I love my sleep, don’t you? But when we don’t get enough of it it’s really no fun. And it seems the more you think about the sleep you’re not getting, the less you get! Lucky for my loved ones I’m not a cranky-pants when I haven’t caught enough zz’s! Case in point – my recent trip to hospital.
I reckon I’ve earned some stripes and lucky for me I really don’t get anxious about any impending trips to “Le Hotel de Wesley”. But being a bit of a “frequent flyer” there are a few things that I look forward to. One being warmed blankets in the holding bay before going to theatre, and a bed that moves at the push of a button. Some I don’t look forward to – fasting, pain, & bowel preps to name a few! But being allergic to much of the good-stuff (pain-killers) my biggest post-op issue is pain-management – and as a result, lack of sleep.
Have you ever tried to nod off when simply everything seems to be hurting?
Not easy – trust me! Add to that hourly obs, a drip (the result of which is a bladder that requires trips to the loo at a rate faster than that Usaine Bolt guy can run 100m), dragging your sorry butt, and that damn drip trolley, to said loo every 5 mins (and flailing around in the dark trying to plug it back into the power outlet). All of this while you’re in pain and (irrationally of course ) fearing that every step you take will pop every well-sewn stitch your long-suffering docs used to secure your remaining innards! But I digress, as I often do. Forgive me. Clearly I needed a little “download” there! I actually started this blog wanting to ask this question:
“So what’s your style when you’re not feelin’ too flash?”
How do you cope with pain, lack of sleep, illness, stress, over-load, or when you’re just feeling like crap? Do you down-tools curled up in the foetal position, thumb in mouth rocking back and forth chanting “I’m in a safe place. I’m in a safe place”? Do you go into denial saying “I’m fine” when it’s clear to all and sundry that you’re everything but? Perhaps you get in a “fouly” (my term for a really, really bad mood) and take it out on everyone near and dear? Go on – admit it! Do you? I know two young people who shall remain nameless who do that. Hint: They live with me! (I’ve been told they grow out of this? God, I hope so!). Or perhaps you crack sick jokes about “taboo” subjects such as toileting, pooh, bums, and other bodily functions that some people would prefer to have us believe they never partake in?! Maybe you’re a talker, downloading with anyone you think may care? Maybe you share appropriately with a friend, loved one or counsellor? Or perhaps less appropriately with another type of friend (in the shape of a bottle)? Or maybe you stay on such an even keel, no one except the telepathic would have a clue anything is wrong or has recently changed for you?
No matter how you handle stress, we all do so with our own unique style.
I handle my own stress in my own quirky/individual way. I use a number of available tools and I am proud to say that most of the time, my style has worked quite well for me. Of course it really depends on what the problem is. Loss and grief is whole other beast that we all deal with in our own way/time – but for ongoing or chronic moderate stress I like to think/hope that we can all look for ways to help ourselves cope.
I feel like crap most of the time and that’s something I can’t control. But the control freak in me can choose to work harder on the part of me that I do have some say over – I work harder to LOOK WELL. (Just ask my docs/family! The first thing I do when I become coherent/wake up from an anaesthetic is ask for my lippy and concealer!). I also try to make others laugh either with or at me – (doesn’t really matter which!) in the hope that I too will see the funnier side of things myself. In fact, before I “go under” I’m well-known for cracking my sickest jokes to the surgeon. And when the doc does his rounds I’ve been known to test him, to see if he remembers my little pearls of pre-anaesthetic wisdom! I like to give them a hard time (in the nicest possible way, of course!) regardless of the level of pain I am in, because it makes me feel more like “me”.
Yep, I’m a talker. But I’m also a pretty fine listener (even if I do say so myself). I really do believe that “sharing is caring” and simply talking about my problems gets them out of my own mind (and my own skewed “self-talk”) and into a more balanced perspective. I do believe that in all ways a problem shared is a problem halved. So, after applying all of the above methods to my own situation I then try to work on what I see as the best possible way to make myself feel better. So, at the risk of repeating myself and driving you all mad, I’ll say it again:
“The best way to make yourself feel good is to make someone else feel even better”
Some of my readers may remember an article I wrote some 5 years back after a run-in with a flight of stairs put me in hospital for 3 weeks. I wrote about the power that we ALL have to help someone else feel better. How a genuine compliment, a seemingly small gesture, or a random act of kindness can make someone’s day. And how even if you’re feeling quite helpless yourself you still have more power than you realise to make others feel good. That in itself goes a long way towards your own healing and how you cope with your own crap. And this last hospital visit I found myself in familiar territory with my own style of coping. Even though the lovely docs and nurses had tried all they could to help ease my pain, and even though I’m sure they wanted to slap me at times as I did my “dying swan” impersonations, I decided to reach for my usual tools of distraction:
I would look at other (far sicker than me) patients as they hobbled past my door, and smile at them and thank God I wasn’t anywhere near as sick as them. I would look for positives about all of those I came in contact with – and I would tell them! If I like their outfit, I say so. If I think their hair looks good, I say so! If they were exceptionally sensitive, patient or gentle when jabbing me, I would tell them/thank them! Basically, that’s just my style. I’m certainly no saint. It’s just how I choose to shift my focus off myself and my own pain. That’s how I steal back some of my personal power at a time when I’m feeling quite painful to others or quite helpless in general. And I gotta say this (even if I do say so myself again!) – I’m good at helping others feel/look good and I really do feel better myself every time I do it. Works for me! What works for you?