As some of you already know, my doctor and I made a decision that I need to lighten my load of activities and take better care of my respiratory system. To elaborate, in addition to just sheer emotional impact, the two last year's surgeries apparently put a damper on my immune system. Refusing to acknowledge that I was human (pshaw!), I did my darndest to bounce back as quickly as I could. I was back to work two days after each of the surgeries and back on the mats at the dojo - a month after.
While I may have thought it fine and dandy and matter of course, my organism decided to disagree. After the second surgery in October of last year I got sick, on average, every three-four weeks. And my respiratory being my weakest area since I was born, that is where all the infectious crud ended up landing. Flu, cold, sinus infection, another cold, another flu - that one culminating in a nearly month-long bout of bronchitis. Seasonal allergies came on the heels of the last antibiotic I took for bronchitis, putting me at risk of another sinus infection. That was when time came to go in for my annual physical...
After last year, most of the doctors' concerns were focused around my heart (not being able to process folic acid has a side effect of heart disease - oops...) However, this time around, the heart checked out just fine. My lungs and everything attached to them, however - that was another story. They were a mush of damaged tissue, never allowed to heal properly because I felt I had to get back from zero to going 100 mph in three seconds. There were so many drugs in my system, that we had to postpone blood work till next fall.
There is no complicated Latin name for "trying to bounce back too quickly" - but that, essentially, what my diagnosis was. The next three months were to be spent moving at a moderate pace (walking as exercise is fine, moderate weight lifting), with no running, jumping, falling, kicking, yelling, or stressing. Was it hard to suck it up and take a three-month leave from aikido? Yes. Abso-damn-lutely. Was it equally hard to realize that I was missing training due to endless fevers, coughing fits and infections - and would continue to do so if I didn't slow down now? Yes.
- Just because you think your body is ready to get back into action after a traumatic experience, doesn't mean it actually is ready.
- Allowing yourself to recover is not weak, lazy or selfish - it is smart. Just like a well-maintained car, a well-maintained body treated in a considerate fashion will serve you longer and better.
- Pretending that you can recover from trauma like a 15-year-old when you are, in fact, 35 is stupid.
- It's one thing to pick up an occasional cold. It's another thing when your body keeps telling you again, and again, and again, "Stop running - I can't keep up anymore!" - and you keep ignoring it.
- Taking a sick day does not equal taking an opportunity to clean your entire house. Laundry can wait. Ironing can wait. Book sorting can wait. But your heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and other body parts can't.
- Be nice to yourself - you'll thank yourself 30, 40, maybe even 50 years from now. You want to live to be a spry centogenerian? Take some steps now to achieve that goal.