This month, I was planning to record a special solocast to welcome in our 100th episode of the podcast. Instead, three days before my son Jacob’s scheduled knee surgery on July 11th, I got diagnosed with shingles. I’m recovering well and so is Jacob thankfully. But it really caused me to revisit my relationship with my body. There was a need for forgiveness all the way around, a rebuilding of trust and a recommitment to myself.
In case you’re not familiar, shingles is the re-emergence of the chicken pox virus, which if you’ve ever had chicken pox lives dormant in your nerves and tends to come out later in life during a period of high stress or when your immune system is low. I should have gotten the shingles vaccine when I turned 50, around the time that I originally recorded this Dear Body episode I’m resharing with you today. Unfortunately, I had getting the vaccine in the back of my mind and never took care of it, leaving myself susceptible.
So, if you had chickenpox as a child, are over 50 or have issues with your immune system, this is your friendly reminder and PSA to go get your shingles vaccine.
For me to get shingles when I was worried about my son’s surgery felt like a betrayal from my own body and the last thing I needed. But, a few things happened that are helping me to see this as an opportunity to make meaning and change.
1) The first person I called for guidance when I got the diagnosis was Dr. Samantha Brody, a podcast guest from 2019, when she released her book Overcoming Overwhelm, who has since become a friend and advisor. When I called her, Samantha reminded me that she had had shingles and shared some about her experience. I was surprised however, when a few days after my diagnosis I put shingles in my FB search to see if there was any wisdom I might find and came upon a post from Samantha from 2018, letting people know she had shingles because she was stressed out about her book launch and needed to ask for help. Did anyone know of any podcasts where she could share about her book she wrote? In the comments, I found the tag to me and Mother’s Quest that must have brought me and Samantha together in the first place. This was a reminder to relisten to my episode with Samantha, so relevant, and trust again that sometimes the universe connects you to what you will need in the future.
2) I had several helpful therapy sessions during these weeks of recovery where I uncovered a few things. One, the incredible parallel between my own open heart surgery at the age of 10, to repair a hole in my heart, and Jacob’s knee surgery at the age of 10 to repair a hole in his knee, from a condition called osteochondritis dissecans. We realized there may be some leftover trauma from my own experience that was adding some additional stress, even if only in my subconscious. I’m now giving myself some space and grace to look back on that experience and see if there is anything that needs some extra care and healing.
3) Finally, this whole experience has helped me acknowledge that I’m often more stressed out than I realize. Most often, I mask my stress with a smile. And I allow my nervous system to be in a perpetual state of go go go. My therapist suggested that I should take my foot off the gas more when I’m in park. I love a good metaphor. There is a lot going on in my life and sometimes I can’t relax, but I can make an effort to be in park more often and when I’m in park, really allow myself to shut down and restore. I’m clearly on a quest for this, so may work to find some special podcast guests who are experts on this topic. Stay tuned.
I thought I’d invite all of us to listen to the Dear Body episode again and then also my conversation with Samantha Brody, linked in the show notes, with a fresh perspective. Is there something your body is trying to communicate to you? A “tell” as Samantha would say. What values are most important to you right now? And then how might