And guess what? Yup, abnormal.
So, here I sit, waiting for my scheduled colposcopy and next round of biopsies. To find out if the cancer they took out 10 years ago is back.
And it sucks.
But I’m thankful that I realized I’d missed my scheduled exam. I’m thankful that I got it on the calendar. I’m proud of myself for advocating that I get an exam even though I technically don’t fit the standard. And I’m thankful for standing up for myself and sticking to my guns.
And I want to scream to all of you.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!!
Because I can guarantee that just about everyone reading this has something they keep meaning to take care of. Something they keep meaning to get checked out. Something bothering them that they haven’t looked into yet.
Don’t put it off.
Your family needs you at your strongest and most healthy.
So, take care of yourself.
Schedule the spa day AND the doctor’s appointment.
I recommend the doctor visit first.
Because nothing would ruin a good massage like being poked and prodded afterward.
But you’re worth it.