This past week I spent several hours with my mother (who turns 98 in 2 weeks) in less than optimal circumstances: waiting, interminably, in a doctor’s office.
Even in a pleasant location, our visits can be trying. Mom sees only from the periphery of her eyes; straight on, everything is a black blur. And lately she hears nothing at all. Conversation quickly degenerates into futile shouting on my part, sulking and withdrawal on hers.
I often feel that we’re both just waiting for her to die.
I end up just holding her hand until she takes a nap, or cutting the visit short and waving in her face so she’ll know I’m leaving. She used to follow me to the door of her assisted living home, as if I’d take her away with me. These days it’s hard for her to get out of the chair without falling. Hence, the visit to the doctor.
But as we sat in the virtually empty waiting room for three hours, there was no escaping. I watched various staff members leave for lunch, and asked the desk if I could take her to get something to eat and come right back. “Oh, no,” I was told. “The doctor will be right with her.”
Mom, in her silent world, went through many moods, over and over. She slumped despondently in a chair. Then she’d get a determined look on her face and would climb upright using her cane. The first time she headed for the door, she happened to push the side that was locked. She gave a huge sigh and said, “So I’m trapped in here.”
She walked to various windows and looked out, touching the panes as if they would dissolve. She came back to different chairs to sit. Once she even turned the chair around to face the window.
I do Qigong when I have to wait for any length of time. It calms me down and helps me draw on reserves of patience. It also embarrasses my mother. Usually she makes some sarcastic remark. This time she was so lost and dispirited, she just ignored me.
I think that, more than anything, cracked my heart open and flooded it with compassion — where I had felt only resentment and anger and “duty” for so long. I began to feel what it must be like to be her: still somewhat cognitive, but unable to communicate. Still able to get around, but with no idea where she is or where she’s going. Still very, very angry, but unwilling to let go.
It was a very different feeling, looking at her as a lovable being rather than a burden.
I can’t say this feeling will last, but now I know how to reach down into myself and find it again.
One bit of good news: the doctor — when we finally saw him — noticed that her ears are impacted with wax. So we have an appointment with an ear doctor to clean them out. (I hope we don’t have to wait too long!) Maybe she’ll get some hearing back and can come back to the world.
For this moment I will shed my anger …
With all the demands of modern life and the tug between work and home life, it’s no wonder many of us get to the point where we feel like we can’t do it anymore. Burnout is not just psychologically debilitating; if it isn’t addressed, it can lead to serious physical complaints.
But what if — like most of us — you can’t just drop everything and take a vacation when the stress load gets too high?
Here’s what an increasing number of healthcare professionals are doing to keep themselves healthy. They call for a “Code Lavender.”
As related in the Huffington Post, Code Lavender is a “holistic care rapid response” for doctors, nurses and hospital staff. A team of Reiki practitioners, massage therapists and other holistic practitioners is dispatched to help soothe, support and restore them when they’ve been facing exhausting or daunting circumstances.
For doctors, that may be when they’ve had a particularly grueling stint in the ER. Your causes for stress burnout may seem less dramatic, but the impact on your body, mind and spirit is just as serious. Here’s just a partial list of burnout symptoms:
As one Code Lavender practitioner explained it, “You have to take care of your own physical and emotional needs so when you arrive at work, you have something to give. And when you come home, you have something left to give your loved ones.”
Left unaddressed, your stress level builds, and you risk serious physical complications. Your body will find a way to make you stop and pay attention.
Before you get to that point, initiate your own Code Lavender program. Make time for de-stressing, and make it a part of your regular schedule — daily, weekly, monthly, however it works best for you. Here are some tried-and-true holistic methods to relax deeply, lower your cortisol levels and restore your spirit:
I can help you with the first three methods, and refer you to highly recommended practitioners for the rest. Please get in touch with me at 404-406-5204 or by email to begin your own customized Code Lavender program.
Christin Whittington is a practitioner of energy medicine – helping people restore balance in their bodies, their health and their lives using a combination of Reiki, Reflexology, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Qi Gong and herbal medicine.