Friday, November 16, 2012

Putting myself at the top of the list

I really don't consider myself to be a selfish person.  I'm always willing to help the kids at the high school where I work, I'm a good friend to other people and my family knows that I will always be there for them.  That's just my nature ... caring and nurturing.  The only problem with that has been that taking care of myself has always been last.  When you're in an airplane and they're going through the emergency procedures, what do they always say about oxygen masks?  Something to the effect that if the cabin loses pressure, the oxygen masks will come down.  If you're with a child, secure your mask first and then do so for the child.  And why is that?  Simple ... you can't help someone else if you're dying yourself!  Yet, why is it that I am the last one that I have paid attention to my whole life?  That's a good question and one that I really need to ponder.  Self-care is not about being selfish.  In order to be completely present in this world, I must take care of myself first.  So that's what I did today.

It was the Friday before a week off of work for Thanksgiving and a lot of people were absent at work.  Of course, that always seems to be the way before a long break.  But I had a physical therapy appointment that got scheduled today and it was her only opening.  Of course administration was perfectly fine with it because I let them know in plenty of time and, besides, they have been super supportive of me seeking medical care as I need it.  I am a good employee and work hard, so they know I'm not taking advantage.  After I went walking at lunchtime with my friend, which we do every day, off I went to my physical therapy appointment.

The physical therapist has been working on the pain in my back, so now we're adding working on building strength in my legs, too.  I caught her up to speed on the osteoarthritis in both knees and fibromyalgia diagnosis so that she could adjust what she is doing with me.  She wanted to see my range of motion and look at my legs while I was walking, so she told me I was going to need to put on shorts since I was wearing jeans that covered me up.  I thought, Oh no, here we go again.  If you've been reading my blog for a while, you may recall that months ago I had to get a MRI and was told to change into scrubs but they didn't fit me.  My first thought was, geez, the shorts aren't going to fit, especially when she gave me a pair that had a label that said "large" on it.  I don't recall ever, in my entire life, fitting into just a large ... it's always been XL, 1X, 2X, etc.  I slipped off my shoes, took off my jeans and held my breath as I climbed into the shorts.  And do you know what?  They fit!  Not only that, they were actually too big.  Maybe that large runs big, but whatever - it made me feel good.  So the physical therapist did her examination of me and talked to me about exercises for my legs.  Then I asked her what exercise would be good for me to do everyday in addition to the stretching exercises.  She said the best thing would be an exercise bike or swimming.  I shared with her that I walk every day and she said that's good, as long as it doesn't hurt me more.  In fact, because I already spend the time walking, I can have little to no resistance when using the bike but it would be good for me to do it since it'll build muscle.  I don't have a bike at home, so I'm planning on joining a local gym tomorrow.  I've actually been thinking about it for a while since it's only $10 a month for a membership at this particular gym.  I want to increase my strength training, especially around my legs, but I also don't want to go crazy with the exercise.  If I limit myself at the gym, that'll help tremendously.  I am definitely putting my all in taking care of my body now, so I'm willing to do what I need to do to remain healthier.

Don't worry, it doesn't hurt at all.
If the walking and physical therapy wasn't enough, I also had an appointment with my acupuncturist later in the evening.  I always look forward to going, it's so soothing.  We focused in on my legs today since that's where most of the pain was concentrated, with a few spots on my arms, forehead and ankles as well.  She stuck the needles in me, turned on soothing music and left me to relax as much as possible on the table.  It's funny, every time I go, I end up having some great prayer time with God, where I just close my eyes and pray not specifically seeking answers but expressing what's in my heart as I lie there vulnerable underneath the needles. Today I prayed for continued healing, not only from the pain in my body but from the pain of battling weight my entire life and the emotions that come with that.  Dealing with why you choose food to deal with stress, boredom, unresolved feelings or just living life through food is difficult and I find that it is completely challenging.  Will I always feel like the food is calling my name or will I someday have a normal existence when it comes to it?  It has always been an escape from my feelings for me. 

Feeling angry?  Food's the answer! 
Feeling happy?  Food can be a way to celebrate.
Feeling anxious?  Food will calm your nerves. 

Developing new habits, even the healthy ones, takes time.  I have to constantly remind myself of that because I like things now.  I don't want to wait, yet I'm seeing that sometimes I just don't have a say in the matter.  That sucks, but okay, okay, it's what I have to do. 


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