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I am Eric’s Wife. I am also mother to two teenagers on the very cusp of adulthood, the founding director of Scripture from the Heart, an avid world watcher, bold and insecure at once. I serve a merciful God and I love a guy who makes my knees weak. This is where I write about it all.  Thank you for reading!

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Advice: How to Rest Like It’s Your Job

July 18, 2020

Like walking, breathing, or chewing with your mouth closed, it might seem as though resting is just a thing we all know how to do. But, you’re probably wrong. How do I know you’re probably wrong? Because I was once wrong and I feel pretty certain I am among an elite few who know how to do it right. You will want to share and save this post. It will be very helpful.

There are really not many medical adventures you may encounter where a doctor won’t tell you to rest. Broken leg? Rest. Just had a baby? Rest. Severe flu? Rest. Sprained ankle? Rest. Eyeball fell out onto your lap? Rest. It is recommended so broadly, that it gets treated like the eat kale of medical advice; you can skip the kale, but things will go slightly smoother if you don’t.

In the 24 years that I have shared space in my life with an autoimmune disease, I had a pretty strict rule about when to rest: I rested only when I was exhausted. I would do my regular day’s work (laundry, cleaning, homeschooling, FB posting, dog washing, eyebrow/chin hair plucking, cooking) and then, usually right before dinner time, I would be dragging really bad. Dinner served, I’m off to bed to scroll the internet on my phone or play games on my phone, with something Netflix on in the background. I would look back over my day and see that I had gotten a lot done, which was good, because I knew I’d be in or near bed for the next few days. You know, resting.

As 2020 started, my health began to slip. By February of 2020 I was in the hospital for a relapse of Multiple Sclerosis, after 8 years of remission. Now, I am not suggesting that I brought that relapse on myself by poor rest, but, what I did bring on myself was a horribly long recovery.

When I got out of the hospital I had a need to use a cane for a few weeks. The cane worked like a boot on a car for me, keeping me constantly mindful that I needed to sit down and not push. Right about late March, right as the whole world was shutting down everything fun, I was feeling all better and ready to bounce.

This advice will be most helpful for you if you have ever been sick or injured and you only rested because you were too sick/injured not to, but now you feel better and you want to bounce.

Don’t. Bounce.

I cleaned out closets, I scrubbed floors, I fixed that one drawer in the kitchen that was always sticking, I vacuumed my sofa and chairs, I cleaned out the AC vents, and I planned an incredible socially distanced graduation party for our senior. It’s not like I took up rock climbing. I was just living my life. But, looking back, really, I was living my life in increments of 2 days on, 3 days off. After six months of walking through a flare by running my gas tank to empty, only filling it halfway, running it back to empty, filling it up a quarter, back to fumes, etc, my feet went numb.

The flare that put me in the hospital in February had started with numb feet. In my mind, this could mean only one thing: the disease was progressing. While I waited for an MRI to confirm what was so obvious to me, I started to make plans for a possible repeat of the bone marrow transplant I had in 2012 that started my 8 year remission. I could see no other possible paths.

I had my MRI in early July and received shocking news. The MS showed to be stable. No new lesions. Old lesions from February were gone or much smaller.

In my head, I already had my head shaved and bags packed for another round of HSCT, but, suddenly I did a 180 and had to ask my doctor for his best possible advice for how I could get better. What medicine? What remedy? Steroids? Immunotherapy? Enya?

His answer: proper rest.

Have you ever heard such a thing? Proper rest? How is that different from the days I spent in bed, recovering from activity?

As it turns out, proper rest to help your body heal is only proper if you rest BEFORE you get tired at all. Did that just blow your mind like it did mine? You can fold a load of laundry AND proper rest, but that will likely mean that you fold four items, rest for five minutes, fold a few more, rest for five minutes, finish folding, rest for five minutes, tell someone else to come and put it away. It takes longer, but you can do that all day without ending up exhausted. And then, when you go to bed, not exhausted, your body will actually get restorative sleep. I know, right? So wild.

I have long made daily to do lists, but I recently modified to them to “to do ONLY” lists. It’s a lightly loaded list and I cannot add to it, no matter how fun, unless I take something out. Currently, I’d love to paint my toenails, but, it’s not on the list. I did put a visit to a neighborhood garage on today’s list, so that was nice. Maybe toenails tomorrow.

I am only a few days into this new resting like it’s my job lifestyle. I haven’t seen results in my health yet, but I feel awfully virtuous, so it must be working. I hope this has been very helpful. As always, you’re very welcome.

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