Saturday, December 28, 2019

Take care of yourself

Early in the fall, in the midst of some professional chaos, I caught a nasty illness. I did go to the doctor who ruled out anything serious and I lived with the sickness for several days. I never really recovered before I caught another illness. In both cases, the sicknesses were being passed around at school and many were sick with coughs, congestion, body aches, and other infections. That's not uncommon in schools where people have such close contact day after day.

Nevertheless, throughout the fall, I lived with some congestion that just didn't go away. I resisted seeing the doctor mostly because when you teach, there's little 9-5 time to see a doctor since that takes hours to get there, be seen, and do the follow-up work so I lived with the congestion. Finally during the holiday break, my family insisted that I go, and I am so glad that I listened to them as I was finally able to meet with the doctor and start a protocol that lifted the congestion, gave me a good night's sleep and put me on the road to recovery. Yes, I should have done this earlier.

I know I'm not alone as a teacher or a mom when it comes to delaying the care I sometimes need. Teachers and moms often put the needs of their students and children ahead of their own needs, and it's very difficult for teachers and moms to find time to get the care they need since they are taking care of others day in and day out, but we have to support one another to make that happen. We have to be willing to use our sick days at work, reach out to friends and family members to watch our children, and make time to see doctors when we need to.

Not only is it difficult to see a doctor, but it is also difficult to find a doctor who is nearby and take patients as well as health plans that are of high quality. Too often, doctors are hard to find, and health plans difficult to manage. I have had to change doctors numerous times due to all kinds of reasons. I have my fingers crossed that the good doctor and office I recently found remains in place for a while--the distance is not too far, the doctor is obviously committed and knowledgeable, the office is run well, and needed labs and hospitals are nearby. This is good.

It may sound silly, but I believe that many of us stay satisfied with subpar conditions, conditions that don't support our best health care, parenting, education, and environment. We don't recognize the power we have if we use our collaboration, time, imagination, and intelligence more to better conditions for excellence as parents, teachers, and community members. In some ways, I think that's why people shy away from candidates for national, state, and local contests who have good ideas about bettering conditions for good living and instead lean towards macho candidates who are manipulative rather than helpful.

Ideas such as quality, accessible health care for all, free high quality  public schools and colleges, optimal environmental protections, a four-day work week, affordable child care, sensible gun laws, and more equitable taxation will elevate living for all people, and in turn, build a stronger country for everyone. We all have to take care of ourselves, and we all have to advocate for the conditions that help us to do that--to live and work in ways that compromise the good parenting or teaching or other services we provide is not god for anyone. We can do better.