Place the Mask on Yourself First

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"Should the loss of cabin pressure occur, oxygen masks will automatically drop...Place the mask on yourself first before assisting others." 


I never really thought about the power of these words until a MM group member brought it to my attention. After all, how many of us really listen to what those flight attendants say? I've been thinking about this message these past few days... 


Unfortunately, my dad's back in the hospital. His hip replacement surgery was done almost 3 weeks ago, but he developed an infection last week. So, I flew back here to take over the care support for my folks, since my sister had to go back to her home over 10 hours away. Tag-team. It's tough when we don't live near each other: 1 set of parents and 4 adult children all living in 5 different states.


The email messages I received from friends and MM groupies were perfect. All of them included notes of well wishes for my dad's health. And many sent reminders to me to care of myself: eat well, exercise, and try to get enough rest and sleep. This hits right to the center of one of my challenges in life.


I am a caregiver by nature. I nurture. I listen. I help. I care. I know many of you are the same way. But, too often, we end up working so hard to care for others that we put their health and happiness above ours. Deep down, it seems like the right thing to do. Unfortunately, it doesn't work well in the long run.


If our basic health needs are put at the bottom of our priorities, we end up paying a price. For me, it means more severe headaches, back pain, and less patience. If the worry, stress and fatigue really take over, my immune system crashes and I end up getting sick. When that happens, I'm not much good as a care giver! (Check out the post on 6/22/11). 


Yesterday, I woke up with nasty headache and it just didn't want to go away. I was having trouble listening and being patient. So, after visiting at the hospital in the morning, we skipped the "interesting" hospital food, went home and ate a healthy lunch. After that, I declared "time-out." I left my mom to do her own thing while I laid down in bed, simply closed my eyes and zoned out. When I got up, the headache was gone. I was just taking care of me. I placed the oxygen mask on my own face first.