Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Today a pretty obvious theme of my adult life was pointed out to me - obvious yet I seem to be oblivious. I look for validation for almost every decision I make and I look for it in other people. My most frequent source of advice is my mother - she is a wise woman with her head on straight, her heart right with God, and enough common sense - well, I just wouldn't ask anyone else. I also have a handful of friends that I can count on for excellent advice - knowing they won't lie to me and in fact will set me straight if I need it.
Yet, I'm not just looking for advice - I'm looking for them to validate my own decisions. I said to my friend today, "I don't have my own set of standards". It's an interesting thought - what are my own standards? what is my level of excellence I strive for? do I even know?
I am constantly and consistently searching and striving to meet the standards of others. To please them. I worry about disappointing them, appearing weak, making a "dumb" decision. It can be what I'm wearing, where I'm going, even how I'm feeling. If I am afraid, anxious, nervous, happy, excited, etc - I even look to find validation for those feelings in other too. Explaining my reasons why I feel like I do and looking for them to nod in acceptance.
I was raised to be self-confident and I think I have good self-esteem. So what am I looking for? Why am I searching for it in others? I think this is potentially yet another consequence of being lonely - living alone is hard. There's no one here to discuss the daily deals that go on so when a decision has to be made or anything feels out of the normal - I look for someone to guide me along but also validate me.
This all came about this afternoon - I'm struggling with some kind of stomach bug or maybe something I ate that's just not sitting well. Been having pain, bloating, and indigestion for about 24 hours now. Very frustrating because I'm waiting to see if this will just pass or if it's truly a stomach bug that could get worse before it gets better. I had to decide whether to go to school - I talked to my Mom, I talked to a friend - I then realized I had no idea what I wanted. What would be best for me? Did I know? Did I even bother to care? I was worried about what others would think. In hindsight, I'm glad I stayed home. I knew this wasn't just a nervous belly - my stomach is hurting something fierce and clearly I'm not 100% right now - I need to be home, quiet, and taking care of myself. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be much much better!
Luckily I am off tomorrow so I have another day to rest at home before I work Thurs and Friday and then clinicals Saturday. Thank goodness this semester is winding down because I desperately need a break!!! I'm overdoing it - working in one ER, clinicals in another ER, school work, and then general life - it's too much. I want this NP degree and I will get it - but it's taking a real toll on me - body, mind, spirit, soul.
Looks like I need to decide my own standards, my own level of expertise I strive for - and really I need to not care so much whether or not I meet the standards of those around me. If it's right in my heart, it's right for me!
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Well, it's been some 12 days of this virus and I'm definitely still not 100% better but it's a lot of progress in the past couple days. Still having some coughing, some wheezing, and some congestion - but it's getting better slowly but surely.
I've had some time to think about my current "balance" - I've had a lot of time since any time not spent trying to get through work or clinicals is pretty much idle on the couch trying not to hack up a lung. Somehow this winter semester I need to find a much better balance of health, physical activity, nutrition, and stress reduction/control.
So my nutrition is pretty good. I need a bit more variety to it though. The complete gluten free style is definitely agreeing with me. Trying to avoid the majority of preservatives and additives is no easy task but is becoming easier. I'd like to learn some new recipes that are "whole" foods and clean eating. A girl can only eat chicken vegetable soup and spinach salads for so long.... I'd like to get a bit more away from pop. I still find my blood sugar feels like a "drop" mid afternoon even if my calories are good. But I also find that feeling when I'm stressed or fatigue and I've trained myself that a cold, sugary beverage "helps". I need to deviate away from that.
My physical activity was much improved until I go "busy". Then I made excuses. If I worked, I didn't work out. If I did a clinical shift, I didn't work out. I have to remember that the level of activity required for working is what my body is used to. I'm not going to get the happy hormones or benefits from it. I got my gym membership, now I have to use it! Obviously not right now while I'm having problems breathing but once this is passed - no excuses, get my ass to the gym at least 3x per week!! And although it's bitter cold already, a quick walk outside always does the body good.
My stress level is really a tough one. I'm seeing a counselor/therapist and that's helpful. I'm doing a lot of self-help reading which is good too. A mix of Christian books and psych books like Joyce Meyer's Be Anxious for Nothing and then a psychiatrist's book The Chemistry of Calm. It's about balance. About learning my triggers. About not having fight-or-flight when it is absolutely unnecessary. I'm learning a lot about the impact of nutrition, exercise, herbal supplementation, and relaxation techniques and I want to keep applying those appropriately and accurately for the best results.
My hormones are still a bit out of whack. I've been flushed and having cramps for a good 2 weeks. I think my Depo wore off sooner than expected. I might need to consider doing it a bit earlier. I take it for progesterone level control - not birth control. I don't like using such a brutal chemical in my body but the hormones are one thing I have yet to learn how to regulate normally. I tried this summer with bio-identical hormone therapy but that landed me in a state of utter depression, panic, anxiety, and a hot mess. So for now, it's the answer. But I think with improved diet, activity, and balance - not to mention weight loss - i might be able to turn this around too. I pray so!!
I have lost 20lbs now since the summer. It really makes me feel good. My clothes look good on me. My body is happy with me. I just want to keep up the momentum. But it's not all about one thing - it's still about balance. I still have to contend with school for the next 8 1/2 months. I need to keep working while I do class and clinicals. I still need a life of some type. I'd like to see my friends and family more without being utterly exhausted. There's lots of "me-work" left to be done and I have complete intention to keep at it. There's no excuses - well, no good ones anyways! Even when I'm sick, there's places I can be tweaking, adjusting, and re-balancing. Hoping to create the ultimate balance and the ultimate level of health!
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Been sick for 8 days now. Started as a sore throat, aches, then sinus congestion, now cough. Triggering my asthma too. Had to postpone my midterm, cancel 3 clinical shifts, haven't made it to the gym for sure, and just generally frustrated!
I started reading a new book, The Chemistry of Calm. I'm only a little into it but it seems really good. My counselor recommended it to me since I'm not interested in taking many medications for my anxiety. This psychiatrist explains the easy steps it takes to start turning your own chemistry around using nutrition, exercise, mental, and physical healing. I am finding it very interesting and right in-line with my way of thinking. Anxiety is an over-whelming response to normal stressors - if it's an 'imbalance' then it can be rebalanced!
This time "off" being sick has given me the realization that our society no longer allows you to be sick for 7-10 days. To "go to your sick bed" and get better. Your doctor tells you to "rest" but we interpret that as maybe trying not too work quite as hard as usual? We wonder why, then, we can't get better fast? I know when I pushed and worked an 8 hour shift in the ER on Wednesday, I not only felt worse, but I'm pretty sure I lost ground. I talked to a midnight nurse today, found out several of them are sick, yet because there's no sick-coverage, no one is going home. We're working through the worst illnesses and then we complain we aren't getting better. Hello - do you not see the definition of insanity here.....
So here I sit. Working on my Christmas list. Looking at gifts to buy other people. Thinking about trying to remember all the material for my midterm I studied for last Tuesday and now have to remember for this Tuesday. Aye! Guess I'll just keep sipping my fluids, eating good food, and trying to stay on top of anything healthy I can that's possible. As tempting as it is to sit here and eat junk food (not saying I might not have possibly enjoyed a few super clearance halloween candy). But I did make a huge crock pot of chicken soup that should have some curative properties!!
Hope everyone is having a good weekend!!
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
It had officially been about a month of my intensive diet plan. Basically, in a nutshell, it's a power smoothie to replace one meal per day (usually an on-the-go meal, either breakfast before early work or dinner before early clinicals), then there's the spinach salad with chicken breast or hard-boiled egg, and then dinner kinda random depending on what I have but always home-made something. Snacks are greek yogurt, apples with natural peanut butter, and grapes. I thought I'd get bored with the consistency but instead I found it liberating. I always knew what I had to eat, always knew it would sit well in my stomach, always knew I'd have fuel for my day! I did enjoy a vernors here and there or a little piece of dark chocolate. I cut my coffee to 1 or less cups per day and it's often 1/2 caff. I'm drinking my water and staying away from anything prepackaged/processed unless I truly know what's in it.
People have been noticing!! At first it was hard to decline all the eating out offers. I'm an ER nurse - we order out A LOT! But eventually it became habit. I didn't eat the homemade breads/cookies/brownies and other assorted items sitting on the counters. I began to realize if I was hungry and driving, instead of thinking what "sounded" good, I began to think "what am I at risk for if I order ______". It's a whole new way of thinking and it really didn't take that long to make the habit.
Then last week I was missing my friends something fierce. It's hard to be in school, clinicals, and working and still manage to have some resemblance of a social life. So I did eat out a few times - but I chose very carefully and was able to escape all 3 restaurants without stomachache or side-effects! My biggest challenge with the restaurants was that hot loaf of fresh bread at Outback - oh man. I decided "just one piece". Interestingly enough, I haven't eaten bread in so long now (gluten free) that it actually didn't taste good - in fact, it tasted odd. 2 bites of that and I was over it! I used to be able to devour loaves and loaves of that stuff!!!
Wednesday afternoon I carved pumpkins (which I hadn't done in years) and had a blast! Thursday was a long 12 hour shift in the ER. Friday morning I was to meet a friend for breakfast. I woke up with neck and right sided chest pain. During breakfast, I actually had a hard time breathing. But, with time, it moved out of my chest and really into my right neck, shoulder, and then numbness into my right arm and fingers. I knew I had "done" something to the base of my neck (I didn't realize, as I write this almost a week later, it would still be here!). That was hard because it put a total stop to my workouts. I did do some stretching and basic yoga but it was all far too painful. Was it the lugging of giant pumpkins? Was it carrying the 7 year old with the badly broken leg? Was it my attempt at yoga for the first time in a long time? Yep, not sure, but I definitely did something!!
The weekend was filled with clinical hours - it's high stress and highly draining but I do love every moment and I'm learning so much. I fight anxiety regularly but my coping mechanisms are working better and better! Neck still hurt but what can you do?
Monday morning was an early appt with my doctor for a physical. She was impressed, to say the least. She had seen me in June and recorded so many of my difficulties with headaches, stomach problems, weight gain, etc. She couldn't believe how many of these things had resolved with just diet changes! No more pain in my stomach, no more bloating, only 1 migraine this season change (last year they went on forever!) - she was pretty amazed. Plus the weight loss was significant. So I'm still waiting for my lab results but I'm hoping there's been good improvements!! She wasn't thrilled with my need for Xanax to help me out this semester but after hearing all the positive changes, seeing a counselor, taking the Holy Basil (which has helped decrease my Xanax needs), and frankly hearing how hectic my schedule is - she was ok with it.
Then I kinda started slumping. That afternoon I got drained of all my energy. My face and chest were beat red, I was running a low grade fever, ached everywhere. I tried to nap but couldn't - I just wanted to lay there. Then I found out my Mom was super sick and was worried about her too. It was kinda like my "high" just disappeared and all the work I'd been doing hit me like a ton of bricks. I spent Monday afternoon through to Tuesday night pretty much doing nothing but simple household tidying, homework, and watching tv. I'm not proud - in fact I feel guilty. Yet, if I keep fueling and treating my body well - if it screams at me like that, makes me feel completely and utterly exhausted - should I not listen to it?
There's a balance I'm still trying to obtain. One of pushing through the hard times but knowing when it's ok to say "whoa!!" and hold back some. It seems a waste to just "sit" but then again, if I didn't, could I potentially be very sick today instead of markedly improved (with the exception of this darn neck pain!)?
I don't want to feel weak. Yet a friend told me yesterday, it's ok because it makes us human - just don't make "skipping" things (like class last night) too easy or it becomes a pattern. And she was right - I needed to just be home - I needed to just take 48 hours to shut up, stop taking care of everyone else, and be quiet. I was also worried about my Mom and felt like I needed to be available in case she needed me.
As I laid in bed I was journaling and realized something pretty big about fear. Fear can paralyze. I honestly wonder how much of the past 2 days has been paralysis from fears? Pure exhaustion, fatigue, lack of motivation - all physiological symptoms of fear. I tend to worry and fear so much - most of which has little significance realistically and almost none of which actually happens. With as busy as I am, if that fear takes over in my mind, it really does bring everything to a halt. I run out of resources - no power smoothie can keep up with all the worries, fears, and regular physical demands of my life.
There's a balance to be obtained here. A lesson to be learned. I'll talk it out with my counselor today - she tends to have really good insight into this. But I think the biggest thing I need to do is allow myself a "break" - but then break time is over. Otherwise I fall into a slump and it's a LOT harder to get out of it.
I wish everyone a happy "hump" day and rest of your week! Mine goes into overdrive now as I prep for 12 hour shifts Thursday and Friday and clinical hours Sunday and Monday. But I'll have my consistent foods and I'll have my plan to cope with the stress and I'll pray my neck gets better. I know God's going to help me get through this - I just have to remember to keep asking :)
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