February is heart health month and I’ve seen the heart-tugging margarine commercials with children reading love letters to their mothers. I’m no longer immune to the tear-inducing qualities of these types of emotional displays on TV and in real life. Being a mom has quite literally broken me. The constant focus on mental health and wellness has pushed most of my other health issues into the background to the point where they are just like buzzing mosquitoes in my ear. I know they need to be dealt with, but I swat them away and get temporary relief until I’m reminded of them again.
I recently left some college forms for my doctor to fill out. Hoping it would be a quick and easy pick up since there was no PAP to sweat over, I didn’t plan on this stop causing me any grief. As I was leaving, I stopped to chat with the medical assistant about the date of my three year old’s next check up. The doctor came running out of her office and said “I’m glad you are still here, I need to talk to you.” Dun, dun, dun…I knew what the doctor was going to say before she even spoke. She steered me into her office and closed the door.
“You didn’t keep the follow up appointment for your blood work in October, we need to discuss your cholesterol, thyroid, iron, and B12 levels.”
I figured you’d call me if anything serious came up.
“You also haven’t had a PAP since your daughter was born? You need to buckle down and be proactive with your health.”
I’m just busy trying to finish college and we moved before Christmas.
“Busy? You’re ignoring your health risks.”
I’ve got time yet, I’m not 40.
Do you want to talk about support for changing your health?
I guess so, I just thought I was a tired mom. I’m surviving on 3-4 hours sleep.
“Well, I need you to start taking B12 supplements, continue with your iron pills, and come back in a month to recheck your thyroid function and cholesterol.”
I stopped taking those big iron pills months ago because they give me a terrible taste in my mouth.
*scribbles on a note pad*
“Take 3 small doses of iron, one with each meal and see if that helps. Chronic anemia doesn’t disappear on its own, you need to take these for at least 3 months.”
As I record this script of events I realize that I’m very disconnected from my health problems even though the red flags are waving daily. And I know that my doctor must be very frustrated with my stubborn attitude. It’s true that I’m busy, but deep down I’m also in denial about my age, weight, and overall health risks passed on by genetics. This recent pep talk with my doctor sunk in over the days that followed. And I was reminded of one of my favorite authors quotes.
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
I despise the obsession with mortality and the anti-aging hoopla that is pushed on us from many sources. Reality strikes home when simple math tells me I will be 47 by the time my daughter is 13 years old. How long can I ignore symptoms of chronic anemia, and the risk factors resulting from being over weight? No offense to my husband, as I’m sure he would miss me if health problems took a turn for the worse. Knowing that my daughter may one day have to face puberty without having a mom to talk to is a terrible thought. I need to get re-connected with my health while they are issues that are preventable.
To risk sounding like a whiner, I HATE TAKING PILLS! Taking medications for depression was one mountain of pride I had to conquer three years ago. Up until I got pregnant I felt as though vitamins belonged in the same category as the quackery cure-all potions from the 18th and 19th century. My heart now belongs to a little girl nicknamed Princess Destructo so my head is saying Swallowing supplements and choosing to eat carefully seems a simple solution in improving my ability to cope with the daily demands on my energy levels. The hard part for me to choose health is finding the motivation to remain consistently pro-active instead of being reactive to illnesses. So, thanks Becel for tugging at this mom’s heart and reminding me that I don’t want to say good-bye yet.
Have you read about my journey with post-partum depression and why I’m so disconnected from my physical health?
Disclaimer: This article is intended to be anecdotal and is not sponsored by any of the brands mentioned within. Please see a medical profession for medical advice regarding your own health and wellness.