Life has thrown a lot at me during the past 18 months or so. So many changes in a relatively short time has challenged my emotional and physical limits. Perhaps you can relate.
I’m from the United States, so when my mother was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour during my Christmas visit in 2016 I began a long, difficult journey with my family. My mother had always been supportive of me when I was in and out of hospital as a child. This was my opportunity to support her as she navigated the medical world. I travelled back and forth from the USA three times, going whenever my mother felt she needed me there. During the final three weeks of my mother’s life my family gathered together every night as her condition changed. That was some of the most precious time we’ve ever had together.
Only seven months after my mother’s death my father’s health began declining and doctors discovered undiagnosed metastatic prostate cancer in his chest. One final trip to the USA took me to a hospice facility where my father spent his last week. My family and I once again spent special time visiting with my father until he became unconscious. He died peacefully during the night. Another funeral and working on settling the estate followed. My sisters and I were stressed, but managed with only a few cross words which is a blessing.
During my travels I came to realise that my body is more fragile than it ever has been. My exercise routine was repeatedly interrupted, so I wasn’t making up ground that I was losing. Then last month I fell and broke my upper left arm. This has illustrated how much I do with my non-dominant left hand. The pain has also made it impossible to drive, lift or do much of anything. I’m fortunate to have a patient, kind, loving husband to help me.
I’ve fallen more in the last six years than in my whole life. This trend is forcing us to consider moving to a one level house despite how much we love our two story with sunken lounge home. We’ve even talked about moving back to the USA to be close to my sisters, nieces and nephews. So, life has been full of upheaval recently.
I wonder how many of us struggle with multiple significant changes in a short amount of time. I wonder how we manage emotionally and physically when our bodies and abilities change. It feels exhausting to have to keep working to take care of ourselves through exercise, socialising, food choices, and doctor appointments.
I’ve narrowed my coping skills down to a few things. First, I often remind myself that tomorrow is a new day and I’ll feel differently, usually better. Second, I tell myself to do just one thing every day to feel like I’m accomplishing something, even if it is a small thing.
Finally, I am gentle with myself for not doing more. I’m my own worst judge because I’ve always been able to push myself and keep up with my own ambition and resolve. Now that I can’t do that anymore, I have to remind myself that I’m more than what I do. I can be valuable for who I am rather than what people see me do.
Kia kaha. Stay strong out there. Better days are coming.