I didn't even miss a single Zumba class the last time I had the flu. That wasn't intentional, however. I had gotten the flu shot as early as possible in September. I was covered. When I got sick in mid-February, I assumed that it was a bad cold or something. I wasn't going to wimp out and skip Zumba just because I felt under the weather. I'm not lazy! A few days later, younger son came down with whatever I had. He watched movies while I worked (I was working on Public Health Reports at home at that point).
He got a little better, and then he got worse again. When I took him to the pediatrician, it turned out that he had a secondary infection from the flu! So much for that year's flu shot, which, apparently, didn't cover the strain going around NC.
All this means that I was doing really badly a week and a half ago when I actually left Zumba halfway through. I was so dizzy and disoriented that I was afraid I'd injure myself or someone else.
Not that I took it easy, of course. We had arranged to go to Asheville that weekend. I took a long nap that (Friday) afternoon, then I packed, and we left when everyone got home. We had a wonderful weekend hiking with daughter, eating out, talking, etc. I didn't drive at all, however.
I had been worried about how my body felt. Along with the dizziness, my face felt buzzy, I had intestinal trouble, my breathing was kind of strange, etc. I was concerned that it might be a heart thing, but it was fairly constant - nothing ever got worse. I didn't want to mess up the weekend for everyone so I talked to dear husband about it on Monday.
It turns out that all of these things can also be signs of anxiety attacks! However, I couldn't slow down because I had another week of running to go (last week).
The last few weeks of the summer musical - in July - are always really busy. This year, I just kept running around at the same pace through most of August. After visits, I had three weeks of all the vet, doctor, and dentist appointments I hadn't done during July and catching up on lots of errands.
The strange thing is that, two days before the dizziness started, I thought I'd really turned a corner. I had been running around all day for days, didn't take breaks, and kept doing things until late in the evening. I was reaching my goal of getting lots done! It was wonderful! I could keep going like this!
However, my body disagreed.
I said that was the second thing that told me something was wrong. The first one was that, after getting down to really good levels in the spring after getting used to the CPAP, my blood pressure was drifting slowly up again. Was something wrong with the CPAP?
The last doctor's appointment of my three week run was last Thursday at the sleep clinic. The PA said that everything seemed to be going well, usage-wise with the CPAP. The problems I was having with the mask didn't have anything to do with my BP. Then she asked how my stress had been.
She said that her blood pressure goes up if she spends too much time rushing around. She asked how I get rid of stress, and I mentioned Zumba. After a brief bit of Zumba-thusiam (she likes it too), she asked what other ways I get rid of stress.
"Umm.... I internalize it and try not to bother anyone."
"I have lots of hobbies... oh, but I haven't done most of them for weeks."
"You need to figure out how to relax and de-stress."
She recommended the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine, as did my regular doctor the week before. I'm now looking into their fall de-stressing programs.
It's really difficult for me to slow down. First, there are so many interesting things to do. I want to run around and do them all. Second, I get a lot of my self-esteem from getting lots done.
Okay, I lied. I get almost all of my self-esteem from that. I decided, decades ago, that, even though I wasn't pretty and didn't have a good personality*, I could at least work hard and accomplish a lot. I did so in high school, college, and beyond. When my older two kids were little, I homeschooled them, did part-time programming, went to graduate school part-time, and taught hi/low aerobics.** That was my high point of getting lots done. I still judge myself against that.
Now? I'm homeschooling one teen. I'm not even working part-time right now. I have no reason to slow down.
However, my body is telling me, in many different ways, that I need to.
My family is pushing me to do so. This weekend, while we were talking about this, dear husband said that he doesn't love me because of what I get done, but because of who I am (and our kids do too). He even thinks (and always has thought) that I'm cute (kids do too)!
It's so difficult to not make discipline the first thing in everything I do. I don't even sing with music when I drive in the car so that I can save my voice for the musical or choir (my voice tires easily). I sang in the car last week - it was so much fun!
One day last week, I had some extra time. Younger son looked at me very sternly and told me that I should do something fun - not chores!
My first thought was, "What am I going to do?" My second thought was, "Play flute."
I almost got teary. I haven't played flute since last spring when I accompanied the choir for one anthem. One of the things I played was the Fugace from Claude Bolling's Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano, which I've loved since I bought Jean-Pierre Rampal's recording back in high school:
That's my fall - trying to slow down, de-stress, and not judge every action by how disciplined I'm being. I'll have to ignore the parts of my mind that will tell me that I'm lazy or evil for slowing down. I couldn't cancel the doctor's appointments this last week, but I did skip Zumba and go for walks instead (not because of the Zumba, but because of all the driving it takes to get to Zumba). I don't know what I'm going to do with choir at this point - church services make me more tense than just about anything, but I can really relax and enjoy the Wednesday evening rehearsals. I'm trying to look at the gardens by enjoying them rather than just looking at what needs to be done in them.
There are so many things to change.
What I mean by "For real this time" in the post title is that I've realized over and over the last few years that I need to slow down (and I've written lots of blog posts about it). I do it for a while, and then my old habits come back. I have to get rid of those habits to keep myself off of BP drugs (which I've been allergic to three of so far).
Oh, and I'm going to post blog posts without re-checking them fifty-zillion times!
* It's what I was told, often, by the bullies in Junior High. It's amazing how it still affects me.
** Teach aerobics at 6:15; homeschool & housework from then until after dinner; graduate school/study or work until midnight.