Each morning you wake, usually in response to the cries of a child or to the buzzing of an alarm. As you bound out of bed, you anticipate the day that lies ahead of you. If you are like many moms, most, if not all, of your day will be spent tending to the needs of others.
Whether it's our own children or someone else's, or our bosses, our employees, or our spouses, most of us spend the majority of our days focusing on everyone but ourselves. Most moms are guilty of prioritizing everyone but themselves. I was no exception. From the moment I woke until the moment my head hit the pillow each night, my entire focus was on my family.
From preparing perfect meals, to creating the perfect, comfortable home to hosting the perfect playdate or party, I wanted only the best for my family, and I stopped at nothing to make that happen. When it comes to the health of my children, I am just as tenacious. My children have never missed a well-vist or a routine dental appointment, and if either of my daughters is sick, I am on the phone in a nanosecond scheduling a sick visit with the pediatrician.
My routine appointments, however, were a different story. I kept telling myself that I'd call tomorrow. But tomorrow came and went, and soon tomorrow turned into next month. Eventually, next month turned into next year. Admit it. You've done the same thing. We all have. I soon realized that a year had passed since I promised myself that I'd call to schedule my physical or a dental cleaning. A year? Impossible. But the calendar doesn't lie.
It wasn't until I awoke one morning almost 2 years ago with a rapid heart rate that landed me in the emergency room at Jersey Shore University Medical Center when I realized it was time to prioritize me and my health. I was admitted for testing and observation. Over the course of the next 2 days, I underwent a battery of tests including an EKG, and echocardiogram, a renal ultrasound, and full blood work. My vitals were monitored around the clock, and it soon became evident that I had high blood pressure. I wondered when exactly did that sneak up on me. Oh, maybe during the year or so that I procrastinated making my appointment for a physical.
Despite the occasional needle and the numerous yet non-invasive procedures, I felt pampered. It was a complete role reversal as someone was finally taking care of me. And according to my attending physician, the pampering was long overdue. I was wearing myself down. The demands of motherhood were taking their toll on me and causing me a great deal of unnecessary stress. I obeyed the doctor's orders and relaxed while I waited for the results of my tests.
On the day of my discharge, my attending physician and cardiologist met with me to review my test results. Lucky for me, my health problems could easily be recitified with some effort and determination on my part. I learned that I had high cholesterol and high blood pressure, 2 of the 7 risk factors for heart disease. As scared as I was to learn the truth, I was also determined to improve my health for me and for my family.
I was put on a strict diet and exercise regimen as well as several prescription medications to aid in bringing my cholesterol and blood pressure within normal ranges. Six months after my discharge, my cholesterol had vastly improved, and my blood pressure was holding steady at 130/75. But most importantly, I was taking care of myself and my health. I was prioritizing ME.
Today, a little over 2 years after that experience, I am still exercising regularly, following a strict diet, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I am truly grateful that my wakeup call was a rapid heart beat and not a heart attack. I no longer feel guilty for taking time to see my general physician once a year and my cardiologist and dentist every 6 months. Regular office visits and routine tests are important for our overall well-being and must become a priority for all mothers. After all, if we don't take care of ourselves, how can we take care of anyone else?