“Let me write out a prescription for something to help you get through the next few months. If she survives, it’s going to be a long haul.” This was said by one of the ICU doctor’s when my middle daughter, Nava, had a medical crisis that landed her in a drug-induced coma and on a ventilator.
“No thank you”, I said, as my husband nudged me to at least take the prescription. “I will attempt this the natural way.” I rarely take a tylenol; I was not going to start taking anti-anxiety pills.
I realized I needed to stay physically healthy and psychologically strong so that I could cope with this larger-than-life ordeal and be there for my daughter. I quickly decided to resume what I had been doing for the past few years – walking.
And so I began my walking regimen, or I should say, my walking therapy.
Every morning before going to the hospital to begin my day’s vigil by my daughter’s bedside, I went to my neighborhood high school track and briskly walked at least 8 laps (2 miles). No headphones to distract me; my thoughts and prayers kept me going around and around.
I focused on the large open grassy space, the one big beautiful green tree in my path and the sky, be it crystal clear or beautifully clouded. I held onto those images. I listened to my pain and heard it clearly. I spoke to it. I desperately needed the strength to go through this horrific pain each and every day.
Summer turned to fall and I walked among the fallen leaves on the path. My big tree turned even more gorgeous as its leaves became vibrantly orange and golden. My self-talk continued. My plea was for the strength to carry on.
Fall succumbed to winter when Nava was moved to a rehab facility in Westchester. I continued my walking up there through the streets of the local neighborhood. Bundled up, I walked for an hour, to the amazement of some of the school bus drivers who sometimes saw me and offered me a ride back. I declined.
Walking was my charger and I had needed my daily recharging.
I had set my sights on a nature trail that I came upon one day when driving around the area. So when the crocuses popped their heads up along the path of the rehab hospital, I decided it was time to venture out and spend my ‘free’ hour walking along this path, watching spring arise.
Walking was clearly my daily dose of medicine. I can count on two hands how many days I missed in 10 months. And I only missed one day with Nava because of being slightly under the weather.
This became my pill-free way of dealing with the most difficult time in my life; when I needed to be in as good a shape as possible to be at Nava’s side, assisting her every step of the way.
Tips for a natural approach to coping with hardship and feelings of pain:
- Find a natural stress buster that appeals to you: walking, exercise, meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, swimming, biking, to name a few.
- Do it, and then make it part of your daily routine.
- Focus on the activity. For that short time, really hone in on what you’re doing. It helps you feel grounded.
- Listen to your voice of pain and sadness. Talk to yourself. Let it be O.K.
- Ask for what you want. Pray to whom or whatever.
What is your natural way of dealing with hard times/circumstances?