Another long day at the hospital. I’m exhausted…mentally, emotionally, and physically. It’s been almost four weeks since I’ve been home…since I’ve slept in my own bed…since I’ve kissed my husband good-night. As I sit here, I am reminded of recent conversations with caring friends. They echo the same words I’ve expressed to my sister on multiple occasions… “Please make time to take care of yourself.” I know that taking time for myself is critical. It’s like the safety talk repeated by the attendant on every flight…
If the oxygen mask falls from the compartment above you, first place the mask on yourself then assist children and the elderly.
Logically I know that taking care of myself is important. Especially since stress, poor eating habits, and lack of sleep are contributing factors for cancer. As a caregiver, I have fallen into the habit of ignoring my needs more often than not. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sat in front of the computer to write a this post but ended up addressing paperwork and making calls for my Mother and Grandmother. I know that if I don’t take care of myself, I won’t be able to stay healthy and be available for them. But one thing leads to another and before I know it another day has passed.
When I do carve out time for myself, I feel guilty. Do I really need to do “X” or is it more important to be there for them? I rationalize my needs away as I think things like “I’m not confined to a hospital bed. They need me to be there to help. They can’t do these things for themselves.” Or “Maybe I should just stop in for a few minutes to check on them.” And before I know it…another day is gone with nothing on my personal plate addressed.
Tonight I chose to listen to the well-intentioned voices of friends. Tonight I take the advice I’ve so often given. Tonight I remind myself that being a good caregiver means that I must first take care of my health…mental, emotional and physical. And tonight I pause for myself. Sharing the thoughts in my head helps me to relax and relieves the stress. So tonight, I pause to write and pray.