When Your Friends Give You Stay At Home Orders
I fully confess that lately, in order to avoid thinking about the decline of my own health, I've been doing something I would tell others to absolutely not do, myself. Clearly, I don't listen to my own advice, as I wanted to pick up extra shifts, while still a bit under the weather myself, filling shifts for last-minute, late-night call-ins.
But it came to a point that I was working too often, over-exerting myself, and now working hours I’d never repeatedly worked before in an environment where I’ve worked before, just not that shift.
I’ve always been here to serve others - in any capacity. Whether it’s advocating for someone else at their appointments, helping them stay on track with their goals, or just being there to hear them out and if they need to, be their voice when they absolutely need it.
There came a time when my neighbor, who is a retired nurse, sat me down and told me “Honey, you look like garbage." I knew it came from a place of love and since it came from someone I truly love and respect, it hit me hard.
It never occurred to me that others could tell the difference between “normal” tired, sick Kelly, and purely exhausted, mentally drained Kelly, at the expense of filling up others cups instead of my own.
A quick decline in my health
It wasn’t more than a week later that my health quickly declined and I was no longer able to commit to picking up shifts at work and my care team was hesitant about me even working the (small) amount of hours that I am scheduled for.
We compromised on a schedule that would be a good number of hours while still focusing on my physical and mental health. It was hard to put a cut in the extra money I was making, but I made a promise to myself that I would listen to my care team, as they knew what was best for me.
Homebound and unable to work
Sadly, at this time, due to other health circumstances, I’m not able to work at all and am homebound and on home health, with PT and OT. What a difference a month makes going from feeling okay but drained and still wanting to work as much as possible, to being bed-bound for the unforeseen future due to my rapid decline in health that took a real quick dip.
It’s hard to accept other’s noticing your illness and making comments about your appearance, but I was called out and I deserved it. It was an opportunity not many people have pulled me aside and told me to take a break - and that it’s OK to focus on me and just me.
Accepting advice from others
So instead of ignoring all of my symptoms, how much blood I was passing, giving myself the excuse that “I’ve been worse than this, so I’ll be fine”... I was given a dose of my own medicine that I often tell others. Don’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself until you know it won’t spill, but that you have enough for yourself.
I learned the past few months that living with IBD, sometimes you just have to say “No,” or others may step in and start to do it for you.
Acknowledging that I'm not okay
I’m thankful my friend called me out, as I was ignoring too many things, it was adding so much unnecessary stress and my mental health took a quick decline before I finally addressed my physical health and fessed up to my doctor about all the symptoms I’ve been having and we’ve been having bi-weekly appointments so keep up with my nutrition, new symptoms, and PICC line medications and adjustments to any medications being self-administered at home.
Sometimes we can’t be our own advocates because we are too blinded by the fact that “things have been worse” or “I don’t have time to deal with this extra stress, so I will ignore it” or “this will pass, I’m fine”. Truth is, I wasn’t and I’m not fine.
I was very grateful that someone stepped in and became an advocate for me when I was too blinded by stress and just tried to ignore the fact that I was indeed that ill.
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