For years, I have posted time and again the mantra, “Listen to your body. It knows best.” I believe this wholeheartedly. Our bodies are amazingly smart and when we listen, they are constantly talking to us. They let us know when we have stressed ourselves out, overdone life, or just need to stop…now!
Up until about a year and a half ago, I could triumphantly say that listening to my body was a strength.
Full-time changes things
In September of 2018, I started working full-time. It was time. My two wonderful kiddos were now college age and didn’t need me home as much. Mentally, I was ready for new challenges, and physically, I felt my RA body was stable.
As I started work, I knew I wouldn’t have long days to rest and that might be tough for me. I tried thinking through everything that might interfere with my body doing well (longer days, less time with my family, planning daily healthy lunches and dinners, etc, etc.) I did what I could at the beginning to repeat my mantra, “Listen to your body. It knows best.” I promised myself I would not be that person who stopped listening to her body.
Well, guess what happened? I did.
Working part-time makes listening to your body a lot easier than when working full-time. Duh.
My first hurdle was that I didn’t want to give up any of the responsibilities I had as a part-time employee/full time mom. I tried to keep doing it all.
My second hurdle is that I love my coworkers. Like, really love them. They are amazing. With time, our jobs and lives have become more integrated. Like me, they are dealing with their own life frustrations. Stress is a shared experience. And, sometimes listening to your own body means others have to take on more work when they too don’t need it.
Finally, I run into problems listening to my body because I enjoy my job. I find it challenging and fun. I want to keep doing it. So, I ignore what my body is saying so I can keep going.
Lesson Learned: Find help
While I started working full-time with my RA under control, it has definitely changed in the last year and a half. I have been on steroid packs multiple times for flares. At my last rheumatology visit, it was decided I need prednisone to be a daily part of my life for now.
I have had the flu for two weeks now. I passed out and fell one day while walking into work.
It is time to listen to my body.
It is also time to listen to those that care for me. FINALLY, this week, I accepted that I have many people in my life who care about me and that my 40+ hour a week job does not allow me alone to listen to my body. I have to share the responsibility with others.
When my sister, who knows me so well, sent me a message that said, “I think you should go to the doctor. A lot of symptoms beyond cold/flu happening. I know you are good about listening to your body, I am just worried,” I teared up because I knew I hadn’t been listening. I just kept pretending I didn’t hear. I made an appointment immediately.
Luckily, I also have coworkers who watch out for me. After working a few hours with the flu, my boss used her stern voice to tell me to go home. (She has the kindest heart so a stern voice means she is serious). Another friend had me sit down and took my blood sugars one day and kept checking in on me.
My kids have taken over responsibilities at home so I can rest. They know.
I am cared for. I am lucky because I have so many people who watch over me. It is hard to be a person who has taken pride in how well she cared for her body to accept that she can’t do it alone. But, one important lesson RA has taught me is that vulnerability makes me strong. It is uncomfortable and I can’t say I love it, but I know it makes me a better person. So, I am accepting this new challenge of allowing others to listen to my body with me. I am accepting that the job of being good to your body is too large for one person. I need help. Let the listening start!