Monday, October 11, 2010

Self Care

Most of us who sit in front of a computer all day spend at least a few minutes browsing the headlines on some of the more popular websites (Yahoo, CNN, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, or even some entertainment blogs). Today, I was doing just that when I got a brash reminder of who we have become as a collective culture. We are (for the most part) the people who drag ourselves into work everyday no matter what is going on. Health issues, family crisis, family event be damned. If drama doesn’t have the good sense to occur on a weekend, then it will have to wait in line behind a myriad of conference calls, e-mails, meetings and presentations. Otherwise, there would never be a need to remind people to do basic self care.

I’ll explain. I logged on to Yahoo today to check one of my personal e-mail accounts (and to clean out the daily smattering of spam). While on the home page, I browsed the Today section. After a quick scan, I saw headlines about the death of a “controversial” Miss USA titleholder, cooking with coffee, and a fine imposed on Terrell Owens for tweeting too close to a game. Then I came across “Signs You’re Too Ill for Work.” I clicked on the link thinking I would find a warning to keep your germs to yourself and some common cold prevention tips. Wash your hands, stay away from co-workers who are hacking up a lung without covering their mouths, don’t touch door handles, etc.

Instead I found, stay home if you (i) have a fever over 100 degrees; (ii) are a sneezing, runny-nosed mess (and it’s not allergies); (iii) are vomiting or experiencing diarrhea; (iv) just got a prescription for antibiotics (because it takes 24 hours for them to kick in); or (v) can’t sit, stand, walk or twist. The article ends with a reminder that “taking a day to heal doesn’t make you a slacker! Schlepping to work when you’re truly ill may seem heroic, but resting a day or two can speed your recovery and save you (and your co-workers) lost time in the long run.”

It made me wonder what type of society we live in where we need that sort of reminder. Then I sit back and think of where I was a couple of years ago. Sick…really sick and suffering from a seemingly unending lupus flare. I went to work almost every day. I exposed my co-workers to a withering, hair losing shell of a person all for the sake of being a team player (read: law firm martyr). More importantly, I didn’t give my body the respect it needed to cope. As a result, I got worse and worse until I was bed ridden for a couple of weeks and eventually in a hospital infusion unit. All of that, as you know, didn’t make me a hero or keep me employed in this struggling economy. The new me, the one I have been focusing on for the past year, has a different level of respect for self. The body I have might not be perfect. Admittedly, it is far from it…but it gets me where I need to go and even when it’s in pain, its still ticking and moving me forward through this crazy life. I owe it to my body and to the God that gave it to me to respect it and take care of it when it is breaking down. It took me what seemed like forever to know that taking a day to heal doesn’t make me a slacker. Yet, today, I was glaring at words that reminded me to rest when I am sick. My brain was screaming “DUH!” I guess I finally learned the lesson: This isn’t elementary school. Life is a marathon and perfect attendance isn’t going to get me anything that matters at the end of my life. In fact, all it might do is decrease the distance to the finish line. In the race of life, who really wants to finish quickly when you have the choice of finishing well? Know better? Do better.

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