My Grandma used to say “I’m a born worrier” and I must say I have in the past
been known to get stressed, anxious and a bit panicky about things.
Especially sick kids.
The last time one of my daughters was hospitalised close to 9 times in the one year I was to say the least a nervous wreck.
There followed another couple of years of turbulence with my father’s multiple strokes, rehab and eventual passing away.
When I got pneumonia last June, I realised that my body (& mind) was on a slippery slope to adrenal fatigue and then some.
So I stopped eating sugar, looked after and nourished myself more. Tried to work through some emotional triggers and then this year have been going to yoga and meditation weekly.
So it did not go unnoticed (by myself and the Man) that when my 8 year old who was last week just complaining of a sore throat and then suddenly developed breathing difficulties during the night, collapsed and spent the following 5 days in hospital on oxygen, ventolin, steroids, antibiotics and having all sorts of tests done that I did not crack…
for the first time ever I was positively fucking zen about it all.
After all … Worry is just a habit and one I am determined to break.
So as I sit here with her home and I reflect over what I did differently I thought I would jot them down in case any of this helps anyone else.
1. I kept things in perspective and gave myself a pep talk
There is no doubt that having to deal with the terrible things I never thought I could deal with over the last few years has given me a sense of resilience and empowerment. So I took a micro moment when I felt those immediate flashes of panic – “Sal we have been through much much worse and you can do this” – resulting in me scooping up giraffe like Ms 8 and sprinting in clogs into the doctor’s when she collapsed, rather than looking around for someone to help.
2. I Surrendered Control
This is a biggie for me – I like to be in charge (No Shit – Sherlock I hear all my friends, family and colleagues) – but in terms of illness, I did not make it my responsibility to be on high alert while in hospital. I trusted in the expertise of the doctors who were keeping me fully informed and I let go and allowed them to do their job and during the nights I slept as much as possible rather than feeling like I needed to be awake watching her stats.
3. I did not engage with the stress and worry.
At every point when I felt feelings of worry about Ms 8 – I recognised it then thought of 2 positive angles to each of my concerns then took a deep breath and dismiss the stress as a neurological response . Again a big one for me – sometimes I have been known to get enveloped in the stress and really feel I am somehow not concerned enough if I am not feeling anxious and worrying all the time. Worry is a total waste of time and robs you of any joy and never changes the outcome.
4. I didn’t run myself ragged.
Again a new response for me -usually stress is a trigger for me to forget myself and pour everything into the other person’s situation. I stop eating, I don’t sleep and run on adrenaline and sugar then when it is all over I crash. This did not happen.When I was offered food, drink etc in hospital I fought my natural urge to remain immersed in the emotional stress of the situation and took a deep breath and said yes please. I did not get triggered to eat sugar or drink lots of coffee (just the one) so I had no insulin spikes and felt calmer and was able to sleep. I also did not feel I needed to still do all the work I had to do and couldn’t possibly let people down. I called, emailed and phoned and said work was sidelined until Ms 8 was out of hospital and better. Again a first for me.
5. Accepted Help & Delegated
Normally I do not ask for help. My mother is the type to just jump in and start doing but this time I looked further afield to my lovely friends who offered help and for the first time really I said yes thank – can you. I also just asked a friend “Can you bring me a coffee ” – she did (along with a – we had a chat and timeout ) – it made all the difference and normalised the day.
As I was in hospital most of the week I didn’t get a chance to find a costume for Ms 4 yr old’s Bollywood party – so rather than race around trying to fashion something or find one I did the call-out and got exactly what I needed.
When my husband offered to stay over during his working week, I didn;t refuse but said yes of course – letting go of the feeling that as her mother I should be there all the time. This swapping definitely allowed me some respite, downtime and a good night’s sleep.
6. I let go of trying to make Ms 8 feel better
I listened more to my sick kid instead of trying to entertain and cheer her up.
When she said every 5 minutes “I want to go home I just want to go home. I don’t like being sick.” For once I did not take it on board and feel it was my responsibility to change that feeling. I just gave her a hug, told her it must be hard but we were in the right place and we would go home when she was well. This was definitely less exhausting and draining in more ways than one.
7. Breathed a lot, meditated and went and sat in nature
This sounds simple but it is true. I took lots of deep breaths on waking and on going to bed and moments of just focusing on my breathing instead of the stressful situation. We are also lucky to live near bushland so I went for a walk and just sat for 10 mins surrounded by birdsong and nature and instantly felt calmer.
8. Instead of Stress – choose to feel Blessed
Bit trite but instead of engaging with those feelings of anxiety. I ignored them and instead chose to feel grateful for our situation which is not one of parents of chronically ill children. Also grateful for the amazing expertise and kindness of the nurses, doctors and specialists and health care system we have here and how important it is to have that security. This allowed me to change the focus to feeling calm and positive.
9. I wore clothes that make me happy.
I looked out mood enhancing colours and clothes that I love that I enjoy wearing. This is something I always do but it definitely makes a difference
This is not to say, next time I will handle it any better but if it helps someone in a similar situation then I am happy to help.