On Being Kind
In 2008 I had a myocardial infarction due to vasospasm of unknown origin. In other words, I had a heart attack that couldn’t be explained through normal reasons and tests. My arteries were clear, my blood pressure low, and the doctors kept me in the hospital for four days, looking for an explanation of what happened. It was during my hospital time that I resolved I would be kind to myself so that I could focus on healing physically and emotionally – if I couldn’t good to me, I couldn’t expect anyone else to be, either.
Later that same year I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It was a banner year for me and my health, and the one thing I held close to get through this next roller coaster ride was the idea I had to continue to be kind to myself, first.
I began my daily injection disease modifying therapy and embraced the idea that I was in control of my MS – that tells you how little I really knew at the time about this disease. It wasn’t until later that I realized my MS would do what it wanted and I could only throw up obstacles and road blocks to slow it down.
Somewhere in that first year I decided I really needed to be kind to myself for being a compliant patient and that’s when my habit began. Each night I would give myself the shot and then reward myself with a bowl of ice cream. The flavor really didn’t matter – chocolate, rocky road, butter pecan – they were all part of my incentive plan. Quite often it was topped with some gooey syrup and whipped cream.
A few months into this nightly habit, my doctor discovered my A1C was creeping upwards and I was faced with the real possibility that all this ice cream was creating problems with my blood sugar. I knew I had to make a change, so I buckled down, made the sacrifice, and started using a much smaller bowl to hold my frozen reward for taking those shots and I skipped the whipped cream.
For almost three years I was on this treatment and I remained kind to myself with rewards for remaining compliant. Eventually the drug started causing unacceptable side effects and I was becoming less compliant- even the self-made promise of ice cream couldn’t get me over the hump to inject on some evenings; but I would withhold the ice cream if I didn’t tough it out and do my shot. My neurologist recommended I make a switch of therapies and after my own research about this drug and some preliminary tests, I went to a once monthly infusion treatment.
A few partially consumed cartons of ice cream languished in the freezer – my daily incentive was no longer needed and it was replaced by a new monthly indulgence! Along the interstate route I drive to reach my infusion center, is a soft custard shop that makes wonderful specialty flavors of the day. Each month my car instinctively turns as I am heading home, getting of the highway at exit #93, and takes me to a place where I can really be kind to myself. I can skip the special toppings and go for the pure custard experience of Really Reese’s, Strawberry Bon Bon or Cookie Dough explosion, to name just a few of their special flavors. Sometimes I will plan ahead and check out their website, but more often than not, I choose to surprise myself and wait until I round the corner and see the marquee sign that lists that day’s flavor. In case you haven’t already figured it out, the flavor doesn’t particularly matter because I tend to like them all.
My blood sugar levels have improved since I now only reward myself every 28 days instead of daily, and I can continue to be kind to myself with this special treat, guilt free. It’s funny what head games I play with myself to get through the realities of treating my MS. Enduring all these needle jabs requires me to be extra kind to myself, and in my case that happens to be with ice cream.
Do you have some special way you are kind to yourself? I sure hope so because you and I are worth it.
Wishing you well,