Nine Things Pneumonia Taught Me

Right before Thanksgiving, pneumonia kicked me flat. I had a 103.7* fever (about 39.83 C) and coughed like an antique steam shovel. It was so bad we had to cancel our trip to California–and we’ve never done that before. When I was lying around hacking, I had a lot of time to think. Here are a few things that pneumonia taught me:

1. Get the rest you need every day.
I often would get by on 6 hours of sleep. I heard that some people like Donald Trump don’t need that much sleep and get by on super concentrated amounts of sleep (like 4 to 5 hours). I am not one of those people. Today I accept the fact that God created me in a body that needs about 8 hours of sleep. When I think that I can defy that and scrape by on less sleep than that, I’m not honoring God.

2. Eat well and when you’re hungry. Don’t wait too long between meals.
I have a tendency to hyperfocus with my ADHD and tinge of workaholism. I’ve gone too long without food. Sometimes the meal I brought to work doesn’t sound good to me by lunchtime. Or I think that I’m a squirrel and can live on almonds alone. Wrong! I need to make sure that I take the deliberate time out to eat a wholesome, yummy lunch.

3. Avoid wheat and recreational sugar.
I’ve heard wheat is a neurotoxin, and especially nasty for ADHDers like me. Recreational sugar is highly addictive. When pneumonia struck me down, I had been grazing on organic “treats” and junk for months. During my convalescence, I ate neither wheat nor sugar—God nudged me to avoid them altogether. It’s easier to stay away from them rather than start and stop, especially with the pernicious phenomenon of craving that would sneak in, when I take “just one bite” of ice cream. When in doubt, kick them out!

4. Don’t overwork.
When I got into a habit of working too hard, I wouldn’t give myself enough time to rest. When I worked too hard, I would then fall prey to perfectionism or the Law of Diminishing Returns. I also would do too much, which would also increase my stress level when

5. Avoid toxic people NO MATTER WHAT.
If you must interact with them, like at work, keep them at a distance. Hold them far away from you with salad tongs or old-fashioned forceps. I imagine super septic folks as tiny action figures and that I’m holding them away with dental floss. Ha!

6. No checking email or working on weekends.
Have you ever checked email at night, just to see what’s going on? And then…..there’s a nasty turd bomb in your inbox which causes your blood pressure to rise and your anxiety to spike? And it’s the weekend or late at night you can’t do anything about it. Does it really make a difference if you check your email every free nanosecond? Or will you be more efficient if you check email twice or thrice daily at set times?

7. Minimize electronics after 8 PM.
Start reading a book (analog style–you know a book with pages!) Apparently when you stare at electronics after sunset it jacks up your circadian rhythms. One of my goals is to become (more of) a morning person. Dinking around on my IPad late at night does not help.

8. Get to know nice people. Let them in your circle.
At work, at church, at meetups, civic organizations, whatever. New friends and old gems are everywhere. Stop isolating!

9. Love, health, friends, and family matter most.
When I had pneumonia, was struggling to breathe, and was delirious with fever- nothing mattered more than getting my health back. I am grateful for the love of my husband–he took care of me the whole time, drove me to urgent care, and supplied me with Ricola cough drops. I am grateful to my friends who prayed for me and checked on me.

The big picture:
Take care of yourself. If you do not take time for purposeful rest, then you will get sick and your body will force you to.

With that, be well! And Happy New Year.

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