I woke up today with a sore throat and feeling achey all over. No fever, but still, I decided to take it easy. I slept another hour, then spent the day resting. The sun came out for a few hours and I sat on the terrace in the sun and filed my finger- and toenails. While waiting for polish to dry, I reflected on changes. Not long ago, I would have ignored my symptoms and jumped out of bed, readying myself to tick off my to-do-list. It would have been a day of non-stop activity, as all my days were. I might well have gotten sick, or I might not have. If my symptoms worsened, I would have set aside my anti-pharmaceutical natural-health values, taken a painkiller and a decongestant, and gone ahead with my day. I was responsible not only for my own life, but for the lives of those around me: children, husband, employees, patients. No one else could do what I did; everyone was counting on me. And I was counting on myself to be successful.
In some ways, that driven quality contributed to my disability. My doctors’ failure to diagnose my gout definitely was a major cause. But I made the decision to push ahead and keep going, despite increasing pain as my cartilage splintered and bubbled under the assault of uric acid crystals. I just assumed my doctor had done the test as requested, although if I’d been one of my own patients, or one of my children, I’d have sent for the blood results just to be sure.
There was a time, in my 20s, when I knew better, and I was on a mission to carry the message of self-care to the world! But in the final analysis, I regarded myself as replaceable in my own story. Just another kid from New York; just another working mother; just another chiropractor. And in the end, of course, I was not replaceable. Once I could no longer do what I did, no one else did it. The children were launching out on their own by then (thank goodness). I sold my clinic, but the new owner transformed it into a different type of practice and many of my loyal employees lost their jobs. I sold my home and land and almost all the things I’d accumulated at a loss.
It’s ironic that I had to travel 2,300 miles, to a foreign country, bringing only my most valued small possessions, to discover that I am not replaceable. It’s a little embarrassing that it took me 54 years to really accept that the only way to care for others is to care for oneself. As I struggle to form basic words in another language, all my rationalizations and self-deceptions melt away. There is no excuse—none at all!—for failing to do this every day. Like an animal, or a small child, I should rest when I am tired or feel sick. I should have been doing so all along.