Caring for yourself after a major health scare – physically and mentally. I will get straight to the point. I recently had a major health scare. It resulted in 2 blue flashing lights ambulance trips to hospital and stays in hospital. In a fairly short period of time.
I was well cared for, but when discharged was not well enough to return to work. In short recover physically and mentally and adjust to essential changes in life. I am still recovering at the time of writing this article (July) and am unsure how long recovery will take.
Some of the issues I was facing
- Tiredness – physical and mental
- Appointments – sometimes at short notice
- Transport issue – when unable to drive and public transport is bad
- Dependence on others – not always nice
- Contacting work – internet issues did not help
- Contacting family – sometimes a distance away
- Emotions – due to major changes in routine, and uncertainty
- Loss of confidence – in abilities, then and in the future
- Diary – record feelings, meetings, progress, blood pressure and medical related information generally. Once written it can be referred to and progress clear.
- Help from others – accept this as a necessity, and ask for help, however much you value your independence. This may include lifts to appointments, food shopping, people advocating for you, outings. A friend told me to enjoy it when I apologised for asking her to fill in a hospital form, as I felt unable to fill it in tidily and quickly.
- Stay local after discharge – this will make it easier to access follow up services and attend last minute meetings and appointments.
- Contacts – keep friends/family informed. I contacted only a few people, and kept them updated. They spread the word to others. Sometimes this is a better approach due to poor internet reception or problems typing. Once home keep them informed. I asked a friend to contact work for me, due to poor reception in the hospital. Work accepted her as point of contact for a short period of time.
Paperwork – there may be a lot to organise. This could include discharge notes, meetings, health notes, communication, jobs list and more. I used plastic pockets in a bag and a note book. I kept this nearby, and took it with me when I returned to the hospital. That way I knew I would have all relevant information with me. The note book is used for medical related information.
Medications – note on the boxes times to be taken. Create a time schedule and keep to it. Pill boxes can help, especially if you are away for part or all of a day, or on holiday.
- Food – Preparing good, fresh food every meal can be tiring. Preparing batch meals when you can, refrigerating or freezing some, helps, adding vegetables, rice pasta etc makes food quick, easy, and energy saving. I prepare salads a few day in advance – grab and go. Or accepting help from others, if they can bring food.
Psychological or mental health is an invisible but equally important to recovery.
- Be kind to yourself – don’t blame yourself, love yourself. Treat yourself, even in small ways for small victories. Warning signs of conditions can be easy to miss.
- Take time to recover – take it at the right pace for you, not the pace others want. You know best. Small steps are good, you may go backwards sometimes, but you will go forward again. Don’t give up.
- Reflect/Review – on what happened, possible reasons why, how to improve and move on in the future, new goals, totally new direction possibly.
- Celebrate victories – however small. Put these in your diary, it will make you feel better. Even putting in times of challenge, then improved shows your progress. It may be a long journey.
- Appreciate your friends – to help you with transport, shopping, or just to speak to. I’ve been able to discuss my experiences with friends who have gone through a similar experience, and known an issue will often pass, with time.
- Meditate – options include deep breathing, exercises from websites. Relaxation will help mental wellbeing.
This does not cover all situations, nor discuss medical advice, but I hope it will help others, based on my experience. You may find other ways.
- Work can replace you, but you and family can’t.
- Take care of yourself and love yourself.
- It may be a long journey but you will make progress.
- You future may be different, but it is not the end of the world.