Woo-hoo! 2014! Bring it on, Baby! I love the New Year! It is my FAVORITE holiday! And while I love a good party, I seldom go to, and I’ve never thrown, a New Year’s Eve party. Instead, I get the biggest buzz from opening a new calendar–and I realize that in making that confession, I’ve probably convinced you that I am the dullest person who ever lived.
Seriously, I love the clean, unspoiled pages of a new calendar the same way I love the clean, unspoiled pages of a new notebook. To me, these two items represent potential, the promise of things to come, endless possibilities, and at heart, I am a dreamer.
I spend New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and quite possibly the first two weeks of January talking about and writing about the old year—all its ups and downs, what has changed and what hasn’t, the memories I will save and the ones I will try to forget–and the new year—all the plans, resolutions, hopes, aspirations…good stuff.
I do this at the start of every month, every week, and provided I wake early enough, every day. And I get that same buzz, but to a much lesser degree.
I believe in and make Resolutions—on a yearly, monthly, and sometimes weekly basis. I think that anytime anyone can make a genuine effort to do anything better, it’s probably a step in the right direction, and while I know that God loves me just as I am, I could be managing every aspect of my life better. More importantly, I’m pretty good at keeping resolutions no matter when I make them. Woo-hoo, me!
The biggie for me in 2014 is self-care.
About a week ago, as I was finishing my mother-in-law’s morning routine which requires no fewer than three lifts—from bed to wheelchair, from wheelchair to toilet, from toilet back to wheelchair—changing her, changing her bed sheets, and running back and forth getting her breakfast and meds ready as I was taking her vitals and doing all this with children underfoot and receiving what I am sure was meant to be constructive criticism from my mother who was visiting, I slapped the blood pressure cuff on myself. 208/118. No joke.
My husband freaked out a little. “That’s high enough to be hospitalized! You need to see a doctor!”
“No, this is situational. Give me an hour and it will be normal,” I said. Of course, I was thinking, Hospitalization sounds like a $&%@-ing vacation to me!
And when you don’t take the dangerously high blood pressure into account, it’s almost a comical scene. Imagine a high stress situation and you just happen to have a blood pressure cuff in your hand? Does that ever really happen? Really? Apparently, it does if you are me.
An hour later, it was down to a comfortable 120/80. Okay, that’s not great either, but it’s not on the brink of having a stroke, so I’ll take it. It’s borderline pre-hypertension. The thing is, my blood pressure was never borderline anything until 18 months ago. It was normal. Sometimes, it was even a little low.
For most of my life, I’ve been blessed with extraordinarily good health. I could get away with eating whatever I liked and never exercising and still be both thin and strong. I never had headaches. I seldom caught colds. Provided that I got four hours of sleep per night, I functioned like a well-rested person. I never had aches or pains. I could run a 10K without training for it. Okay, THAT was probably 25 years ago, not 18 months ago.
Now, not only is my resting blood pressure borderline-prehypertension, my back hurts, I get headaches—probably because my eye-glass prescription keeps changing, I’m slightly overweight, I’m tired all the time, my toenails are turning black—eww, gross—and my mammogram is long over-due. It’s been years since my last mole-check (and for a light-skinned person who used to have tanning competitions with her friends, this is a much bigger deal than the mammogram). Running just a mile would probably kill me. And despite the many trips I’ve made to the pharmacy for other people, I still haven’t had my no-appointment-necessary flu-shot.
It’s safe to say that I’m falling apart physically. In the past two years, I would bet that I have aged over a decade. I look—gasp—my actual age. I hate that. I loved being 40 and having people assume I was 30. Those days are gone.
But here’s the real question: What am I going to do about it? Here we are on the cusp of a bright New Year. It’s the ideal time to muster all that excitement I have for a new calendar and make some positive changes.
I’m going to start by making an appointment with a doctor, have a physical and discuss all this with her. And from there, I will come up with a plan. Besides the dentist, the ophthalmologists and the gynecologist, I haven’t seen a doctor in over seven years.
While I do think that having two small children and an elderly mother-in-law to care for has created many stressful situations and certainly puts my own physical care on the backburner, I can’t really use them as my only excuse.
Sadly, I am sure that if I pulled a journal from ten years ago and again from twenty years ago, I could find entries in which I am complaining that I just don’t have time for “self-care.” Ha! Please. I’m now amazed at the incredible amount of time I had for myself post-children, but pre-grandma, so before kids? Where did my time go? Work, I guess. Housework? Having a social life? Maybe.
However, not making time for “self-care” was no big deal back then. I was healthy–more so than I deserved to be. Things are a little different now. As much as I do believe a hospital stay is as close to a vacation as I’m going to get, I’d like to avoid all the other crapola one has to go through while recovering from a heart-attack or a stroke. And while I don’t want to ever get old, I’m not looking to die young either.
So, my overall New Year’s Resolution for 2013 is to make my own health-care a priority. My goal for January is to make a doctor’s appointment. It’s a start!
And just so you know, anyone who reads this and says something like, “Oh, you should so get away for a few days. Go to the beach. It’s a great de-stressor,” but doesn’t offer granny-care and child-care, will be in danger of receiving one of those mythical shoe-beatings. You’ve been warned.