By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

Yes We Can

With COVID-19 always being in the background as the number one health issue right now, it’s easy to overlook other elements of keeping ourselves well. I found that out the hard way as I had to drive myself to urgent care at the beginning of this weekend.

It’s nothing new that I’m always on the go. I’m always on the move for one of my various projects. I don’t get a lot of sleep, and I don’t have a lot of free time any more. I’ve considered that just one of the necessities of right now.

I research and cover a lot of COVID-19 news each week. This past week alone, I attended the memorial of Dr. Rogers at the stadium, taking in one of those “community moments” where I grieved in between snapping photos. His passing has hit hard this past week, and in hearing his children deliver their eulogies, I thought of my own father. After the service, I made time for an evening walk around the Navarro College campus, taking a moment to reconnect with his own anniversary and the personal sense of loss that remains from it.

I thought a lot that night about how I’ve been personally fortunate. To date, I haven’t contracted COVID-19, but I’ve worked at making sure I don’t. Considering how active I am, it’s something of a miracle. I take the necessary precautions. I keep masked wherever I go.

I’ve gained one unexpected side benefit from the mask: I usually get an average of two colds a year like clockwork: One in the summer, and one in the winter. Not having that the “look forward to” has been weird.

But sickness takes many forms. Stress, insomnia, not routinely eating, or when I do, it’s in a rush to get to the next appointment. I pulled a muscle in my stomach last summer. If you’ve never had that happen, it’s a son of a gun. But I pulled through, though I never rested. In fact, I got busier than ever. And that, how they say, “is how it all started.”

I’ve been dealing with different types of stomach issues for a while. Keeping it simple, it’s been a lot of abdomen pain, but I ignored it. Also, I’ve been avoiding going to the doctor if I can help it. It is, after all, busier than ever with people checking in to see if they had COVID symptoms. If I’m not “dying,” I’m going to avoid it.

This past week, my stomach pain steadily increased, becoming more intense. I spent one day in bed, crawling out to update something on here, then crawling back into bed. Not my most productive day. I finally couldn’t take it anymore, and drove myself to urgent care.

The good news is, I’m okay and will be fine. I’m fortunately in pretty decent shape overall. To simplify it: It’s the “Joys of middle age.” I got some meds, and two days later, I’m better than I have been in a while. Urgent care is great for non-life threatening issues. But the point is, for all of my working, I wasn’t doing my job when it came to taking care of myself.

Stress. Insomnia. Bad diet. Reduced general check-ups especially when middle aged. I was more focused on not getting COVID-19. I underestimated my current bout of overall good health because I had avoided three of my regularly scheduled flu sessions. “I’ll get by,” I thought. “Keep the clinics and doctor offices open for those who really need it right now.”

With so many restrictions and changes in our personal schedules this past year, our “new normal” is affecting us in other ways we aren’t acknowledging. This past year has been mentally exhausting. We’re all wearing our stress in different ways. Apathy, lethargy, or just plain denial of the situation. To deal with these numerous changes, I chose to work harder than ever, and it finally caught up.

I’ll still be writing as normal, but I’m going to be spacing out my time better, and making better meal choices. I sometimes forget I don’t have my “iron dumpster” tolerance for junk food like I did in my twenties.

I’d recommend taking time for yourself as well right now. There’s nothing wrong in taking a moment to ask yourself: “How am I really doing today?”

I’ve rather enjoyed turning my brain off and taking a mental break, a real one, over the last two days. All I know is I’ve slept better this past weekend than I have in weeks.

Take care of yourself these days. You need it more than you realize.

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