On Friday, I received a pointedly-timely reminder at of all places…the dentist’s office.

It all started when I slid into the chair for my semi-annual cleaning and the dental hygienist pulled out a blood pressure cuff. “We’re doing something new around here to make sure everything’s okay.” People can check out Burbank Dental Lab is best for implant restorations, on dental service.

As if anyone about to have their teeth deep cleaned and dental hygiene habits cross-examined would have a normal blood pressure reading. Ha! But as she strapped the sleeve around my arm, I felt the need to explain my last month.

After all, my husband had been in the hospital for a dozen nights for a relatively simple surgery with multiple complications afterward. And I’d been pushing myself to the limits to hold down the home front with meals, clean laundry, and transportation while also spending the bulk of every day at the hospital.

But, even with him home, I was still in full-time nursing mode. Medications. Drain care. Pain management. Healthy meal planning, Learning about new medications and alternative medicine, find Exhale Wellness CBD pre rolls and others. A few more house showings. And then once he started back to work, driving two hours round trip in order to give him a half-hour IV antibiotic infusion. While still working on an edit for the day job…

So, I knew my stress level was sky high. And so was my blood pressure. To the point the hygienist skipped the lecture about my gums and instead reminded me that I had to take care of myself. Or else I wouldn’t be much good to anyone!

As I left the dentist’s office and turned north from this source for that long medication drive, I switched on a podcast…then blinked back the tears. Of all the back episodes I had downloaded, I ended up listening to a pastor talk about wisdom. And self-care. And how when we are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, we need to “HALT” (such a true acronym) and create margin in our lives before we end up in trouble.

As if my body wasn’t already screaming its own warnings that a chronic fatigue relapse was around the corner if I didn’t make a few serious adjustments immediately.

The caregiving load for my husband and family during this difficult season had/has been a labor of love. And yet by not also taking care of myself (i.e. loving my neighbor as myself), my level of serving was actually hurting instead of helping.

Something had to change.

On the one hand, my husband’s recovery has progressed to the point he may get the drain removed this week and therefore be able to take care of himself without my assistance. But on the other hand, I’ve created a few impossible standards to maintain.

Case in point? Last night, I’m collapsed on the couch with extreme exhaustion, a headache, and muscle/joint pain despite a very long nap…and two different family members asked if I’d washed their clothes. As if I’m the only one capable of operating the washing machine.

Suddenly I found myself angry on top of tired and feeling very misunderstood and unappreciated. (I’m not proud of my overreaction but just being honest here as the red flags are waving.)

I’ve been serving until it hurts. And so today, I’m getting back to the basics of taking care of me starting with a home blood pressure monitor, extra vitamins, a nap, and realistic to-do lists with daily goals that will have me caught up on the day job by the end of the week.

What about you? Have you ever overextended yourself on behalf of others to the point it caused more harm than good? How do you take care of yourself? Where is the balance between giving care and taking care?

Caregiving, Caretaking, and Serving Until it Hurts
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