I have the pleasure of working with Bill Gladstone, and today I received the following blog copy from him:
We know that marriages are supposed to be commitments that are not just for the good times. We know that the postal service is supposed to continue rain or snow. But we often fail to realize that we are committed to our own personal journeys in both sickness and in health. It is no fun being sick. I find it impossible to write or have in depth conversations when I am ill. I just have the flu and it will pass but my level of misery is real.
So all of you out there, if you are well, celebrate the joy of life. If you have the flu like me, hang in there. Tomorrow will be another day and the joy of healthy balanced life will return. I still fail to comprehend why our biological systems are so frail. Perhaps in the future we will find a way so that no one ever needs to be sick.
Of course, I immediately wrote back that he should get Tamiflu, stay in bed, drink fluids, and that if he wanted, I would bring him chicken soup – all the requisite advice and offers we give to friends who fall prey to the flu. What we don’t do often enough is to admonish our friends and loved ones, as well as ourselves, to avoid taking being healthy for granted; to stay at least as aware of our health as we are of celebrity gossip and other nonsense.
A few months ago, Labor Day to be exact, I returned from a visit to upstate NY coughing and sneezing – mostly coughing. Writing it off to exposure to unfamiliar flora and fauna, I told myself I was just experiencing NY allergies. Weeks went by, the cough grew worse, in fact debilitating, and I couldn’t seem to stay awake. Finally, in late October I was diagnosed with pneumonia.
A week off, and I came back to work, determined to catch up, putting in a seventy hour week. And I was actually surprised when at the end of that week my fever spiked yet again and my cough returned. Hadn’t I been on antibiotics and taken them religiously.
So, what’s the point of all this?
We have developed a quick-fix, give-me-a-pill-for-it mentality, and with that we no longer allow our bodies the necessary time to heal. When I was a child, the doctor still came to your house. If you were sick, he gave you cough medicine, aspirin, and sometimes an antibiotic. But what the doctor would really insist on was rest and fluids – for at least several days – emphasizing that the body needs time to heal itself.
These days, when we or our kids are sick we take our antibiotics and tell ourselves that twenty-four hours later we can and should get back to school or work. Instead of allowing for the natural healing process to ensue, we depend on pills. And that has expanded to depending on pills to enhance our moods, immediately cure our headaches, kick-start weight loss, and to tend to a myriad of other ailments we could otherwise attend to more naturally.
Modern medicine has its place. It works wonders. But when push comes to shove, it is the natural ability of the body to heal itself that we must honor.
So today I am reiterating to Bill the advice he gave me in October and November. Get lots of rest. Hydrate. Don’t push yourself back to work too soon. Give yourself time to truly heal. And for those of you out there, keep this in mind the next time the flu or a cold hits you, too. I know I will.