I have never been the poster child for self-care. I say “yes” to too many things, I don’t say “no” often enough, and I must confess, I haven’t been to a rheumatologist since before I moved back to Michigan from New York. It’s probably been at least eight months.
I had to be on call for work for the first time. It was hell. Starting on a Monday, I was on call from 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m., then on again from 5:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. during the week, just in time to go to work, and the cycle repeated itself. On the weekend, I was on from 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. This was for an entire week. And by the end, I was flaring for the first time in years.
For at least two weeks after, I was on a downward spiral.
Then…I went to Miami for a Pharma event…
Physically and emotionally, I was really in no condition to go. But I didn’t feel like it was appropriate to let the organizers know on Thursday that I wouldn’t be able to attend something that began on Friday. Next time, I will trust my intuition, and cancel, even at the last minute if I have to.
There were a lot of issues, and I didn’t stand up for my needs:
1) I had a very early flight out on Friday morning – meaning that I had to get up at 4:00 a.m. to get to the airport.
2) I was basically only supposed to be in Miami for 36 hours and was supposed to fly back to Michigan on Saturday.
3) The heat and humidity in Miami was terrible. If I wasn’t flaring before the trip – which I definitely was – I was definitely flaring after.
But wait, there’s more…
The gate for my return flight was changed four times. I ran through the airport, which is comical because I cannot run. And literally could not breathe after the first gate change. My flight was delayed for three hours and was ultimately canceled. I spent the night in the Miami airport. I didn’t sleep. I spent six hours standing and waiting in line to attempt to talk to someone from customer service at American Airlines.
I rebooked my flight over the phone, but the options were less than ideal:
1) Wait a full 24 hours and fly out on the same flight I was scheduled for originally, but the next night – No way was I taking a chance of getting stuck in the Miami airport for another night.
2) Leave Miami at 7:00 a.m. Sunday, take a plane to Charlotte than a flight to JFK and then arrive in Detroit at around 4:00 p.m. – I not very calmly explained to the person on the phone that I have lupus and RA and there was absolutely no way that I could navigate multiple airports in the condition I was in, and that was before standing in line for six hours.
3) Leave Miami at 8:00 a.m., fly to Philadelphia with an hour to make the connecting flight, and arrive in Detroit around 1:00 p.m. – I ended up booking this flight, but realized that there was a high likelihood I would miss my connecting flight
Ultimately, I ended up booking a flight Sunday morning on Delta. I had to wait until security opened and then had to walk all the way to another terminal. I was planning on asking for some sort of transportation when I got up to the customer service desk for American Airlines, but that never happened. I had to make the choice, being five people from the front of the line, of waiting in line and taking the risk of missing my Delta flight, or getting out of line to make the trek to the other terminal without ever having talked to anyone from American Airlines.
That Monday, I didn’t go to work. I could barely walk.
I swear, I recovered just in time to take a work trip to Boston.
I’m starting to understand that taking care of myself isn’t always going to be the popular choice or make other people happy. Some people might even feel inconvenienced or disappointed. But if I’m going to be successful at anything in my life, I need to take care of myself, first and foremost.
I’m learning that doing me is more important. This is hard for me because I feel like I have totally fallen off of the blogging and advocacy bandwagon. But after putting my body through so much, I’ve had to try and take it easy as much as possible. It’s hard for me to slow down, but my body has forced me to do so.
Hopefully if there’s anything I take away from these experiences, it’s to know my limits beforehand and avoid situations like this altogether, if at all possible. I know that taking the earliest flight out and latest flight back makes no sense for me. I know that having a turnaround time of less than a day doesn’t work. I know what I can handle. I know what is realistic, and in the last several months, I have put myself in completely unrealistic situations. I have set myself up to fail. I have to care about myself more and love myself enough to have the confidence in making decisions that are right for me. Because if I don’t look out for myself, no one else will look out for me.