I have been sick just like any other mom, we push through still doing what we have to and don’t often get a “sick day”. But last fall was something I have never experienced before, not even the winter of strep was anything like this.
At the end of October my husband went to China for work for a couple weeks. The kids and I actually did really well, we were excited to pick him up at the airport when I got the call from the airline asking me to come alone. My husband had a blood clot and they were worried that something might happen to him. He arrived home safely but had a hard time adjusting back to our time and he became sick. So although he was home he really wasn’t.
Within a couple of days I started with a nagging cough that just came on out of the blue. I wasn’t sick before so I just figured something has irritated me as I’ve become sensitive to some irritants. After a couple weeks it was getting worse and sounded horrible. One afternoon I started coughing up blood so I made an appointment to see my doctor, something that I barely do. He said my lungs sounded fine but put me on an antibiotic anyways. Something I would soon learn was a good thing.
I finished the antibiotic and was still coughing, not as bad during the day but the nights became horrible. I woke up one night gasping for air. I started to panic. I coughed and coughed and no matter what I did I couldn’t breathe. I got out of bed and headed right outside into the middle of cold night in hopes that the fresh air would help. This went on for weeks.
My husband threatened to take me to the hospital as seeing his wife struggle like that over and over every night was “too much” as he said. I refused but after 2 weeks of no sleep I was becoming desperate and went back to my doctor. He said that it just seemed viral so there wasn’t anything we could do.
After 3 weeks of no sleep I started to research in the middle of the night coughs and came across pertussis also known as the whooping cough. The symptoms sounded just like mine and I listened to an audio file of what the cough sounded like and my husband immediately said that was exactly me.
Desperate I went back to my doctor who gave me a little information. He said that the antibiotic he gave me weeks prior was would be prescribed for pertussis but that it has to be given within the 1st week to be helpful or else the patient suffers from what is called the “120 day cough”. He did the swab test to see if I was still carrying the bacteria as it is highly contageuos and sent me for an X-ray as he knew I was really suffering by this point.
Immediately we got the X-ray which showed I had pneumonia in my left lung. I told him I wanted more drugs, crazy coming from me the homeopathic queen, but I was getting really tired of it. The middle of the night attacks were waring on me. I was told I needed to take it easy and get lots of rest. Something easy for someone who cant sleep because of the coughing and a workaholic who was in her busiest season.
I went home and my husband forced me into bed where I spent 4 days. I received a message from my doctor telling me that the swab didn’t work and did I want to do another, but also that the radiologist saw that my left lung with the pneumonia had partially collapsed. So the pertussis coughing cause my lung to collapse which cause the pneumonia.
So here I sat very sick and forced into bed in what was my busiest season. I am so thankful that i have some really amazing people working for me who took care of everything for me. My husband drive the kids to school, came home from work and made dinner (something big from the guy who doesn’t cook) took care of the kids. He did runs to the printer, packaged up orders and shipped them for me. He wouldn’t let me do anything which was a good thing as just going downstairs caused me such difficulty breathing.
My poor kids missed me, but they understood that mommy was sick and needed to rest. they thought that I was funny because I had the whopping cough. Daddy explained to them that when I had an attack I would start singing “whoop there it is” which always got them laughing. Love him for making the bad turn into something good for them!
The second round of antibiotics and strict regimin of homeopathic remedies started to finally help. I was no longer having these horrible attacks all night long. It was once or twice a night and for the most part I was able to control them.
By the end of January I was finally feeling almost normal. This mom who always puts herself last was forced to put herself first for once which I think was the universes way of smacking me upside the head! I spent the holidays with my family and reminding myself of how I was never going to put me last again.
I learned many valuable lessons over those months. One of the most important is that sometimes mommy had to take a sick day and that the rest of family will survive just fine!
The one promise I made to myself for 2012 was that I was going to get my priorities in check.
I think one of the biggest challenges of any mom and mompreneur is that we feel like we can do it all. I know I could for the most part do it all, well do it all for everyone else. I would make sure all work was done and gave it 110%. I cared too much about what others thought so I would go above and beyond to keep my friends and people around me happy. I would try to keep my kids happy and healthy. Make sure my husband was okay and last and sometimes never was myself.
By putting myself last I was also putting my family last. At the end of the day there wasn’t much left, so when they needed me most I was sometimes already shut down.
As you know the end of 2011 taught me that I could not continue like this any longer.
So like anything I set forth with my plan. Spend more time on me, work more effectively so that I can focus on spending more time with my family and not be worried about what work I need to do. The biggest plan was to disconnect myself from my computer, email and phone while I am with my kids to allow them 100% of me.
One of the main reasons I started my business was to allow me to be there for my kids and I started to realize while I was there physically I wasn’t there emotionally and that is what they needed. My two aren’t babies anymore, my youngest turned 5 last week (insert tears here) and I have realized that I have missed lots of fun family time. I know that soon enough they will be older and need me a lot less. I want to be there now and enjoy them now.
I don’t want more regrets about how my kids grew up while my head was tucked in my computer working on making my business into something big.
So like all plans I have my idea of what I want to do and I don’t always follow through properly. I get sidetracked by something exciting to do like working on new products or designs, or some new web site sucker like the fun known as Pinterest.
Just as I seem to lose focus something reminds me of the plan and I get put back on track.
For me my family comes first. If my kids need me I will be there for them. My kids are both in school from 8:45am to 3:45pm so I have a good solid time that I am able to work. I might have a week where I have things that pull me away from my perfectly scheduled time for working. I try not to put anything else in this time because it isn’t easy to makeup the missed “work time” because I went to the doctor, did some shopping or met a friend for lunch.
If it is for my kids I am now okay with taking the time. So maybe this month I take extra time taking one of my kids to some very important appointments. We take a short trip as a family to celebrate a birthday and I tag along with my husband on a business trip to California.
At the end of the day working myself into a ball of stress won’t do anything for me when I am no longer here.
Focus on enjoying life is my plan and doing it while enjoying running my business just seems like a bonus. I do love what I do after all. As long as I do it under my terms all is good!
- Lindsay Brewda is a graphic designer, owner of GraceAnnouncements.com, wife and mother of two. A chocolate lover and Pearl Jam fan, Lindsay also loves to blog about her crazy life - raising kids while running a business!