Of course caregivers don’t know how to take care of themselves. Of course physicians, nurses, holistic wellness practitioners, and massage therapists counsel balance, moderation, and self-care all while running themselves into the ground. And, of course, most of us think we are the exception. We are the ones doing all the right things while our colleagues run themselves into the ground. We can be arrogant, too.
I recall one of my students talking about massaging a veteran therapist. He was shocked (his word) at the condition of her back muscles, and at the level of postural distortion he saw. He asked me, “We are trained to know body mechanics. We are supposed to know how to move and stretch so we don’t hurt ourselves. How does somebody who knows this get so messed up?” I shook my head, said something about the difference between what we know and what we do, and silently congratulated myself on my superior self-care.
Arrogance. Schadenfreude. But, as a friend once said, the karma train makes all stops. Last week, it slammed right into me. I woke up with a painfully sore throat, and over the course of the day, started to feel feverish and dizzy. Rather than go to bed, or go to a doctor, I muscled through some classes and meetings. Finally, after three days and no improvement, I admitted that I was sick. I cancelled all my clients for the next few days, and weakly drove myself to a clinic. The conclusion: some kind of virus. Nothing to do but drink lots of fluids, and rest.
I settled in to my couch with water bottles and internet devices in reach. After the first fluff video and midday nap, I emailed one of my clients, saying that I knew I would be fine by the end of the week, and would she like to reschedule? This was her response:
“Though I will sign up for more massages (of course), it seems mercenary to schedule something at this moment. I am solely focused on your well-being this morning! Just keep getting better.”
Rest. So, with that coaxing and permission, I did. I often tell my clients that doing nothing is “the hardest easy thing in the world.” I certainly felt it this week. Clearly, though, I needed it. Now that I am actually feeling better, I am grateful for taking the rest.