Often, self-care is about incorporating small moments of grace into an average, ordinary day in order to slow down and remember why you work so hard. Sometimes those small moments of grace need to give way to longer, more intense experiences – I often find that to be the case after finishing a large scale project that has taken weeks or even months to complete.

And then there are days like these.

It must be spring, as the hood of every car I see is coated in sticky yellow pollen, which brings out quite an array of allergy symptoms. I was fortunate that I wasn’t plagued by hay fever and other allergy mess growing up, but as I’ve entered my second act, that’s changed. Usually, my symptoms are mild, but this year I’ve been hit by a perfect storm. You see, I have an odd condition that causes scar tissue to grow in my windpipe. While not life-threatening, due to advances in medical science, it’s something I have to keep an eye on and occasionally, have surgery to repair. (Scar tissue always comes back, so it’s not a “one and done” sort of thing – I’ve had this surgery done probably close to a dozen times since being diagnosed in 1998.) This time, I waited longer than I should have and, as a result, the allergies are really doing a number on me.

Since my windpipe is constricted, I can’t draw a full, deep breath. Add nasal mess to that and it gets nasty. Add to that the fact that scar tissue is smooth, making it harder to cough things up and truly clear my throat and it’s just miserable. It’s difficult to talk clearly since my airway isn’t wide-open clear, I’m hoarse, and I get tired so very, very easily since I’m not getting the necessary amount of air.

The good part of all this is that surgery is scheduled for next week. The bad part is that it isn’t scheduled until next week.

So what’s a Diva to do?

Well, this is where all the lessons learned about self-care turn into an essay exam. I’ve written about this before, but listen to me, Divas. When you get sick like this, it’s for real. Pretending that it isn’t will leave you (literally) gasping in a corner.

Liquids are your friend. Especially water and plenty of soothing drinks like hot tea with honey. Keep the teapot rinsed out and ready to go.

Slow down your pace. Right now, I can’t walk the level, paved half-mile path in town without gulping for air like a landed fish. And that’s okay. You’ve got nothing to prove to anyone, so don’t. If you’re not contagious (I’m not), work if you can, but accept that it’s going to be harder than usual to do what you usually do without a second thought.

Prioritize. Not everything is going to get done on your usual schedule. Make the “to do” list, then start ranking the tasks. Then move at least one to another day. I’m not being lazy; I literally can’t breathe well. Breathing is a “major life activity” under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Completing spreadsheet formulae is not. Take care of yourself now and you’ll spring back quickly. Demand that you ignore your body’s desire to breathe and you’ll be sicker, longer.

Hunker down. People will want to help you out – allow them to do so, but feel no need to stir from your house and your cozy (and clean!) loungewear. You’re sick; be sick. Lay in a supply of food to tempt your (probably puny) appetite. Or have it delivered – even in my part of the Sticks, I can do that. By now, you probably know your go-tos. (Me, it’s won ton soup, animal crackers, and ginger ale. Comfort nursery school food. Your mileage may vary.)

If possible, also lay in a supply of things that are easy to pick up and put down when you get restless. When you can’t sleep, do something to occupy your brain. I put together my NCAA men’s basketball bracket (go, Boilermakers? Didn’t see that coming . . .), listened to music I enjoy, and worked in half-hour bursts on a jigsaw puzzle. (I just finished that and so help me, either it’s missing two pieces, or the cats swiped a couple when my back was turned before I kicked them out of the room!)

You’ve got this. And so do I.





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