Sunday, October 26, 2014

The First Priority

© 2014, R.L. Delight, Morning sun.
This summer has been an amazingly sunny and dry one for the Northern Oregon Coast. I just couldn't help but feel the need to get out and paint as much as I possibly could. Add to that a happily busy performing season with the band, a town and coastal highway overflowing with tourists, long hours of daylight, and not enough hours of rest, etc., etc. It was gloriously busy...but, I thought it was never going to stop. Every week I seemed to be thinking, "One more week and then we slow down." Finally, in the middle of this month, the last hectically busy week and weekend finished.

No more having 10 minutes to eat a meal in between activities or work, no more late nights and early mornings. Finally time to slow down, catch my breath, take stock and settle into the studio.
The rains hit about the same time. Perfect! Or so I thought. I was exhausted and behind on everything. I slowly started to pick up after the summer craziness.

Just as I was planning to make an appointment with my naturopath to continue a wellness treatment, I got bit by a spider, or so I thought. First pain and then a welt appeared on my back. It wasn't bad, just inconvenient. The next day another welt, the following day yet another. I tore apart my bedding and washed everything, vacuumed, etc, but the welts kept appearing.

I made my appointment and the doctor took one look and informed me that I didn't have spider bites, I had shingles! After giving me acupuncture and giving me a long list of what to eat and what not to eat, she sent me home with orders to rest and rethink the choice I made to run myself into the ground.

Shingles hurt worse than almost anything I have ever experienced. The lesions are not particularly pretty either. This past week I have done nothing but sleep, follow my list of instructions, read, rest, and figure out what changes I need to make so that I never have to go through this again!

The main cause that triggered my shingles, besides lack of sleep? Stress, major stress. Some of that was beyond my control and some wasn't. I have spent this past week painfully reorganizing my priorities. Would it surprise people, specially women, to hear that I hadn't put self-care as my first priority?

I eat a healthy diet and I exercise but I neglected other areas such as stress reduction and well, enough sleep. It has also been brought home to me in one painful lesson that if I want to be a good artist, and believe me I do, I need to be a healthy strong person first. I thought I knew that! So, deep breath, reorganize my priorities, get the required and needed rest on a regular basis, and move on. I do have a lot of plein air studies to work from this winter in addition to working on improving my drawing!

I had to think a while to decide if I wanted to share this on my blog. This blog is about the journey I have been on as an artist. This is part of it. I consider myself very lucky. I will recover from shingles in another week or so and go on a bit more wisely. Some people don't get a second chance to make life corrections.

So I ask this question: Do you make self-care your first priority? If not, why not? I can come up with a lot of excuses to put other things and people ahead of myself but it just doesn't work. It will bite you in the rear end sooner or later!

To your good health,

P.S. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After having chickenpox the virus sleeps in the nerve tissue of the body and may or may not become active again later in life. My mate had shingles at age 28. I am just over 50. There is a lot of info out there on the internet. Some of it good, some of it not so good. I did not get the shingles vaccine as it is not considered 100% effective. I tend be allergic to many ingredients that are included in vaccines. There is no cure for the shingles. I went with a natural care treatment under the supervision of two naturopaths. I am recovering nicely and expect to be up to full health soon.


Dana said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your shingles. They are the worst! I have always admired your energy and determination...I'm much more likely to retreat into a book than get stuff done, so stress doesn't come at me from the same angle. Mike has had serious health issues this last year and I spend a lot more time thinking about his problems than mine. I hope they (my ailments) don't bite me in the butt when I'm not looking.

R. Delight said...

Oh Dana! So sorry to hear of you and Mike struggling with his serious health issues. Those are the stresses we can't really control. I am learning to control my response to them but, as I probably don't need to tell you, easier said than done. Take care of yourself too my friend. Keeping you and Mike in my thoughts.

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