Recently I received an email regarding a self care event taking place locally to where I live. On reading through the flyer I realised how this is such an important area of our lives that for myself did not truly figure in my life until recently. Yes it did in a functional way as in I bathed, clothed and nourished myself daily but more because this is what I’m expected to do, to get me through the day. It wasn’t coming from self-responsibility or with a sense of worth, true support or care for myself.
This self care event helped me reflect on how the choice to provide true support, and really care for myself in a way I haven’t previously, was part of why I had an amazing stay in hospital recently. I was in hospital for major surgery and every moment of my stay was met with care from everyone involved and flowed smoothly with ease. There is no person or part of it I would change.
On the day I was leaving hospital I met another lady on the same ward as me. I was expressing how amazing the staff had been and the high level of care I had received. However, her experience had not been the same. She spoke briefly of certain nurses and the events. I came away considering how could this be when we were in the same ward, with the same length of stay so therefore with the same team of medical staff. The only variable is the recipient of the health care was me and her.
When I look at this now, I can see that yes I had a huge part to play in the high level of hospital care I received because that is what my body and I were putting out to receive.
Could it be that how I cared for myself before going into hospital meant this way of being continued once I was there? Could it be I have a part to play in the quality of care I will receive from another?
I have had numerous visits to the hospital over the past 5 years and the hospital care and understanding has been amazing as well as learning much about how the National Health Service system works. I have learnt I have as much responsibility for my health and well being as the care they offer, therefore I have chosen to take an active role in the process by constantly asking questions. I have found this approach means I feel listened to and any concerns I have had are met with understanding. The doctors and nurses from my experience treat me with respect and I feel empowered. All along I have felt it is important to know what is happening at each point and to give myself time to make these important decisions. However this stay was even greater in care and until now, I haven’t considered how this could be?
In the past I have put plans into place but approached it from a need to ‘just get me through’ what was happening. This time though, I chose to feel in my body how I could truly support myself. These plans were coming from ‘a care for myself and not wanting it to be any other way’. This meant that all the details had to be looked at and this felt natural and effortless.
How did this approach to my own self care look?
- I made sure I was clear about the medical procedure I was having. So I talked to the surgeon to understand what was happening during and after in terms of how my body would be and the recovery time required. This took two extra re-visits to feel completely satisfied and each time was met with understanding and care from my consultant and nurses.
- A couple of weeks before, making practical arrangements for myself and 2 children. This involved accommodation for them during and after my 5 day stay in hospital and a support system in place for myself post-surgery involving a small team of people so no one felt overwhelmed.
- Letting go of needing to attend to and control every detail regarding the children, as they are old enough to express their needs to those caring for them and trusting others to take care of them.
- Preparing some meals for the freezer and arranging my house, as I would like it for when I returned home knowing I am likely to feel more sensitive and fragile during my recovery period.
- Honoring and accepting what my body is going through physically and to keep expressing and honoring how this feels.
- Stopping work a few days before so I could focus on my needs and ensure I felt rested before the surgery.
- Checking I had covered everything I would need to support me whilst waiting before surgery and during my stay in hospital, e.g. soft pillows, blanket (quite often in short supply in hospital), food to take, as well as someone delivering fresh food daily, favorite clothing etc.
- Having someone unpack and create a space for me on returning to the ward. This felt wonderful!
- In hospital staying aware of the staff I was interacting with, and though I was only with them a short time, getting to know them and forming a relationship.
- Taking the necessary medication as a support for my body through the process, having checked the ingredients first to honour my gluten and dairy free diet.
- Asking and being open to help as well as allowing myself to be supported and looked after by others by not hiding my feelings of vulnerability and fragility.
Now having had time at home and to continue looking after myself and be looked after with the same quality, my recovery has been simple, with no complications. I have been able to consider that maybe the self care and true support I show towards myself is not only necessary because I was going into hospital but is actually how I am to live with myself everyday in order to take responsibility for my health and wellbeing and for true changes to occur.
I can see that in taking time and care with my part in the procedure i.e. setting up a support system etc. that my body could easily play its part by being open to the surgery and the healing that followed.
Over the last few years I have attended workshops presented by Universal Medicine and have heard the phrase to look after myself with the same tenderness as if I were a baby. I hadn’t fully felt or embraced what this meant but I am now learning each day to appreciate and understand these steps I make to self care and make choices to ensure I am looking after myself in the same quality I would care for a baby. Through the workshops I have been able to see and shake off those parts of me I have taken on to just to get through life. One of those ways was ‘head down and just get on with whatever was happening regardless of the struggle’ and obviously to sustain this existence it has meant losing the connection I had with myself as a child to know what truly honours and supports me in life. Simply put, now I am learning to live as the precious, beautiful woman I am and am willing to build a relationship with myself.
All I have shared is possible as a result of re-connecting and choosing to continually redevelop and deepen the care and love for myself I deserve as a woman. I am learning this is valuable as a support in daily life and I am worthy of that self care. However equally friends, family, Universal Medicine practitioners and hospital staff were involved who cared for myself and two children and helped towards making the ease of the above possible.
For this commitment and willingness to be there alongside me I express my huge thanks and appreciation.
By Julie Snelgrove, Merchandiser, Somerset, England