I have an important statement to make: you need to listen to your body when it tries to tell you something. Got an ache? A pain? A wheeze? Listen. Because I didn't & it knocked me flat on my back for over a week!
It started as an annoying cough a few Sundays ago, around the time we started making dinner. I didn't think much of it; I'd recently switched allergy medications & figured my body was still adapting to Claritin after taking Zyrtec for so long. But then I started to feel stuffy as we loaded our dirty dishes into the dish washer. By bedtime that night, I was reaching for the NyQuil. The next day, my eyes were watery, my nose was runny, my ears ached & my voice was somewhere between James Earl Jones & Barry White - and I'm not even a guy!
But did I listen? Nope. I kept up my usual routine of working & running errands & tending to housework. Sure, I felt tired & clammy, but it would pass!
My co-workers were concerned. "Do you need to take the day & go to the doctor?" my supervisor kindly asked. "No, I think I should be OK. I'm taking cough syrup & drinking lots of water," I said, sounding as optimistic as possible before turning away to reach for the Kleenex. "Hey, why is some guy answering Renee's phone?" another coworker asked after dialing my line. "Haha. It's me, Jeff," I rumbled back in my newly-discovered basso profondo. And if being referred to as "Mr. Pugh" wasn't annoying enough, I barely slept because I couldn't stop coughing at night & my nose was so red from constant blowing that I was worried Santa was going to show up & offer me a gig guiding sleighs.
And I still didn't listen, even though my cough was getting worse, and the pain in my ears & sinuses was becoming impossible to ignore. It wasn't until nearly 5 days later that I finally paid attention to what my body was trying to tell me. I was sitting at our breakfast table, feeling like a pack of angry bears mauled me in my sleep. "I feel pretty terrible," I admitted to my boyfriend - who responded with honesty: "You look pretty terrible, too." I called my doctor & set an appointment for the afternoon; I picked my z-pack up from the pharmacy that evening. I spent the entire weekend trying to listen to my body - which meant taking a nap when I felt tired, instead of ignoring the feeling & trying to muddle though it.
It was surprisingly difficult to do! We typically spend our weekends planning meals, making grocery lists & trips, and cleaning the house from top to bottom, so I felt guilty saddling my boyfriend with all the work while I shuffled around wearing PJs & drinking honey tea (I was also more than a little disappointed that I missed out on a Saturday trip to Costco. I am a devotee of the free samples - or as a friend calls them, "Costco Tapas"). Fortunately, feeling physically awful trumped my feelings of guilt, so I got the rest I needed. By Monday - over a week after first feeling sick - I was much better. Maybe not quite back to 100%, but at least up to about 80%. Truth be told, it took until the following weekend for me to feel well enough to tackle cleaning the house & running errands - which means I was out of commission for nearly 2 weeks over a stupid cold.
I am sure my recovery would have been much faster if I'd gone to the doctor earlier, or rested when I first felt ill. But, because I am the person I am, and the person I am is incredibly stubborn, I ended up feeling worse for longer than necessary, all because I refused to pay attention to my body's distress signals. Learn from my mistakes! If you start to feel unwell, be sure to:
- REST! Get a good night's sleep, and if you start to feel tired during the day, take a break. You don't even need to nap; just sit or lie down somewhere quiet & peaceful for 15 minutes.
- drink lots of fluids - especially water. It helps flush the grossness out & keep you feeling hydrated.
- go to the doctor when things get unmanageable - even if you've only been under the weather for a short while. If you feel awful to the point it's impacting your ability to function, it's better to go to the doctor to find out you have a cold, rather than wait for the cold to become something serious - like pneumonia!
- and of course, pay attention to how you feel & what it means - don't ignore what your body tells you!
Submitted by Renee Pugh