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Self-care in the Time of Influenza

Posted Feb 28 2011 12:00am
Halfway through my masters swim class on Friday morning I knew I was doomed.

Despite weeks of echinecea, zinc ( now I know it works at least until the next study comes out that says it doesn't), vitamin C, my trusty multivitamin, water, lots of water, some sort of yuck penetrated through the armour. I have had a string of sick children since January 30 (yes, I remember that last weekend fondly when everyone was healthy at the same time) and despite my best efforts of shoring up my immune system the virus found a crack, which I'm convinced was caused by sharing the same airspace with a sniveling, feverish 2-year-old who has become, it seems, another appendage, or perhaps the multitude of sleepless nights caused by this same miserable little 2-year-old. The karma, of course, is now I personally know how miserable he felt...

On a side note, we've been to the pediatrician three times this month, which makes me feel like a rookie. With the fourth kid you'd think I'd know if there's an ear infection or not.

This being sick has made me a little crabby (my husband might quibble with the use of "little"). I'm just frustrated, the least of which is from cutting my swim workout short, missing Cross Fit (although I ache all over like I did go) and not feeling up for a run or a snowshoe that normally energizes me and makes this long winter not just bearable, but enjoyable. And this really gets my ire--my beloved Polar Activity Monitor hasn't come close to reaching the one hour target in a looooong time, now serving as a visual reminder of my physical impotence.

I don't feel good. And I'm taking it out on my kids (i.e. if you have ketchup stuck in your hair and you see me coming at you with a comb, run for your life), the dog is always in my way, I can no longer find it in myself to be polite to telemarketers, and I don't even feel well enough to enjoy a glass of wine. See, I told you it was bad.

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to make a choice with how to proceed in my pathetic state. I could plow through it, as moms typically do, or I could--hold on to your seat--take care of myself. Crazy, right?

There's a whole section in
(just one more month before it's out!) about the necessity of taking care of ourselves as well as we do our children. This is a hard concept to accept for a lot of us (and we'll avoid discussing all the baggage as to why) and sometimes it just doesn't seem practical. I mean, we have to take care of everyone else, taking care of ourselves just adds to the heap! One more thing to do! But we know it's true: self-care is like the oxygen we need to apply to ourselves first when there's a sudden change in cabin pressure; it becomes the interest earned when we need to withdraw a little of our savings; it's that stitch in time that saves nine.

So I followed the advice in my own book, I walked the talk and:
  • curled up in bed with a good novel ( Those Who Save Us, by Jenna Blum )
  • took a long, hot bath
  • painted my nails (cosmetic, sure, but it pleases me to look at my seashell pink nails and think of a warm beach)
Of course, this was made possible because my husband took the kids to the Children's Museum one day and the women's U of M basketball game the next. Not so much a favor to me (as in, let's get the hell out of here!), but it was. Had I not had an empty house I would have needed to improvise, say, curling up in bed to read Dr. Seuss out loud, a bath with a few kids and toys joining me, and maybe just one hand painted (in glittery purple). Still. It would do.

This morning I am feeling better in spirit, which is the whole point. If not more rested I am somewhat rejuvinated. I am glad for taking the oxygen mask to myself because I'll need that to face the rest of the week. My twins have fevers again, 102 degrees. "My eyes hurt," one of them said. I don't know if they are at the end of this latest round of illnesses or at the beginning. Time to roll up my sleeves, put my big girl panties on and look down every now and then at my seashell pink fingernails.

I'm looking for more ideas to rejuvinate--in small ways with children around. How do you sneak in a little self-care in the midst of germ-filled chaos?









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