If you follow me on Instagram or the blog’s Facebook page you already know that things have been rather stressful in our house. Last week’s post discusses our plumbing issues in our rental house (you can read that post here). This past weekend was full of stress as well. Our dog, Bexar (pronounced bear) is 10 and was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease a few years ago. He also has an enlarged heart and liver and has a heart murmur; all caused by the Cushing’s. We have his condition under control with medication and he has an amazing quality of life all things considered. He was never a high energy dog, so the diagnosis hasn’t really hindered him very much. He coughs when he gets too worked up, but that is really the only symptom we see with him.
Doggo Health Scare
On Friday Bexar was very sick. He had horrible diarrhea and was vomiting. We were able to get him to see his regular vet within a couple of hours. Our boys’ vet is amazing, and we all love her so much and we will miss her while she is on maternity leave. She ran a lot of tests on him just to make sure there wasn’t anything more nefarious causing his symptoms. Fortunately, everything came up clear except for his stool sample. He was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal infection and was prescribed an antibiotic, a probiotic and was given an anti-nausea shot before we headed home.
Health Scare Part 2
Bexar did very well on Saturday. He was just chilling in the living room all day recuperating from all the stress the day before. However, Sunday he was back to being sick. We called his regular vet clinic and his vet had just started maternity leave. We were just wondering if the vet on call would consider that Bexar just isn’t reacting well to the antibiotic. His vomit on Sunday was different than before. It was a frothy white this time around.
Instead, they turned us away and it was communicated to us that “there wasn’t anything more they could do for Bexar” and that he needed to be taken to an emergency clinic. Well, that had the entire house really upset and scared that Bexar was at death’s door. Thankfully, Bexar already sees a specialist at a local pet hospital, and they have an emergency clinic on the weekends. So, we drove him over there to be seen.
Getting to the ER
We finally made it to the emergency clinic and got Bexar checked in. A vet tech took him in the back to triage him after asking about his symptoms. Fortunately, he was not critical. The downside to Bexar not being in critical condition was that we had to sit and wait to be seen by the on-call vet. When we checked in, the wait was two hours. But, a couple critical patients came in and bumped Bexar down the line to be seen. We ended up sitting at the clinic for five hours.
Getting a Diagnosis
Five o’clock rolls in (five and a half hours after checking in) and we are finally called into the back to be seen by the vet. We are all on edge just waiting to be told the worst. The vet comes into the room and asked about the symptoms Bexar was experiencing. She then comforted us and let us know that while Bexar is sick, that he should be able to recover rather quickly. The vet also confirmed our suspicions that he just did not react well to the antibiotics he was prescribed. She also said that while the medication he was given was not an overdose, it was still quite a large dose for him and wanted him off it completely.
A weight was lifted off all our shoulders in an instant. My dad wanted to confirm with the vet that Bexar would be coming home with us that night because, “we were all under the impression that we would have to make a very difficult decision this evening”. The vet reassured us yet again that Bexar would recover from the infection just fine and would be back to his normal in a few days’ time.
Relief and Frustration
We were all so happy to know that Bexar would be okay. But, we were also so frustrated because the on-call vet at his regular clinic would not even see Bexar for a follow-up to either confirm our assumption or their own before sending us to the emergency clinic. We are also confused about the dosage of the antibiotic and why it was so high. We have had issues with the clinic in the past where the vet wrote a prescription for a certain dose and then a tech or administrative person sent the WRONG dose to the pharmacy to be filled. We were glad that we knew the proper dose beforehand because if we had given him the wrong dose, it would have killed him. They also sent it to the wrong pharmacy. So, we are not sure if this was another similar error or not.
Even with the issues we have had with this clinic, we really do love a lot of the people who work there. But, we have become so paranoid about things and we know we have gotten on all their nerves by asking a thousand questions repeatedly. We just feel like we can’t be too careful anymore.
On the Mend
As of Tuesday, Bexar was back to his usual self. He is getting up easier and his tail is wagging nonstop. He was even playing with his toys Tuesday afternoon. We are trying to keep him low-key and resting, but we can’t control everything with him.
Thinking about Stress and its Aftermath
Now, the rest of the family is trying to recuperate from the whole weekend as well. I do not handle stress very well. Well, let me rephrase that. I handle stressful situations quite well actually. But once everything calms down, my body is a wreck. High stress affects the rest of my family as well. These past few weeks had me thinking about what stress does to our bodies. I said in my previous post that the last high stress situation we were in probably affected my cycle and my and hubby’s chances of conceiving last month. But what else could it affect?
Stress and the Average Person
According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can affect all aspects of your life. They have grouped symptoms into physical, mood, and behavior. Physically, stress can cause headache, upset stomach, chest pain, muscle pain, lowered libido, and sleep problems. Stress can affect your mood by triggering anxiety, restlessness, inability to focus, depression and irritability. Finally, stress can negatively affect your behavior. Stressed individuals may exercise less, eat too much or too little, take on unhealthy habits such as smoking or consuming excess alcohol, and even withdraw from all social connections (Mayo Clinic, 2019).
Stress and the Person with Chronic Illness
Having any type of chronic illness can put a lot of stress on a person. With some conditions people will need to go to a doctor or some kind of medical professional regularly. Some may even have to go to a mental health professional regularly just to help cope with a diagnosis and day to day life with chronic illness. But, stressful situations can push people with chronic illness to a physical breaking point.
Those with chronic illness will experience the same symptoms as those who do not have chronic illness. The difference is those with chronic illness may be affected more than others. For example, I have been dealing with chronic fatigue and pain for many years. My husband does not have a chronic illness. When we are in stressful situations he is usually able to bounce back from them rather quickly.
Most of the time a good night’s sleep and a date night at the movie theater and he is all set. As for me, I need a couple of days to recuperate. When he gets highly stressed, he can feel frustrated, sad, or angry sometimes. For me, I feel it physically. It usually happens after a highly stressful situation has ended. My arms start to get heavy and I become very weak. Then, I can get the shakes throughout my entire body. When I get to that point, I have to lay down.
Some people with chronic illness react the same way I do, others have worse reactions to stress. This is why it is so important to keep it under control.
How to Relieve Stress
Relieving stress can be different for everyone. But, it is important to allow yourself the time to unwind regularly. If you have a chronic illness, it may be necessary to have a little “me time” every day to be sure you are taking care of yourself properly. There are so many ways to relieve stress, but I have a list of my favorite ways down below.
Take a day and get your hair done. You might be due for a trim or color touch-up anyway. Or, you just go in for a good wash and blowout. This is just something to help you feel better about yourself. And, most hairstylists are psychologists in disguise! Seriously, they do not get enough credit. I have had many a venting session with my hairstylist. I end up leaving my appointment looking and feeling so much better!
If your budget does not allow you to go out to be pampered, you can always buy some inexpensive hair or face masks and put them on while you are in comfy clothes. You get additional self-care points if you are also watching your favorite show or movie while the mask sets. Or, give yourself a pedicure. Or, better yet, ask your sweetheart to do it for you and maybe even get a foot massage out of it! 😉
Blast Some Tunes!
I have read so many articles discussing how listening to music can help reduce stress. Some articles recommend a certain kind of music, but I honestly don’t think it matters. If you still have a lot of desk work to do, have the music player on your computer working and listen to whatever makes you happy. If you have housework to do, turn up the volume and dance around while you are getting your work done. It might help you get through your work more quickly, or at the very least make the time go by quicker. If you dance to your music, you may even burn extra calories! Or, just hang out on the couch or your bed and just tune the world out and listen to your favorite songs for a few minutes.
There are so many blog posts and articles that encourage you to exercise in order to reduce stress. I agree that it helps. Working out does help increase endorphins and reduce cortisol and just gives you a better mood. When those hormones are regulated, it helps reduce any damage those increased hormones might do to your body.
Join a Team
If you are athletic or have an interest in a sport, join a team! You could sign up to be part of a bowling or softball league or even sign up for dance or martial arts lessons. These are great ways for you to reduce some stress (and even get to let out some anger by hitting things!) and you get the chance to connect with others. If you make a couple of friends, they can help keep you accountable and make sure you make it to practice regularly. Taking time for yourself is hard for a lot of people, so having an accountability buddy can help you keep your self-care routine and keep your stress in check.
Take on a Hobby
Building or creating something is a great way to reduce stress. I LOVE to bake, so when I am stressed, I find myself in the kitchen baking something. If you do not have any hobbies currently, take a look at local community centers for classes in pottery, painting, knitting, etc. You can sign up for introductory classes and see if you like it! Taking time in a hobby lets you unwind from a hard day/week and lets your mind just focus your project rather than whatever else is going on in the world. Then, with most hobbies you have a finished product that you are proud of to keep in your house or share with others.
Unplug From Social Media
Social media seems to be a huge stressor for a lot of people. People can get stressed out by the news while others are getting stressed or down by comparing themselves to others. I am very guilty of that myself. I see other people I went to school with who are accomplishing things that I wish I was able to accomplish, and I get down on myself for not doing so. Or I see people on Instagram appearing to be living their best lives by basically being on vacations 24/7 or women who can eat whatever they want while still maintaining a size 4 body and I can get really depressed. I can’t help but compare myself to others all the time. This is something I need to work on.
Social media causes people to compare themselves constantly and it is unhealthy. So, it is good to take periodic breaks where you do not open a single social media app on your phone or computer for a couple of days at a time. When you are no longer worried about what other people are doing or whether your post gets likes or not, you get the opportunity to focus on what is important in your life. That’s when I can look at my life and really see how lucky I am. I can also get the perspective to realize that I have a lot of good things in my life and I have accomplished a lot.
People do not post a lot of bad things on their social media. Instagram especially is full of posts that aren’t very transparent. The photos are gorgeous, but a lot of the time do not represent the person’s real life. We forget that a lot. So, it is good to be able to walk away from it for a while. I know a lot of people who did social media detoxes and found their stress levels to be reduced greatly.
Take a day where you do not leave the house at all. Unplug your phone or put it on silent and just forget about the outside world. If the TV is on, be sure it is your favorite shows or movies. I would even avoid commercials, so plug in DVDs all day. Be sure your fridge is packed with all your favorite foods and just hang out in your pj’s all day. There is something so magical about being a hermit occasionally. It gives you the opportunity to just be alone and recharge. After days like this, I feel so much better and feel like I can take on the world!
Journaling is a great way for you to write down the day’s events and process what went on during the day. You can write about being sad or upset about a situation because journals do not judge. It might help you put your thoughts together if you ever do want to share your feelings with a friend or loved one as well. If not, it is just a great way to get your thoughts out so you can move on from a hard situation. Then, later you can look back and reflect on that time and see how things might have changed.
I am very bad at journaling. Growing up my parents encouraged me to journal so I could write down my experiences while growing up. I was a military brat and we moved a lot and my parents thought journaling would help me cope with moving so much. I would get a new journal and I would write in it for about a week and then never open that journal again. When we were going through our stuff before selling the house we lived in for 10 years, I found about 15 unfinished journals that I had collected over the years.
I have started a five-year one line a day journal. It was started on January 1st of this year, and I have filled in every day so far this year. I am actually very proud of myself. The single line for the day doesn’t really allow you to work through your thoughts and feelings for the day, but it does give you a sense of accomplishment to keep a journal like this and might still reduce stress a little bit. It is worth a shot!
Taking the time to sit in prayer can be very relaxing. When I am stressed I find myself praying for guidance on how to handle the situation. There is something calming about airing all of my troubles to God. I know everything is in His hands. So, when I get the chance to talk to him I feel the stress just leave my body. My problems might not have been fixed right then and there, but it is always comforting to know that He is there and will never fail me.
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”Psalm 55:22 (NIV)
This Week’s Conclusion
Stress is a normal part of life. Every single person will experience times where their stress level is higher than normal. It is very important to find ways to reduce stress. There are so many more ways to reduce stress than what I listed, so be sure you find something that works for you!
Question of the Week
What do you do to reduce stress?
Mayo Clinic. (2019, April 4). How stress affects your body and behavior. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987