There are a number of reasons why Mum’s don’t have time for themselves…the baby needs you, you are exhausted, you are running around to every after school activity imaginable etc. But recently I learnt a very valuable lesson.
But to tell you why I need to go back a bit….back when I was a carefree girl that had all the time in the world, I was diagnosed with a breast lump at the age of 18. The lump grew quickly and it was decided that the best option was to have it removed. Almost a year to the day, two more lumps appeared, and so I went through the same process of having them removed, but this time they took out a large chunk of tissue around the area to try and prevent anymore coming back.
The scar tissue that formed in its place was rigid and horrible. It was likened to trying to put a knife through a brick compared to butter. Over the years it gave me trouble and in 2005 I became ill when I actually tore it lifting a piece of Ikea furniture, which had me off work for weeks. Whilst I found it was restrictive, I was still able to do most things and loved doing Pilates once a week which I found really helped. Fast forward 9 years since we moved to Sydney and three kids later…..I haven’t done Pilates properly since I left the UK. I did a couple of classes when my eldest was six months old but never went back. Something else always had to be done, or to be perfectly honest by the time 7pm came around to go to an evening class, I was (and still am) so tired I couldn’t be bothered. I really wish I had.
A few weeks ago I woke up one Sunday and mentioned to my husband that my shoulder and arm was sore…he happened to go away on business the next day. By the Tuesday morning I couldn’t lift my arm more than an inch for my body in any direction. Driving was a challenge and as it was my right hand I was pretty much unable to do anything. I was so lucky that a mother of one of my daughter’s friends is a fantastic physio and able to see me immediately.
What has been uncovered since that initial day still astonishes me. It turned out that my arm was referred pain…from the scar tissue from my breast surgery. That tissue that I had been so careful not to injure, had managed to pull my ribs out of place and from this the snowball began. My ribs being out of place meant that my posture had totally changed. I compensated in every way imaginable. Even to the point that my breathing has changed, as my diaphragm on the right side is all out of whack. I shallow breathe which also explains a lot! Over the past few years I have become dizzy and light headed at the washing line or unloading the shopping, the room will suddenly go black and I have to grab onto something to steady myself and now it makes sense. I always put it down to low iron levels and blood pressure, but had no idea what I was actually dealing with. I actually felt quite self-conscious and weak at times as I would try and do fitness groups with friends only to pull out because I was dizzy and felt sick…I felt so happy when my physio said it is no wonder you can’t do cardio, you aren’t breathing in the right place!
So I recently started rehab Pilates and will have to take it slowly, in conjunction with physio that I am doing as well. It is going to be a long road to undo all of 14 years of injury, but I know I can do it. If any of our medical problems (and we have had many) over the past few years has taught me, this is curable, fixable, it will take a lot of work and be painful but I am doing just fine. I sometimes wonder if I had continued with Pilates or if my surgeon had told me to have physio after my surgeries, if this injury would have occurred. But hindsight is just that…wasted time thinking what if instead of dealing with the here and now.
I am grateful that this has happened to show that I really do need to make time for me and look after myself, not feel that I am being selfish about it or ignoring my children’s needs. Making sure you can be the best mum you can be also means looking after you. Not only for the physical side, but also for my mental and emotional state. I truly believe that you need to have time away from your kids in order to be a better mother. Whether that is having a bath on your own, reading a good book, going out with the girls or doing some exercise. I always feel refreshed and that I can give then more when I have had a chance just to be me, not a wife, not a mother, just me.