Fair warning: this post is probably going to tell you something that you do not want to do.
Military spouses, in general, have a number of common characteristics. They’re tough, resourceful, and creative. They are flexible, caring, and know how to get things done. They are great at caring for their families and friends, and they are less-than-great at taking care of themselves.
When we moved this summer, I promised myself this would be the duty station where I developed a relationship with a single medical care provider, kept up on all my check-ups, took my medicine, and generally took care of myself. I promised myself that two duty stations ago, too, and had a moderate amount of success. I was determined to do even better this time.
We’ve been here six months, and so far the results are pretty poor. I have been to a regular doctor’s appointment once, to get my medicines renewed, and I’ve been to the ER once (not my fault, they just don’t book appointments very well here and they send everyone to the ER.) That was until last week.
Two weeks ago, I got a migraine. I am very fortunate that I only get a few migraines a year, they are short and respond well to over-the-counter medicine, ice packs and sleep. Usually, that is. This time, it came, and never really went away. It would get a little better, and then a little worse, but it never really went away. For days… Somewhere around day four, I considered going to the doctor, but between sick kids and life, it just seemed so inconvenient. Plus, I didn’t want to be a whiner. In some sort of complex martyr syndrome, I was waiting for my husband or my kids to insist that I go to medical. Come to around day ten, and I was exhausted by this headache. Plus, I had this pain in my shoulder that was moving around, and up my neck and down my arm. Darn it, I thought, I guess I’m really going to have to go to medical.
Of course, it was the weekend when I made this decision. On Monday morning, I called, explained my symptoms, and was given an appointment for the following day. (Whoever made this system clearly doesn’t get sickness, which is odd for medical folks, but I digress…) By noon, I had convinced myself that I was having a heart attack and went to the ER.
Thankfully, no sign of a heart attack, but I was given a shot of something to ease the pain and sent home to come back the next day. The doctor, once I finally saw him, was genuinely concerned, examined me thoroughly, ordered a variety of tests and consults, and gave me some lovely medicines. Within two days, I was able to go an entire day without taking any medicine at all. While this headache is still nagging somewhere inside my head, it has subsided enough that I can function all the way until a normal bedtime.
What is the point of this long story? Maybe I should have gone to the doctor’s office sooner. Maybe I should take care of myself. Maybe I should consider that my health is important to me, and it is also important to my family. Generally, the point is that I need to take care of myself, and I know that I am not alone. Parents often take great care of their families and neglect themselves. Add a crazy military lifestyle, with a constantly changing PCMs and inconvenient medical schedules, and sometimes it seems easier to just skip out on keeping up with your own needs.
Military spouses have just as much (and possibly more) need to keep themselves healthy. They can’t be a strong partner, parent, or friend when they are sick. Unpreventable medical problems are common enough, don’t make things worse by not dealing with preventable issues.
When was the last time you saw your doctor? Had an eye exam? Had your teeth cleaned? Did whatever regular testing is appropriate for your age and gender? Make a list and on Monday morning, call and make those appointments.
I mean it.