Look after #1
Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the South West Ladies Lunch which is really another name for a lunch attended by 300 odd female dairy farmers and an excuse to drink champers. Not enough champers, but it was on offer. Milkshakes too if you wanted! This is only the second one I have attended although they have been going for about 5 years or so (probably longer in some different guises).
The presenter at this year’s event was non other than Dr Sally Cockburn (pron. Coh-burn, not Cock-burn), or better known as Dr Sally Feelgood. Sally was entertaining and funny and insightful and truthful and talked bout things that most dairy women – and dare I say, women in general – don’t want to address. That they put themselves last. Nearly always.
She put up a slide of one of those talented Chinese performers that can keep all those plates spinning on chopsticks and not let any of them fall. She likened a lot of womens lives to that picture. That we are madly keeping all the plates spinning (or the balls in the air) and feeling like it needs to be US that keeps them going, that we let the really important person in our lives down. Ourselves.
I really hadn’t thought of it in that way before. It sort of hit me like a ton of bricks really and it is such a stupidly simple concept that inside me, I was a bit upset with myself that I had let me down.
Last week, I suffered some major nerve impingement whilst at my second (or is that third or fourth??) job. I was in the water teaching kids to swim and it was right at the end of class when I moved a particular way and BAM! EXCRUCIATING pain in the forms of pins and needles and numbness right down both arms and legs. A trip to A&E and a rushed CT scan showed a distinct narrowing of some vertebrae in my neck. A rushed MRI shows that there is something wrong with one of the discs as it is bending my spinal cord into the shape of a banana! Pain killers, muscle relaxants, anti inflams were all prescribed and taken duly (because I was in so much pain). But you know what? For months…and I mean MONTHS….I had been getting around with non painful electric shocks down arms and legs. But I did nothing about them. I did trapse off to an osteopathy guy here in our town and some improvement in extremely stiff muscles was noted, but the pins and needles remained.
How long would I have ignored them for had I not been forced to end up in casualty last Thursday night? And why?
Because I am one of those people that keeps all the plates spinning. I am the one that organises the household (not very well mind you), makes sure the there are clean clothes, food in the pantry, meals on the table, costumes to wear to book week, appointments to keep, ferrying kids to sports, washing, dishes, housework, doing bookwork, doing swimming teaching, running a card making business……on and on. And looking after EVERYBODY before me.
As I sit here typing this, I have stopped the pain meds. Because in a household that contains a 4yo that is into everything, being dopey on drugs is not a great choice. So I put up with the pain. And life needs to go on. Kids need to be taught to swim, my own family needs to be fed and bathed and clothed and loved. And I can’t do it on pain meds all the time.
But if there was one thing that I took away from yesterday, is that it is ok to ask for help and it is ok to admit defeat. I don’t think enough of us do it until too late. Much too late for some.