Oh my gosh, I’m sorry for that clickbait-y title, but it sort of encompassed exactly what I wanted to chat about today. This past Wednesday and Thursday I was hospitalized with some scary symptoms that no one could figure out. Basically I had some numbess and tingling on the right side of my body, with weakness and dizziness. My husband brought me to urgent care, where they weren’t altogether sure I wasn’t having a stroke, then sent me to the ER. The following 24 hours was filled with being admitted to the hospital overnight and having MRI’s CT scans, Xrays, lab work, EKG’s, etc, all trying to eliminate some really bad things. Phrases such as ” stroke,” anuerysm,” “blood clots,” “heart attack,” ” MS,” etc were thrown around. There was a lot of uncertainy and in the end they ruled out all of the really bad stuff (luckily!) The only downside is they don’t really know what is wrong. So that stinks.
What I really wanted to chat about today though were some strategies I used during this time to keep myself from panicking and really freaking out. This is what I did during the hardest part, waiting for care in the ER, being stuck in an MRI machine for 40 minutes, and in the downtime between tests when they say, ” Hey, we are testing you for possible signs of MS.” This stuff really grounded me and I wanted to share in the case that you may need it it someday (though, I hope you don’t!) Life is full of really scary moments, and it is nice to have concrete things to focus on when things go bad really quickly.
Strategies for when life is A LOT
1) One of the things I do in my daily life is to use mantras to replace negative thoughts. I’ve talked about this when it comes to body confidence, but I use it for health, too. I truly believe in the law of attraction, in that we attract what we talk about and think about. I don’t like to talk about bad health or illness, and we say in my house a lot, “I am healthy and free of illness!” When my brain goes to thoughts of pain or sickness, I repeat that one phrase over and over again, often with a loud, internal “STOP!” to tell my brain to refocus. It takes some practice, but I rarely talk about sickness or pain if I can help it beyond a statement. The joke in my house is that we will often say, “I am not feeling my personal best,” rather than complain about how we are feeling.
A lot of my wait time between doctors the other day was filled with me saying in my head over and over again, “All is well. I am healthy and free of illness. Everything is always working out for me.” My brain would try to kick in, “Hey, but what if you are having a stroke and you will be paralyzed? Or what if you die and leave your kids motherless?” The second those thoughts kicked in I would just stop them when I noticed them, and repeat my positive phrases. Often it would be five minutes filled with the run on sentence of, “All is well. All is well, All is well….” I did this the most in the MRI machine (twice), which was scary. I hate small places! Or when we first got to the ER and I could tell how serious things were. It sounds so simple, but it kept me in the moment and stopped my mind from “going there,” so many times.
2) A lot of the time in the hospital was filled with people throwing out scary phrases, like “testing you for MS,” and “stroke possibility.” I’d hear this, take it in, and then I chose not to give it any attention. That especially meant not Googling symptoms of any of this, or doing any “what if’s,” either out loud with my husband or in my head. I purposefully chose to compartmentalize the info and only get info about something when I needed it, not before. Why freak myself out over something that I didn’t for sure have? This helped me a lot not to panic about future possibilities (nothing good comes from WebMD searches…) and also kept me in the moment.
3) I tried to focus on the good things. The toothbrush and toothpaste offered in my room at 4am, having my husband and kids with me the majority of the day, cozy socks to wear, watching the sunrise from my 11th floor window, joking with my husband at 2am about funny stuff on tv. There are good things in terrible situations, though I know there are lots worse situations than mine. It also gave me perspective on how wonderful my “mundane” life is at home. My cozy bed and beautiful home and movie nights with my family are everything, and I’m so glad to be home to enjoy them!
That’s it! You guys, these strategies completely saved me when life went upside down on us.
I do a lot of this in my daily life, but having the knowledge to do it all when everything was uncertain was EVERYTHING. Even just saying “All is Well” one million times when I really wanted to panic was a gamechanger for me when it came to my mental sanity.
I hope you can take some of these strategies and utilize them in your daily life, either in an emergency, or in your daily life when you need some relief from stress and worry.