Mother’s Day weekend 2010.
I remember that it was a gorgeous weekend. The sun was shining, and it was the perfect weekend to sit outside and watch Andrew play baseball. As I walked toward the field carrying the mandatory lawn chair, suntan lotion, Gatorade and snacks, I looked down at my phone to read a text. The next thing I knew, I fell into a large ditch and twisted my left ankle. My belongings scattered except for my chair which I landed on and was now digging into the small of my back. The popping noise was deafening. The pain was real. I tried to stand up but couldn’t move – partly from the throbbing and partly from being in a slight state of shock. Other parents came to my rescue. One person recognized me and ran to get my husband who was coaching just a few yards away.
Baseball would have to wait. Mother’s Day preparations for our annual barbecue would have to wait. We drove to the hospital. I was convinced my ankle was broken, but the x-ray proved otherwise. They sent me home with crutches, a boot and a daily regimen of ice and Advil. Weeks later and still in pain, I went to a sports doctor who diagnosed it as a high ankle sprain – an injury that many athletes endure. He said I was in good company.
I spent two more months in the boot and then I was cleared to go on with my active life. Ten years later, I can report that my ankle has never been the same. I can’t count how many times I have walked with friends, and my ankle turns inexplicably. I laugh it off and chalk it up to wearing the wrong shoes or tripping over nothing, but it kept on happening. And then a few weeks ago, the dog got out, and I chased after it. Long story short (too late? 😉 ), I fell again and the pain and swelling reappeared.
This time, I didn’t go to the hospital. I made an appointment at the Foot and Ankle Center. These people truly specialize in this area, and I wanted the best. After an MRI, I found out I tore my anterior talo-fibular ligament or ATFL. It was probably already torn from the original injury and never treated properly. Now, I’m going to physical therapy and may or may not need surgery.
Why am I telling you all of this? Well, it makes for a good story, but it isn’t just that. This was a transformative moment or as we like to say to our kids a teachable moment. There is a lesson to be learned here.
In hindsight, I should have insisted on an MRI and a second opinion, but I was too busy. Too busy taking care of my young family, working a full-time job, and putting everyone else’s needs before my own. Self-care was never top of mind. But, as I get older, I am making it more of a priority. If I’ve learned anything from this experience, I need to carve out the time to take care of myself.
Just in case you busy moms out there have forgotten, self-care is any activity we do deliberately to take care of our physical, emotional, or mental health. It is not selfish or indulgent. And it is not a one-time thing. It doesn’t even take a lot of time, and it’s so important to our survival. What it does is recharge your battery, build your resilience, and help avoid burnout. And in my case, it could have saved me years of aggravation dealing with an injury.
Self-care is hard to do, and I’m a “walking example” of that. If you think you are too busy to go to the doctor, you aren’t. Make an appointment. If you think you don’t have time to visit with your friends and family. You do. You have to make the time. If you think you shouldn’t waste time pursuing your passions and interests, you are wrong. If you’ve always wanted to do something for yourself, but never get around to it, ask yourself why and then make a plan.
Self-care is about giving people the best of you, not what’s left of you.
What does self-care look like for you? And how will you carve out time in your schedule for it?