Saturday, November 13, 2021

The Fall's Gonna Kill You

Many of my readers know that I am enamored with The West Wing, and all that it teaches its viewers.  In the episode "The Fall's Gonna Kill You," the staff is dealing with the newfound knowledge of the President's multiple sclerosis diagnosis and all of the repercussions involved in such.

When pondering how to present today's blog post, this episode, especially its title, kept coming to mind.  Allow me to explain.

As most of you know, I bought a college consulting firm almost two years ago, and I've served as the CEO as well as a counselor since this buy out.  

I absolutely love what I do.  I love the potential of my students.  I love their honest enthusiasm, and I love making lasting connections with families as they walk through this critical time in their lives.  This is what I made to do.

And yet, in doing all of the work that I love, in addition to parenting (oh yeah, those five critters), I lost sight of myself.  I worked too much, I slept too little, and I forgot (or chose not to) ask for enough help. 

I began to feel exhausted--all the time, which I chalked up to "busy season" as college application deadlines approached.  Finally, when trying to put my children to bed, I realized I could not climb the stairs without totally losing my breath.  This seemed abnormal.

Yet, still, I attributed it to being tired and stressed. I told myself to push through.  

Finally, as my team had successfully seen most of our students through a majority of their admission deadlines, I deemed it an appropriate time to see a doctor.  After a chest x-ray, I was diagnosed with pneumonia in both lungs, but my doctor still felt as if something wasn't right.

She asked me to do a D-Dimer test, which tests blood clotting.  Needless to say, I failed the test, and I ended up in the ER when my chest pain began to shoot through my chest, over my shoulder, and down my back.

Some very good friends counseled me to actually go to the ER (because I thought, maybe I'm just being dramatic.  This can wait.) They very kindly, but assuredly, told me I was not fine and this demanded immediate attention.  I am so thankful for these friends who truly may have saved my life by demanding I seek medical care immediately. 

As we sat in the ER, people next to me vomited, moaned, and complained about the long waits.  I realized what sacrifices health care providers are making every day (and every long night) to help as many people as possible, including me.

After much testing and lots of blood draws (ouch), I was told that I had two blood clots in my lungs.  Whoa.  Doctors immediately admitted me and started tests to determine the damage to my heart.

Luckily, no damage was done to my heart--hallelujah!  But I needed to start blood thinners immediately.  As I did, doctors told that me we may never know the true cause of this, but it may be because of the hormones left over from my quintuplet pregnancy (what a parting gift), or that I was too sedentary (hello laptop time) or perhaps I just ignored the warning signs too long (stupid, stupid, stupid).

In short, some of this was caused by nature, but as I've wrestled with my diagnosis and near death experience, I realize that some of this was self inflicted.

My sense of work-life balance means working on my laptop while watching a tv show.  Yeesh, right?

Funny, but not funny.  What a wake up call for me. 

This moment has been a wake up call for me to really dig deep and think about how I can better organize my life to take time for each important aspect separately (and not let it bleed--pardon the reference--into each other).   I've already come up with some great ideas and I'm looking forward to implementing them when I go back to work on Monday.

All of this to say, to working parents, please know your limits.  Don't ignore your health and please keep your body active.  That's really where stress relief and health come together.  

I want to thank my friends who have come together to support my family during this challenging time.  My staff, my workout gals, even my accountant has stepped up and brought meals and hugs for the woman who forgot her limits.  

I'm not superwoman and rest is not one of those four-letter words.  I'm especially thankful this November for friends, for health, and for a new mindset of taking care of myself as I lookout for my family, friends, and clients.

Updated photos of my (not so) babies anymore:

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