Priorities for Healing

I have not posted in quite a while. The past few months have been challenging, but before I share some of the craziness, this is how I chose to focus on my priorities for healing. It is so easy to let your own health take a backseat when there is chaos around you… especially if you are a natural caretaker like me.

A close family member had an anaphylactic episode for the first time. She has the same diagnoses as me, but our trauma center was not familiar with it and did not believe her. She ended up in ICU and I had to be there every day to manage her care with the assistance of our mast cell specialist.

Then, I had an episode of anaphylaxis… that scary throat closing kind. My typical had been more cardiac with low blood pressure and low heart rate previously.

Next came several weeks of crazy low heart rates in the 30’s and 40’s, causing me to be short of breath, lightheaded and unable to stand for more than a few minutes.

Then my husband, Brian, had a freak accident. He fell on some unmarked liquid on the floor of a hospital he was visiting for work. He fractured his lower leg in two places, requiring a long leg cast, no weight bearing and minimal activity to prevent surgery.

Lastly, I celebrated my 60th birthday. I had told Brian two years earlier, as I lay in ICU after an anaphylactic episode, that if I was still alive at 60, I wanted a birthday party. This is significant because I had had so many back to back anaphylactic episodes that my physicians were unable to control, that I was not sure I’d still be here. Plus, I am an introvert and dislike parties. I had never had a birthday party. Brian’s leg mishap occurred right before my party, so my kids and I had to do all of the work. My kids each live 30 minutes and 40 minutes away, so I tried to take the bulk of the responsibility.

Here is what I have learned…
1. I cannot care for everyone else and leave myself to last. Hard lesson for me, the forever nurse.
2. I focused on the things that support my health, both physical and emotional. I cooked food to nourish me, meditated more each day, journaled my feelings and gratitude and let go of non-essentials (like my blog and cleaning).
3. I did more of the things that bring me joy. I fed and watched my birds, pet my loving pet, Buddy, colored in my many adult coloring books and spent time with my kids. They are not really kids at 29 and 35 but they will always be my kids.
4. No guilt allowed, over anything. I did the best I could do, with a heart rate that was so low, I wondered how it was sending enough blood to all of my organs.
5. Because I have such difficulty sleeping, I did not focus on the number of hours I slept (or did not sleep). I went to bed each night with the intention to let my body rest, to meditate and listen to soft music with my earbuds. No stress.
So… my family member survived the anaphylaxis despite the hospital. I survived my anaphylaxis well too. My heart rate is still way too low and my cardiologist is discussing pacemaker with my other specialists. Brian is doing much better. He is now in a short leg cast after 6 weeks in that uncomfortable long leg one. He still has a long way to go, but he’s more independent now, so I can have a bit more time for me. And my birthday party was wonderful! I saw family members that I had not seen in almost a year and couple of close friends who are near and dear to me.

Life is good. Remember to make YOU a priority for healing.IMG_4127


How Is Your Sleep?

I’ve not been the best sleeper. My mom said I used to walk through the house in the middle of the night when I was little and scare her. Apparently, I knew better than to wake her for no reason, so I would just stand along side her bed and watch her sleep. She would come into a light sleep and be aware someone was there and scream. You’d think after doing that once or twice, I’d just stay in my own room, but I liked walking around.

Fast forward to today. I still have difficulty sleeping, but at least now I know why. This crazy mast cell disease that I have releases multiple chemicals in the middle of the night into my blood stream. They are not conducive to sleep. I also have dislocating joints while I sleep. So while the physicians work on managing these chemical-spewing cells, I follow a very specific night time ritual to prepare my mind and body for sleep.

Before I share my ritual with you, in case you’re a night time zombie too, here are some amazing statistics from an infographic in Mindful magazine:

  1. According to a Harvard Medical School study, $63 billion is lost annually in productivity due to loss of sleep
  2. Just one extra hour of sleep can do more for your happiness than a 200% increase in salary (Science)
  3. 79% of the women surveyed would rather get a good night’s sleep than have sex (The Better Sleep Council)
  4. Pilots who were allowed to take a 40-45 minute nap before a flight simulation had a 34% performance improvement (NASA)

These are some crazy statistics. And for my clients, lack of sleep affect’s their eating. Studies have shown that we crave more comfort food and sweets when we are tired. Do you grab an apple when you are sleep deprived? Or do you want those cookies or maybe the macaroni and cheese? Bottom line is that not getting adequate sleep has less than healthy effects.

So here is my nightly ritual: I begin dimming the lights about 2 hours (or more) before bed. Melatonin, our sleep hormone is affected by light. Remember this… bright in the morning, dim in the evening. No electronics at all at least an hour before bed. That includes smart phone, lap top, TV (although I don’t watch TV), tablet, kindle, etc. The blue light from these disrupts the melatonin too. Then I take my medication and supplements, brush my teeth and climb into my very comfy bed. I write in my “What Went Well” journal. This is a special journal I learned from a gratitude app. I write down 3 things that went well during that day. Some days are tougher than others to come up with 3, but it sets my mind for peaceful sleep. Then I read for about 30 minutes, sometimes less if I get sleepy. Nothing too stimulating like a mystery or suspense, Often, it’s a magazine or positive/spiritual book. Lastly, I end my day with a few minutes of meditation. I follow this exact ritual every night. It sets my mind/body ready for peaceful Zzzzzzz’s. Of course, I can’t forget kissing my honey good night! Although he travels a lot, so it’s part of my ritual when he’s in town. Do you have difficulty sleeping? sleeping