For the past 5 days, I’ve not been feeling well: fever and headache for the first three days; stomachache for the first four days; and constant diarrhea, even now. I feel soo much better though. It’s not very often that I come down with a sickness, so this experience has been a learning lesson for me, which I’d like to share.
Here are 6 great things I learned while being sick:
1) Water water water boy
I read that our bodies are made up of 80% water, which goes to show just how much we rely on water to function. I just took another sip of water.
The first day I really started feeling under the weather was while I was on the train last Wednesday. It was stuffy because there were so many people and I was getting really hot and lightheaded. It was a strange feeling for me, and I felt like I was suffocating and really wanted to get off the train. Once I was able to take my first steps off the train, I almost felt like fainting and just wanted to sit on the floor and call the office to say I couldn’t go to school. I’m guessing this was probably the start of my fever.
But I immediately decided that I should start by going to the vending machine to get a bottle of water. As excessive as the vending machines are in Japan, they are really convenient and I was so appreciative that there was one within twenty feet of me. I took out my SUICA card and paid for the drink without much effort and drank the water like there was no tomorrow.
There was an instant feeling of relief as I felt the cool sensation flow down my body. I realized that I didn’t drink any water up to that point, so my body was dehydrated and that could have contributed to my lightheadedness.
To make a long story short, I kept drinking lots of lots of water throughout this sickness period to drain all of the toxins out of my body and am continuing to. It has been aiding my recovery just as much as the medicine for my diarrhea, if not more.
Main point: It shouldn’t take a sickness to realize the importance of staying hydrated. Get your servings in.
2) #2 is a great opportunity to meditate
WARNING: I realize that the following learning experience is pretty disgusting. If you have a lower tolerance for ‘shit,’ you can go straight to the last paragraph to get to the main point, no bullshit.
Since I was suffering from diarrhea every 2 hours on average, I’ve been spending a good chunk of time on the toilet and the stomach pain didn’t make it as pleasurable as usual, so I quickly changed focus and turned it into a meditation session.
I’d breathe deeply through my nose mentally saying “IN positivity” and exhale out of my mouth slowly saying “OUT toxin.” I found that it relaxed my body, it focused away from my physical discomfort, and my watered-down shit often went in sync with my exhalation and streamed out of me nicely.
I think that dropping a deuce and meditating is a very synchronizing combination because on a physical level, you are eliminating all of this waste from your body. On a mental level, meditating clears your mind from all stresses and demands. A physical and mental cleansing in one.
Main point: #2 time and meditation can be synchronizing because it involves a physical and mental clearing of ‘waste.’ Also, we are constantly connected to these external outlets around us (social media and anything online-related) that it becomes quite difficult to remove this connection from everything but ourselves so that we can spend time with ourselves for a moment. I often go to the bathroom with my phone and scroll down the FB newsfeed or watch some video, but being sick allowed me to leave it at my bedside and connect with myself on the seat. Try it if you have it in you. It’s worth it. But before you breathe too deeply, you might want to get the fan going first.
3) The great fortune of passing gas
2nd WARNING: I talked about diarrhea before. This next bit is a little diarrhea-related. But you have come for an extra treat. I will incorporate farts into learning lesson #3, or lack thereof. Are you starting to gag? It’s okay, go to the last paragraph to get it all in a nutshell.
For those brave souls reading everything up to this point, you know very well that I have diarrhea, which means that I can’t fart unless I go to the bathroom. That really sucks because if I do have to let one rip that means I have to find a bathroom, and if I can’t find a bathroom, the gas keeps building in my stomach. My stomach slowly starts protruding like a little African child that you see on one of those guilt-ridden-donation-based infomercials (did not mean to offend anyone).
This made me realize how beautiful farting is. It’s like, every time you let one out, it relieves a piece of tension that you were holding in your body. Sometimes it’s unpleasant for bystanders (I’m sorry, baby), but I am grateful for my ability to pass gas.
Now don’t send your farts to your girlfriend as if they’re gifts like I do sometimes. Don’t toot anywhere you please. It’s pretty rude and they smell terrible, but farting is normal. However, in your own private space, let them out and every time you fart, think of it like a little piece of stress being released and you feel a little lighter in spirit each time, as a result.
Main point: Passing gas is a natural action we let out everyday, and it really can put things into perspective when we express gratitude for very simple things we are able to do. You can think of it as a little air out of relief, just from the opposite end.
4) The benefits of solid rest
Congratulations, the grotesque has now come to rest.
Moving on. The day after my hot and lightheaded experience on the train, my stomach pains and runs also accompanied, so I decided to take the next day off from work. That was such a great idea. I went to the doctor and then rested all day. I think this day of rest and medicine definitely was a big day to my recovery because I allowed my body to relax, no strenuous activities, no lesson planning, no Japanese class, just rest.
For many people with very hectic schedules, far more hectic than mine, you make your calls, of course. I believe that if I had went to work that Thursday, I would have likely felt worse the next day, ended up taking the Friday off, which would have been a worse choice because I had school on Saturday for open classes where parents observed me teaching, and Friday I had classes that could refine my lessons. Thursday, I essentially had no formal classes, so it was an ideal day to take off.
Anyway, it’s not everyday that we’re sick. But, if we are, our bodies need more rest than usual. Give yourself that gift. However, for more practical purposes, make sure you’re giving yourself an adequate amount of rest to where you are able to operate at your highest. For some, they may not need the 8 recommended hours. Influential speaker and peak performance coach, Eric Thomas, says he sleeps from 9pm-3am everyday. That means he only gets 6 hours a day. That’s what he needs. Maybe he takes a power nap sometime in the day, but at night, he only allots himself 6 hours. Do what works for you to function at your peak performance level.
Main point: Figure out how much rest you need and base it on how you perform on those days. Does the recommended 8 hours work best for you? Just 6 hours? And if you are sick, listen to your body and respect it.
5) Having a good support system
Throughout this 5-day learning experience, my amazing girlfriend was so caring and supportive of me. When she had a late shift, she did my laundry while I was at work, she cooked me up healthy meals, sternly kept me from eating hot sauce and greasy foods, checked my body temperature and constantly reminded me while she was at work to check it, messaged me throughout my work day to see if I was alright and how my body temperature was doing, etc. Oh man, she is such an angel. I love you so much, little queen.
It is so wonderful to have that motherly figure wrapped in my cuddly romantic partner, especially as I am overseas living in my own place. She was the BIGGEST reason why I recovered so fast, not to mention that she took me to the doctor and translated for me while I spoke about my symptoms and relayed back to me what the doctor was saying. The doctor prescribed me some medicine for my stomach, but Kaori was the one and only who was by my side through it all. Bear in mind, that I don’t have cancer. It’s really not that serious. This was just a type of cold, but I am so grateful for her kindness and love. She is such a fantastic girlfriend.
Being sick lets me know how important having a good support system is. Having someone there when you feel at your lowest. We can’t do everything on our own. We can believe that we are made of steel. Until a day comes that we can do nothing but show our humanness. A romantic partner can be such a grounding companionship who loves us for our vulnerabilities, then supports and encourages us to push through.
Main point: Have a strong support system in place, even if it’s just one person. They can be a great soundboard for your ideas and encourage you when you are not in high spirits. If you are in a romantic relationship, learn to love his/her vulnerabilities and share yours. Be comfortable with trusting each other and showing your fragile side. The paradox here is that your bond will likely strengthen. Sometimes, one person who loves and believes in you is all you need to build bridges and cross them.
6) This too shall pass
My last lesson learned is that no matter if I just went to the toilet for the 8th time and had the go 30 minutes after, or how much my stomach was in pain, I got into the practice of telling myself that this will all pass me by and I will get better. I’d imagine the feeling of being healthy afterwards and how much better I will feel because I’ve been sick and haven’t felt this helpless in a really long time.
This sickness is serving as a great contrast, which is important. Being sick serves as a reminder of how amazing being healthy is and how appreciative I should be when I experience my healthy body and mind. If I am always healthy, if everything in my life is always given to me and I don’t have to work that hard for it, then I’d likely take it a little for granted. Having the polar opposite in my life sometimes (not most of the time) is a great reality check to see whether I’m taking Kaori for granted, my family for granted, my health and wellness for granted, my job for granted, my overall life situation for granted, etc.
And whatever the cases have been throughout my life, my times of sadness or disappointment, they have all become figments of my past, and I have been able to move forward.
Main point: ‘Bad’ times can positively serve you by providing contrast to make when you do feel ‘good’ feel greater. And also to remind yourself that this particular disempowering emotional state (frustration, anger, sadness, helplessness, etc) that you experience will come to pass. It is only temporary.
So I encourage EVERYONE, because we all have our share of challenges, to remind themselves that any hardship is only a temporary place, a place where lessons are learned, distinctions are drawn, and we use this place so the next chapter can be written.
As always, I’d love to read any comments that you may have!