This year – 2022 – has been a blur for Jim and me due to Covid-19. It’s how we celebrated Christmas and it’s how we welcomed the new year, too; isolated and sick. I began to improve but Jim declined.
In early January, Jim ended up in the emergency room, then in Intensive Care, critically ill with Covid pneumonia. I was forced to contemplate life without Jim; not something I even wanted to consider. I’ve never prayed so hard in my life, and I’m forever thankful for all those who prayed for him. By the grace of God, Jim came home after 22 days in the hospital.
My husband is a walking miracle, but recovery is slow. Post-Covid life is not easy.
Oxygen bottles. Breathing exercises. Pills. Physical Therapy. PCP follow-ups. Steroids. Occupational Therapy. Respiratory Therapy. Off-the-chart blood sugars. Brain fog. Diabetes Education. Cardiologists. Tests. Blood work. Pulmonologists. Breathing difficulties. I could go on and on.
By the time Jim no longer needed home healthcare and oxygen support, I was diagnosed with Covid…yes, again. Thankfully, Jim didn’t get Round 2, but we both still fight post-Covid exhaustion (stamina, strength, and motivation – or the lack thereof).
Like other Americans, we also fight the daily realities of 2022. Inflation. Fuel prices. Grocery costs. Isolation. Electricity rates. Shortages. Covid-varients. Limited social life. Business closings.
Will normal ever return? What is the new normal? No one knows. It’s a one-day-at-a-time life we live. And, that’s okay because my trust is in God, but…it’s still hard! Right?
WARNING: If you are still reading but don’t particularly care about my personal life, you can stop now because this post is the result of much self-reflection and it will likely appear self-centered (though that’s not my intent).
Here’s the deal. God has been trying to get my attention lately. He does so in creative, non-traditional ways – I guess it’s because I’m creative and non-traditional. I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching to try to figure out what He’s trying to ‘say’ to me. I think I’ve got it now, but it took a backward glance to do so.
People – especially writers – often choose a life word for every year. Well, I didn’t in 2022 because of Covid, but I think God chose my word for me, and it’s PIVOT!
We encounter difficulties and we pivot.
We’re blindsided by someone and we pivot.
We don’t like where we are in our careers and we pivot.
To pivot is to change direction and it’s usually a good thing though it can be difficult. Only strong-willed, determined individuals actually pivot because life in the same rut is much easier.
It’s my nature to care for others; sometimes to a fault! I’m quite experienced at it, and always glad to do whatever I can to help almost anyone! But, in the process, this caregiver nearly slipped through the cracks. I forgot how to care for myself.
But, God has been nudging me with baby steps – see below. It certainly wasn’t an intentional effort on my part. I don’t think I could have (or would have) pivoted on my own. So now – in the middle of 2022 – I’m pivoting, unexpectedly!
1. A few years ago, I was super stressed (end-of-life caregiving for my mom) and experienced awful muscle spasms until a friend introduced deep tissue massage therapy. OMGoodness, what blessed relief! Fast forward to 2022. The tightness in my neck and across my shoulders has returned. It kept me awake at night, so I scheduled a massage. I asked the therapist to be firm and she was! She found every single tight muscle (and left only bruises). It hurt so bad, as they say! I’m thankful God nudged me to make that appointment; and I’m contemplating a follow-up.
2. It’s been a while since I’ve had new glasses. My new prescription hasn’t changed significantly, so I got by with what I had until my lenses were so blurry (just wear and tear) I could hardly focus. One day I decided to shop for some frames. It sure is nice to see again, and I have funky teal glasses, too. I should have done this months ago.
3. My hair has always been thin (and fine). Having Covid twice this year didn’t help, as my hairbrush is always full of hair that’s rapidly evacuating from my scalp. I finally decided to cut off the mess. Ten inches – gone! I love my new cut! While I was at the salon, I got waxed – just my eyebrows, mind you! Well, my eyebrows plus those whispy whiskers on my upper lip. I would welcome new hair growth, but no mustache for this gal, please.
4. My feet are seriously abused. I wear shoes ONLY when I have to so my feet are forever calloused and dry. Not long ago, I decided it was time for a pedicure; not something I do often. My feet were soaked in a hot foot bath, all callouses were removed, and my legs were massaged with lavender spa crème before being wrapped in hot moist towels. Ahhh! Next, my cuticles were trimmed and my nails were painted. Pampering at its best (if your feet aren’t ticklish). Plus, colorful toenails make me happy!
5. The next pivot is a journey I’ve been on before. Actually, I’m disgusted with myself to be on it again. Just a week ago, I decided there would be no more sugar, soda, or ice cream for me. Cold turkey! (At least for now. I may never completely give up ice cream – it’s in my blood!) I can definitely live without sugar, sweets, and soda for now. Healthy choices. The bathroom scales are showing a decline, but I’m not in a race. I’m just making daily decisions about what goes into my mouth. It’s not easy, but I’m all in.
6. I was preparing to speak at a recent conference when – at breakfast – a piece of bacon broke off a piece of my tooth. Yikes! It caused no pain, thankfully, so it was easily ignored until it got infected. I had been ignoring a previously cracked tooth, too, so now I had two reasons to visit the dreaded dentist. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dentist and he’s totally gained my trust, but I hate having someone mess around inside my mouth! Well, he took care of the broken tooth and a small cavity in the tooth next door, then extracted the cracked tooth a few days later. I’m a few hundred dollars in debt, but my mouth is better off than it has been. UPDATE: Do dentists normally use jackhammers to get a tooth out? I wish my hair roots were as determined to stay intact! I’m still babying that chasm in my gums.
As you read these six examples, I’m reminded of the chorus Head & Shoulders, Knees & Toes! You’d think I intentionally set out on some self-improvement journey. Muscles. Eyes. Hair. Feet. Teeth. Body. I didn’t. Like I said, God just nudged me here and there with baby steps, but when I look back at the last two months, I see that His nudging – though unrecognizable by me at the time – is almost shocking! I love the cumulative results of this Heaven-sent rehab. It feels good to take care of myself.
But, why do I bare my soul and share all of this with you? I really don’t know.
Perhaps readers will identify with my words. Perhaps someone else is slipping through the cracks. Caregivers are rarely good at self-care. God got my attention and I was determined to figure out what He was trying to tell me. That’s when I realized He had already been prompting me to pivot; to take care of myself. If you find yourself in the same place in the middle of 2022, I pray for a powerful pivot in your future. (And, I covet your prayers as I continue with my own.)
(c) Elaine McAllister 2022 All rights reserved.