Woman sick at home with the flu
March 9, 2018 | by Susan Baumgaertel MD

Just like many of my patients had been experiencing, it hit instantly. It was Friday night, I was out to dinner at a nice French restaurant with my husband and was sincerely enjoying the cassoulet, when towards the end of the meal I just didn’t feel well. Upon arriving home, it was clear I was getting sick. Influenza hit me like a freight train…bam!

That was two weeks ago. I had been trying to crawl back to work in bits, timidly gearing up for my call weekend duties (what rotten timing), and finally was even able to go out for a short walk in the sunshine today to search for early spring flowers. It is now my opinion that one should get sick to feel well. Hear me out.

Appreciating Wellness

Influenza has this nasty habit of completely interfering with normal brain function. This is in addition to the physical body just falling apart at the same time. The whole situation sets up a personal vulnerability that is overpowering. Yet, strangely, at a time when personal care seems to go out the window, it is just that – personal care – which is suddenly present at every waking moment. Suddenly, work and home duties fade into the background, and there is plenty of time and space for focusing on self-care.

Hot water actually has a taste and texture. It feels nourishing. It soothes. The smell of peanut butter is amazing – strong, lingering, salivating. A slice of Honeycrisp apple is incredibly tart and tangy. Sunbeams are amazing to nap in…especially with a cat. Sleep is heavenly.

Allow Yourself to Rest

What is even more fascinating is that once I edged back into work mode (and mommy mode and wife mode), I started to feel a sense of guilt for taking time for myself. How absurd! Oh, how quickly the background duties came forth into bright light again. It took very deliberate and conscious awareness to parse out bits of time in my workday to put my feet up and drink tea, and close my eyes for a few minutes to rest. Acupuncture was a life saver, and how lucky am I to have my very own acupuncturist working at my side. I truly appreciate how it really does “take a village” to heal and be well.

Prioritize Self-Care

My lesson learned was to make time for myself during illness, but, even more importantly, to make time for self-care when I am well. Wellness is a goal all of us need to keep at front and center. Every single day.