Children with healthy mothers are much more likely to survive childhood, attend school and live healthy, productive lives.
This is part #2 of my series on Successful Habits of Single Mothers. See Part#1 here.
I never went to the doctor as a young woman. After that, I only went when I was pregnant. Then to the pediatrician with my children. I rarely thought about my own health until the day I hit meltdown. That was the day I was diagnosed with hypertension.
I began taking medication but I was never aware that diet played a major factor in my overall health. I continued to eat whatever I wanted. When I had a headache —which happened frequently — I would just take pain killers. I would stay in bed for days on end until the headache passed. It never dawned on me that I was suffering from multiple transient ischemic attacks or TIAs.
Ticking Time Bomb
One day, I was driving to view a house to market to my clients, despite the fact that I had an excruciating headache. Pain killers no longer had any effect. The headaches were so bad I could hardly see where I was going. Still, I happened to notice the sign to a hospital and pulled off the highway. Eight hours later, I emerged from the hospital after a battery of tests. An MRI revealed a very frightening picture of my brain. There were dark spots all over my brain. The emergency room doctor pointed out that I had experienced multiple TIAs and this had been going on for years. I was a ticking time bomb.
Still, this revelation was not enough for me to stop and try to figure out why this was happening. Even after receiving the $1,100 plus bill from the hospital a few weeks later. I thought that worrying about my kids was what I should be doing. Not worrying about myself. Unfortunately, my wake up call came much later.
Needless to say, it is very important to take care of your health. Your children deserve a healthy mom and you deserve to be well.
One of the things experts say added to my rising blood pressure was lack of sleep. I spent many sleepless nights worrying about every possible thing that was going wrong or could go wrong. Ongoing, if I got 4 hours interrupted sleep, I had a good night’s sleep. This was even while I was going to school, had a part-time job, and working as a realtor, in addition to taking care of the children.
At one point, my doctor put me on a very popular sleep aid. However, I noticed that my brain was still asleep during the day. Which made for very dangerous conditions especially if you are driving a motor vehicle. Needless to say, I gave up to sleeping pills.
Given the health challenges I faced as a single mom, I subsequently did some serious digging into the way I ate. Following are some of the dietary changes I made:
1) became an avid juicer;
2) now eat mostly raw food on a regular basis;
3) reduced my meat & cooked food intake to approximately 30% of my diet;
4) with the assistance of medical professionals on and off line, introduced healthy nutrients and supplements to my body.
In addition, taking care of our emotional health is just as important if not more so than our physical. While I was going through multiple changes several years ago — new job, new city, new everything — talking to a professional saved the day for me. I know some people don’t want to talk about mental health. Still others don’t want anyone to know that they seek professional help. But who is more healthy? The person who gets professional help or the person who is too scared to get professional help?
Like I said, talking to someone was the very best thing I could do for myself and my children. I was plunging into a sea of darkness because I was overwhelmed with not just the newness of everything. I was dead scared! And I needed to talk about it since drugs, alcohol and other risky behaviors were not in my repertoire of options.
Finally, I find that daily visualization has helped me to train my body to want only healthy foods. For example, my last encounter with my favorite dessert — cheesecake — had me feeling like I was eating paper.
Always Seek Help
According to a National Institute of Health Publication, “Single mothers are more likely to experience poor mental health than partnered mothers…”. It is imperative that we try to get some help if we feel overwhelmed.
– Check with your employer to see if they provide any services. Mental health services may already be included in the benefits under your health insurance plan.
– If you do not have health insurance, check with your local clinic or ask your child’s pediatrician (if they are forward thinking). He/she may be able to give you a referral.
The ability to “think straight” is paramount when you are juggling multiple child-rearing activities, especially if you are facing challenges. Raising kids alone is still not a one (wo)man sport. So, however you can. Get help.
Although many factors affect our health, the above may be some of the things we have in our control. I found that my health improved when I implemented these and other habits into my daily routine. The key is to learn as you go, take it one day at a time, and allow your doctor to be your health partner.
Resources: Visualization for Weight Loss, Jon Gabriel;