I am sick. I have the flu. And I’m having a really hard time with this reality. This is that barely lift your head up, body chills, aches, and pains, fever and night sweats, coughing up a lung, throwing up kind of flu. It ain’t no joke. And I’ve been battling with it for over a week now. When I went to my doctor on yesterday, I asked him if I could go to this meeting or if I could teach my two yoga classes over the weekend, and he just looked at me and politely said no. He said that I must stay home, rest, take the medicine he prescribed, eat probiotic foods, and drink lots of fluids (though he did give me permission to go to see The Black Panther as long as I wore a mask). He asked me if I needed a doctor’s note to be excused from my work and other obligations. I just laughed and politely said no. I laughed because despite being the sickest I’ve been in at least the last 15 years, I have not felt like I could completely let go of the work. I have not stopped working. I’ve called in to most meetings that I had scheduled. I’ve met deadlines and fulfilled requests. I’ve handled administrative duties (with support from my office administrator). I’ve worked remotely from my iPhone while laying in bed nearly hacking up a lung. Oh, get this: I even traveled to Atlanta for a business trip in the middle of the week, under the auspice that I didn’t think I had the flu. I nearly fell apart trying to make it back home to my bed. My doctor was trying to give me permission to stop working, and he and I both knew in that moment that I was–that I am–beyond needing permission. I need a serious intervention.
So many times this week I have wanted to cry because I’ve felt so bad. Not just physically bad–but emotionally. I have felt angry at myself for being sick. I have been disappointed that I haven’t been able to attend events that I’ve looked forward to for some time. I have been embarrassed to have to tell people that I can’t be there or I can’t do this. I have felt like a failure. And then at other times, I’ve felt lonely, depressed, and just sad. I don’t want to be sick. I am not choosing to slow down. But, my body physically will not allow me to continue to work at the same pace. Friends and colleagues keep telling me to rest and take good care and not to worry about the work. They assure me that everything will be OK in my absence. And, I want to trust in that. Yet it has been difficult for me to just take the time to allow my body to heal. As I reflect on that, I just think, how tragic. How tragic that I am even contemplating these issues.
I teach and practice yoga, and I am constantly sharing with others the importance of self-care practices and centering one’s own self and health. And, for a long time, that message has worked for me. Despite having a crazy busy life schedule, I’m generally zen, healthy, and balanced. The message has worked for me until it doesn’t. This bout with the flu has been a wake up call. A sort of flu intervention. When I tell others to “listen to your body,” do I really mean it? When I caution others against taking on too much and learning to say no, am I taking my own advice?
Having the flu has forced me to acknowledge that I have a hard time letting go and stepping away from work and obligations. Somehow I have convinced myself that I have to keep up with every email and every item on my to-do list. But this flu has intervened to say, nope, not happening. It has also shown me that life will go on while I am away caring for myself and my health. The meetings will happen. The events will take place. Deadlines will pass. Life will go on. And there is nothing I can do about it. Well, there is something that I can do. I can follow the doctor’s orders and feel better soon. And while I work on feeling better, I am learning that everything is gonna be alright.