Thursday, January 19, 2012

The true power of stress- my wake up call

Monday evening, my cell phone rang.  Glancing at the screen, I knew it was my friend T.  I was expecting a lighthearted chat or to hear her vent about her husband.  When her voice came over the line, I was shocked. She was asking me to take her to the hospital, and she sounded bad. I grabbed my jacket and slipped on my shoes, argued for a 10 seconds with my husband about which of us should go, and ran, literally out the door.  A few minutes and several broken traffic laws later, I was admitted to her house by her three year old son.

She was in obvious pain.  Her left arm and leg were not responding.  A few minutes later, her husband and I had wrestled her into the car, and I literally burned rubber on their steep driveway to get out.  The first few minutes at the hospital were chaotic, so much so that I left the car running and the keys in the ignition.  Ruling out a heart attack, we settled in for a long night of tests and questions. Next ruled out chest infection, stroke and a few other things. I was scared for my friend, for her children and for mother.  She was scared, doctors were concerned, and we knew very little.  Twelve long, uncomfortable and frightening hours later, I delivered on my promise to her son: I brought his mommy home and well; the reward was a blinding smile from him.  The whole incident was chalked up to the physiological results of stress. It took all of Tuesday to get everybody back on schedule, settled down and things sorted out, but for me, it's been a wake up call.

This whole experience reminded me of few things.  First, stress can and does kill. We all have it in various measure. We all have different levels of tolerance, and we all need help from time to time. Second, learning to actively and safely deal with stress is a life skill we all need. A support system, coping mechanisms and and a desire to help oneself can mean the difference between a bad day and a life threatening physical reaction. Third, love comes in many forms. Monday night, holding a hand taped up with intravenous equipment, wiping tears, even dealing with urine samples, answering questions, reassuring people and simply sitting in an exam room for hours ended up being the only way I could show my friend and her family how much I love them.  My husband showed his by staying with our children, texting and calling for updates and even skipping out on work the next morning (with factory reps from England calling to ask him to deal with their problems while he was dropping our son off at school).  My son showed his by sending his healing energy.  My friend's mother, showed hers by smothering us both with kisses when we walked in the door.

If stress is affecting you physically, please consider making lifestyle changes or learning about coping techniques.  We can't avoid stress, but we can chose to take control of how it makes us feel.  For your sake, and the sake of every person who cares for you.  I'm looking into stress relief classes for my friend, and I'm considering going myself.  I'm also going to try harder to get into better physical shape, now that I realize how hard all of this was on it.  I'm sure you'll hear more about all of this, and I will certainly be sharing the coping strategies my friend and I explore.

Love and blessings.

On a related note, for those of you who know Stacy Evans or read her blog, her husband is in the hospital again with chest pain.  Your thoughts, prayers and well wishes would be greatly appreciated for the family.

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