Last week, I wasn’t right. All the signs were there: a cold, lethargy, and not getting good rest. Sure, I was still working out and eating well, but I just knew something wasn’t right. Tuesday, I went home early as a precaution, took a nice nap and felt better. With both Wednesday and Thursday being big days at work, I “toughened” it out, knowing deep down that I still wasn’t well. My symptoms became worse, including the chills, fever, and serious congestion. I went into the doctor’s office on Friday and after a series of tests, including a chest x-ray, was diagnosed with the flu and a slight case of pneumonia (which would have been even worse had a I waited another day.) My doctor prescribed medicines to help get me on the road to recovery. Among the many things he said to me as I was getting ready to leave, one thing I wasn’t ready for… he said I had to be in bed for a week and that the less I did, the better it would be for me.
Now, for those who know me well, being forced to be in bed for a week with nothing to do, is like taking away Biv out of Bell Biv Devoe or taking Jinx away from Max or taking away Zack Morris’ car phone…. in bed for a week? YUCK! Those words haunted my mind on the drive home, but, for as bad as I was feeling at the time, bed sounded just fine. After Sunday’s Superbowl, I started feeling better. My fever broke and my appetite was coming back. I dusted off my XBox and started playing some games, watched terrible daytime TV, and even starting watching Alias again on Netflix to pass some of the time. I also did my coursework in preparation for class this weekend. As I got the clean bill of health from my doctor yesterday, I reflected on the time spent in bed and thought of three lessons I wanted to share with you, in hopes you don’t have to suffer the same fate I did.
Lesson #1: Listen To Your Body
This sounds obvious, but with all the daily noise in our lives, its often hard to hear. The organized chaos of our routines often masks the signals being sent from our bodies that something is wrong. I would have traded two days of hard rest if I knew that it could have saved me a week. The truth is that while listening to your body is one thing, doing what it is telling you is another. When you more tired than usual, notice that little scratch in your throat, see the bags under your eyes looking a bit darker, or realizing that you are not feeling hungry enough to eat…. those are just some of the things warning you to slow down or stop all together.
Lesson #2: Intense Focus Occurs At Our Most Relaxed
As I sat in bed each day, my mind still went through its normal time calculations (e.g. what’s on the agenda for today? what time will the girls be home? etc.) However, without meetings or other obligations, I found myself just going with what the day offered. As I felt better, I began to fill my time with items that needed legitimate attention (e.g. course readings, project items, etc.) and amazingly, each got done quicker than normal. Usually, when I have productive outbursts, I keep going, pushing to see what else I could get done. Instead, when I finished what I had to do, I went back to resting by watching TV, playing video games, or some other random activity. It was at my most relaxed that I found focus, new ideas, and perspective that I would not have gained had I been in my normal routine.
Lesson #3: Silence Is Powerful
There were times that I sat in bed with all of my electronics off and my bedroom silent. I had done this at times in my car on drives home from very busy days at work. I was aware of the notion that our best ideas came in the shower or on those silent car rides, but I had never just sat in my bed, silent while awake. In that silence, my mind outlined the many things I had been doing leading up to my illness, and it was a wake up call that I had simply pushed myself to the limit… it was my own choices, my own fault. Certainly, it goes without saying that the voices in your head can make feel crazy at times, but it was the clearest my head had been in a long time.
I am headed to class tonight, relaxed and refreshed and I plan on being this way on Monday when I’m back at work as well. While I have a lot to catch up on, I won’t be going at it with the same breakneck speed I was used to. As someone who tries their best to focus on their health and wellness, I really need to do better… if not for myself, but for my family and friends as well.
Finally, before I left the doctor’s office, I asked if I could resume my training schedule with running along with my strength training plan. He approved, but cautioned me on doing too much too soon, as my body would need time to build up its strength again.
I have a feeling that’s how my life is going to be for a while 🙂
Have you ever had to spend a week or more on bed rest? How did you deal with the break in your routine? Did things change when you got well?