In the beginning of June, I went to DC to visit one of my aunts. It was a great weekend spent shopping, eating some good food, and spending time with my family. Prior to my departure, I did notice some slight pain in my upper back and neck but thought I had slept in a weird position. As the weekend continued, the pain in my body became worse spreading to my mid back. By the time I returned home, the pain had spread to my right shoulder, my low back, and the right side of my abdomen. It was so severe that I was unable to sleep, and it eventually worsened to the point that I could not take a deep breath.
After debating if I should go to the hospital or not, a friend convinced me that the pain I was feeling was not normal and I needed to go to the ER. After spending over 12 hours in the emergency room and having multiple tests done, I found out that I had double pneumonia. This lung infection was causing my shortness of breath and the pain in my body. I was given antibiotics and sent home and told to take off work for the rest of the week.
As I sat in my apartment, without anything to do but rest, I found myself feeling very restless. Here I was actively fighting a lung infection and all I could think about was the million and 1 things that I needed to do, the over 200 emails in my inbox, and my growing to-do list. And that’s when I realized, I have a problem resting.
Now anyone who knows me, might say yes, I could have told you this. I have several jobs; I do try to remain active by going to different events and creating space for myself to learn and grow. But now my body was telling me that the only thing I needed to do was rest. There were no deadlines to meet, stories to write, thoughts to organize; my only purpose in this moment was to heal and be still. It’s been a little over a month since I had to go to the hospital, and I’ve learned three very important lessons:
- Every breath that we take is a gift: We take our bodies and our health for granted until we are sick, but tomorrow is promised to no one and our very breath is a reminder to us that we are alive! That there is still a purpose to our lives here on earth.
- Listen to your body: Our bodies communicate with us all day, every day if only we will stop to listen. And often it isn’t until our bodies are screaming at us that we finally pay attention. I am grateful for the wisdom of my friend and grateful that I didn’t try and wait out the pain. Persistent pain is usually always a sign that something is wrong, please don’t wait in hopes that it will go away.
- That we deserve to rest: I never thought of myself as someone who couldn’t rest, but I can’t tell you the last time I took off an entire week from work. I never realized how much worth and emphasis I put on my job/s. And yes, these jobs provide my livelihood, but there must be more to life than work. My worth is not tied to my productivity.
It’s been over 6 weeks since I went to the hospital, and I’ve been taking the time to really sit and work through where this inability to rest comes from. I have a few ideas, but I can see that for me to grow in this season I have to learn to be still. That when I rest, I am still being active by allowing my body the opportunity to do what it was created to do, which is just be. We are more creative when we are rested. We are kinder, more generous, more patient, healthier; we’re better humans. This week, I will celebrate my 34th birthday and one of my goals for this next year of life is to do less and to not feel guilty about it. I wish you all a restful week ahead!!