This past week has shown me how I need to learn to prioritize my health. I have been sick with the flu and I was sicker than I have been in a long time. I have overestimated myself. I have gone back to taking on more than I can handle and dealing with stresses as if they are the norm.
I started getting sick eight days ago on a Friday. I ended up leaving work at around 1 pm because I was feeling tired and feverish. I figured the weekend would help to recuperate. I seemed to get better at first but Monday came along and the flu symptoms started to creep up on me once again.
Come Wednesday and I can barely get out of bed. Of course, I overestimated myself because I quietly told myself “it was just the flu” and all I needed was one day to recuperate and I would be back at work the following morning. But the symptoms kept coming – swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, headache, body aches, and stomach problems. But I told myself, tomorrow would be better.
By late Wednesday afternoon, I started experiencing severe abdominal pain I tried to convince myself would pass. See, I am very stubborn like that. After nearly an hour of dealing with pain that radiated from my abdomen to my chest and my back, I realized that I needed to get to the hospital. Again, as stubborn as I am, I got my kids and drove us to the ER. I thought they would figure it out and send me home.
I underestimated how sick I was. I arrived at the ER only to find myself with a blood pressure of 215/165 – a number that even shocked me. I did not even realize my BP was up, let along that high. I had been diagnosed with borderline high blood pressure or prehypertension previously and I have been very good about watching my salt intake and my diet so this I could not have predicted. I really thought I had things under control but I was sadly mistaken.
I have a bad habit of overestimating and even underestimating myself and my abilities. Of late, I have been taking on more than I should and I have been struggling to handle stress. This experience was my reality check. I spent a night in the hospital and my kids spent the night at their aunt’s house.
My biggest fear has been for the longest time that I would be a burden on those I love. But now, my biggest fear is my children losing their mother. How could I let myself get this sick? I don’t know but I know where I stand right now.
The hospital wanted me to spend another night there but I wanted to come home to my boys and I also didn’t want to add the stress of another night to the hospital bill. I spent most of Thursday evening and all of Friday just trying to get better. I now have to take a blood pressure medication daily but I am grateful that things didn’t get worse because with how high my blood pressure was I am lucky to be alive. Between the flu and my RA meds and all the cold medications I was taking, I must have had an angel watching over me.
Those of us with autoimmune diseases need to be aware of the complications our illnesses pose. The complications depend on the disease and the side effects of medications used to suppress the immune system can be quite severe including infections that are hard to manage. With RA, the complications affect the skin, eyes, lungs, blood vessels and heart and include susceptibility to infections and anemia. Systemic inflammation puts RA patients at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Having RA also increases your risk of a stroke.
I have been lucky that my RA has been under control – at least I thought it was. I am fortunate because after six years, I show no signs of deformity. But my blood pressure and my susceptibility to illness remind me that my RA really isn’t under control. For me, it is my wakeup call. I need to go back to being serious about my health and managing stress.
I thought I was handling myself pretty well but stress has been a dominating factor in my life lately. I let things and people get to me and I shouldn’t. I have made a decision that the only solution I have is to minimize or remove these people from my life.
I have to do what is best for me and my children. Because, my kids need me to be their mother and they need me healthy. My hospital stay affected them too. My five year old hasn’t left my side since I got home and my teen keeps checking on me and reminding me that he loves me. I owe it to them to focus on being healthy so that they can have the best mother I can possibly offer.