Several weeks ago, I was abruptly awakened in the early morning hours by the sensation I was on fire. Thinking I might actually be experiencing what I’d only heard other women talk about, I thought to myself, “This must be a hot flash!” A split second later I was absolutely freezing and immediately pulled the quilt up, curled myself into a fetal position and desperately tried to get warm. Its summer in Texas folks and my husband keeps the air conditioning at 80 degrees…
Not a hot flash (thank God), but something was definitely wrong. I tossed and turned for a few hours before falling into a decent sleep again. However, when I woke to the alarm I had a really bad headache throughout the back of my head and down my neck. It was hard to turn my head because there was so much pain. Writing it off as the result of sleeping in an odd position, and grateful the chills had subsided, I popped two ibuprophen tablets and got ready to begin the day’s activities.
The cycle of fever/chills, severe head and neck pain went on for four days (and lots of ibuprophen) before I finally called to get an appointment with my primary care physician. I’m a mom…I don’t have time to be sick! Moms don’t get sick! He asked me some questions, looked here and poked there before telling me I probably had some kind of virus that would run its course in 7-10 days.
After toughing it out through the weekend, on Monday morning I couldn’t take the pain anymore, I called his office to schedule a follow up. This time he could immediately see I was worse off and ran some blood tests. The next day when the results were in, he called with the command that I immediately go to the emergency room.
Turns out the blood test revealed my liver enzymes were FIVE TIMES normal. No wonder the whites of my eyes were yellow and my cheeks looked like I’d rubbed dandelions on them. When I got to the ER he was already there talking with the doctor on duty. A few CAT scans, an MRI, two ultrasounds, and a spinal tap later it was revealed I had viral meningitis.
No idea how I would have gotten it, and thank goodness no one else in the family came down with it. But four days of hospital care, IV fluids, and pain medication were only the beginning of the recovery process.
I could say this was a nightmare experience, because it was truly the most painful thing I have been through (and I’ve had five kids, 3 C-sections, and passed a kidney stone so I am no stranger to pain), but instead I choose to see it as several really important life lessons to be thankful for!
First, it is crucial to listen to your body. I talk all the time to parents about listening to your inner voice and using your intuition when it comes to parenting teenagers, but it’s also an excellent tool when it comes to your personal health. I am rarely sick, and by day four when I first saw my doctor I should have insisted on some blood work, but I went with what he was telling me even though my gut didn’t agree at the time. The truth is, it was indeed a virus, but it ended up attacking my liver and had I known earlier what was going on I could have been put on anti-viral medication and something for the pain so I wasn’t taking large amounts of ibuprophen to try and function. I also wouldn’t have lost 10 lbs because I wasn’t eating or drinking fluids for days.
Second, it’s important to advocate for yourself or have someone with you when you go to the hospital to do so for you if you can’t. My mom ended up driving me to the hospital and staying with me as my husband was out of town. After several tests they were stumped and considering sending me home…I don’t think I would have let them do that, but my mom sure as heck wasn’t going to allow it to happen. (Moms are the best…even when you’re almost fifty years old!)
And third, likely most important of all, when you are sick it makes you appreciate good health! You cannot appreciate the light without knowing the dark and often we take our good health for granted. There is nothing like serious illness to make you really grateful when you once again feel well!
A month later I am making great progress in regaining my stamina and strength, integrating those life lessons was the key! Listening to my body as I began to return to my workouts, stepping up my meditation practice as a way to quiet the “outside” world, and beginning each day with a prayer of thanks for feeling physically healthy has become my routine.
With every situation or circumstance life brings, there is a choice…to respond as if you have been somehow slighted or betrayed; or to learn, integrate and build resilience.
I choose the latter!
The Enlightened Mom Workshop – October 20-21, 2017 will be held at The Union in Highland Village. Join Kim Muench as she welcomes award winning author of “The Enlightened Mom,” nationally known speaker, and spiritual coach Terri Britt for a one-of-a-kind event just for moms! For more information: Go to www.terribritt.com/moms or call Kim Muench at 972-689-0250.