Sometimes I follow my own advice and sometimes I don’t. When I don’t, I’m usually sorry about it. Saturday night I was very sorry. I fell and injured my right hip. Why? Because I tried to do too much. I didn’t slow down. I didn’t rest.
I was very tired that day because it’s been hot here, and people like me with multiple sclerosis don’t do well in the heat. We had a party to go to that evening. I really wanted to attend. I should have realized I wasn’t in shape to go. As soon as I stood up, I could tell I wasn’t walking well.
If I had taken a cold shower to cool down and given myself an hour to rest, I’m sure I would have been fine. But my wife wanted to go right then, and I pushed myself. “It’ll be OK,” I said.
It wasn’t. I lost my balance and fell awkwardly, and I’ve been in bed for the last couple of days as a result. I had forgotten the first rule in my book The Art of Getting Well: Slow down, or you might crash.
Life on the Dog Track
Why is it so hard to rest, even for people who should know better? It’s the way we’re raised. To quote myself in AGW, “For many of us, life feels like a dog track, where we live like greyhounds chasing mechanical rabbits (such as money, happiness, or doing good) while being stuck from behind by cattle prods (such as fear of poverty or low self-esteem). The race runs through our waking hours and often invades sleep. Meanwhile, the pain builds in our organs and muscles. Our healing systems start to wear down, and the next thing you know, the doctor is recommending a triple bypass.”
This difficulty is unfortunate, because, as Father Thomas Keating says, “Rest is the basis of all healing.” Our bodies have a lot of work to do to stay healthy in our stressful environment. Our immune systems have to fight infection as well as repair damage to arteries, nerves, and other tissues. Our bodies can heal themselves if we let them. They can’t do this if we burn up all our energy in work, other demands, and entertainment. Right now, my hip is starting to feel better. But it wouldn’t if I was up walking around on it.
Rest and Diabetes
Does it seem strange to recommend rest in a diabetes blog? After all, they’re always telling us to get our bodies moving. And they’re right. I’m not talking about vegging out in front of the TV, scarfing chips. The point is to let your mind rest, let your spirit rest, pay attention to what’s important to you, and let some other things go. In fact, physical movement can be a form of rest. If you’re not too tired. If you are, you should just lie down.
How do we find space to rest in lives full of other demands, including the demands of diabetes self-care? I’m going to go into this issue in detail next time. But here are some ideas.
How about you? Do you get enough rest? Could you use some more? What gets in your way? What ways have you learned to rest? Get back to me here or through my Web site, www.davidsperorn.com, and I’ll post your suggestions next week, along with some of my own.