We tend to set expectations for ourselves that are beyond human capacity.
We live in a society that is constantly encouraging us to keep pushing, keep doing, and keep going. Burnout, exhaustion can be worn as a badge of honour. But, it can also wreak havoc on our immune systems.
Less than 2 years ago, a friend asked how I was, my response – “I’m good”. In reality, I was caught in a stress cycle. I was emotionally and physically exhausted. But, I kept myself busy tucking away the feelings and emotions I didn’t want to bring to the surface.
In the Summer of 2019, my partner and I decided to renovate our main bathroom. The day we started the renovation, my husband’s surgeon called to let him know his open heart surgery would be in two weeks. We knew this call would be coming, a year prior he went to the Dr. for a sore throat and fever, they noticed irregular heart rhythms and we found he had a hole in his heart the size of a loonie, that needed to be closed. His sore throat quickly went away.
We finished the bathroom, the night before we left for Toronto, 250 km away from home. We were exhausted, and a little scared, but kept our calm – for our kids. We are grateful for the team of Dr.’s, nurses, family and our entire support system that loved on our kids, our pets, our home and us during the 10 days stay in hospital. I thought I was doing ok until we got home.
As it turns out, I was not ok.
Even with my yoga and mindfulness practice, I was facing a myriad of stressors and I wasn’t listening to my body, my mind, my soul. I was so asleep, that it took a wasp sting to wake me up.
Within 10 minutes of getting stung, my entire body was covered in itchy blisters, my brain and ears felt like fire…and then came the tongue swelling, so bad my speech was slurred. I still managed to calmly pick up my family on their walk, and drive myself into the pharmacy. During the 10 minute drive into town, my heart felt like it was going to explode, and my breathing was very rapid. I felt like I was struggling for air, yet I knew my breath would keep me present. I decided to walk into My Dr’s office instead of the pharmacy, where I knew I could get help.
My Dr. and team of nurses pumped me full of things. And I remember telling him I ‘didn’t have time to go to the hospital by ambulance,’ and that I was incredibly sorry for interrupting their lunch break. He had just seen my husband the day prior, he knew the stress we were under. He made a deal with me – 15 minutes and then he would decide. I remember saying in my head “just breathe and stay present!” I was not scared. I couldn’t afford to be scared.
I walked out of my Dr’s office 2 hours later with a couple of epi-pens, a bottle of Benadryl and strict instructions to monitor myself with a promise to call 911 if the hives return.
My point in this story is that I was able to use my mindfulness & breathing practices to calm myself down enough to prevent a full-blown panic attack and drive to where I could get help and keep my family calm.
This is your reminder that mindfulness, self-care, self-regulation is medicine.
It is pure magic. Medicine. And when it is a part of your daily practice, you have it as a tool in the back of your mind that you can pull out in an instant. Self-Regulation keeps us grounded and resilient from the huge waves in life.
I’ll always carry an epi-pen, and I soon get to start venom intravenous therapy to reduce the anaphylactic reactions. I’ll continue to travel and live but plan my travels according to nearby medical care.
Can someone please tell me the purpose of the wasps?