I promised myself that this space would not be dedicated exclusively or primarily to my health. Essentially, it is what is and I am really tired of being forced to either say “I am great” when I am not or disclose “I am in a lot of pain” when this is my daily reality. On top of this, there is an immense feeling of guilt with either of these responses. Guilt that I am either being dishonest or droning on about my health when people were clearly only asking me to be polite.
Yesterday, however, was a turning point for me. When I am usually in pain or feeling suicidal, I know it means that I have to take some time away from work (and any other duties) to feel better. I didn’t though. I got on a 6:00 AM train to London with pain radiating from most of my body. My feet feeling crampy, my ankles stinging and my knees feeling they would snap like chicken wings. My hips were in pain, I was exhausted (my mother remarked on how lately I seem to be snoring really loudly when this was never a feature of my sleep), I was nauseated and just plain miserable.
I thought I should go to work because I was recently assigned increased responsibilities on my current project. My colleague was out of the office on annual leave (another story for another day – spoiler alert I was meant to be on holiday anyway). Workplace guilt was weighing me down just as much as my own body weight, as breathing.
The work guilt and physical pain was compounded by the fact that in one day I had to take a 2 hour 15 minute train journey to London, work a full day and then fly to Edinburgh in preparation for other work obligations. All of this in one day and I was finally broken by my challenges.
I couldn’t carry myself or my broken suitcase up the stairs of the tube station Bank. Suddenly, I became aware of the limitations the Transport for London hadn’t considered when it comes to passengers with mobility issues. I had to become vulnerable and actually ask a TFL employee to carry my suitcase up the stairs. I HATE asking for help of any kind.
When I arrived at my office after sweating profusely during my short walk from the station to the office, the handicapped access doors didn’t work. When I attempted to use them later in the day, I was advised by a building facilities person “go on, give it a good strong pull” I fought back the tears when I advised him I couldn’t and that I was using this door because I was unwell. I never realised how insensitive or just plain unaware people could be until yesterday. Just because I look like everyone else doesn’t mean that I have the same abilities.
On my flight from London, there was a married couple. They appeared to be in their 80’s. They were slim and outwardly, in good physical shape. When boarding commenced, stairs were used to exit the airport and board the plane. I wanted to move spritely down the stairs and onto the flight. Unfortunately what happened was the elderly couple and many other passengers sped around me as I tightly gripped the stair bannister. Looking at that couple made me realise that I am not like everyone else, I need a bit more time to get places and I need to take care of myself.
My weight has adversely impacted my health. I have to take responsibility for this. To know that a year or two years ago, I could do things without being out of breath, without being crippled by pain made me cry.
I cried on the train. I cried at the client site. I cried at the office. I cried in the airport. I cried in the taxi. And by the time I got to my Edinburgh hotel, the tears were streaming onto my dress. The pain I was feeling did not help, that unless I am in a wheelchair, no one is going to advocate for me, that I have to take care of myself to lessen this pain, that I have to be firm in taking time to rest. In short, my care is more than passively sleeping but actively putting a plan in place to get better.
If you, like me, are struggling with caring for yourself (especially my ladies with chronic illnesses) checkout this article from Women’s Health
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