Maintaining Your Physical Health as a Special Needs Mom

Maintaining Your Physical Health as a Special Needs Mom

I disappeared. I know.  Though I do write on my Facebook page at times if you want to keep up with me there.

Let’s jump right back to the series, though. Even though this is a hard topic.

We hear all the time about self-care and usually it involves talk on bubble baths or a weekend away. I don’t know about you, but the majority of suggestions just aren’t going to touch the stress and wear on my body with caring for a medically complex child.

I didn’t sleep for about 5+ years. I’m honestly not sure if I sleep now. I know my eyes are closed. I also know I’m still on high alert. And I know I wake up most mornings feeling like hell. Usually with my kid slapping me with “Mom! Wake up! The sun’s awake!!!” Why, thank you. I did want to get up with the sun. Again. Always.

So your physical health.

Food

One of the hardest things to do when you’re tired and stressed and drowning is eat right. Doing it in the hospital is even harder. Practically impossible, honestly.

But there are little things you can do, tricks you can try to at least make an attempt. 

If you’re home, cooking simple meals with just a basic meat and veggie combo is a great way to eat well. That’s most of our meals these days. Meat of some kind cooked with simple or interesting spices and a veggie. 

I looked at food pictures for you.
You’re welcome.

I’m a big fan of frozen chopped onions to start meal prep. 

I’m completely in love with my pressure cooker for its speed and amazing broth making abilities.

I don’t do any of those ‘time saving’ tricks that actually require putting in time just at a different…time. It’s not like I have extra hours or energy on the weekend. 

I just make basic meals. 

And limit my sugar to almost none. I don’t know if it’s the stress or age or what, but sugar screws with my mood pretty intensely these days. And I have literally no willpower. At all. No sugar = I don’t crave it. One cookie = SUGAR MONSTER WANTS ALL THE TREATS!!!! 

I have no in between. 

But we did have a really really sucky blood draw attempt (yeah, didn’t actually get the blood. *sigh*) this morning and I made a pan of brownies. Because mental health in the moment is important to me. And no willpower, remember?

If you’re in the hospital…I don’t know. If things are going well, eat a salad. If things aren’t going well, cut yourself some slack. During our worst year of hospital stays, I would always have good intentions of ordering something healthy for dinner, but at like 3pm every day, sh*t would hit the fan and by 6pm (or 10pm depending on the fan speed), it became “If someone doesn’t bring me pizza and breadsticks and a cupcake, I’m going to lose my mind!!!!” Because again…mental health. It’s okay. Your priority during hospital stays is not to lose weight and get fit. 

Exercise

I have very little advice on this front.

Because here’s the thing: the less sleep you get, the more inflammation you have in your body which means you’re more likely to injure yourself. 

Which is essentially what I do whenever I work out. Not even kidding. Started up again last week after a break for sickness and spent the weekend hurt. Fun times. 

Now some of this is my literal inability to just take the slow and steady path. That path is boring and time consuming. 

So maybe that’s my advice? Don’t be stupid and push yourself to the brink. Give yourself grace. Remember you’re healing mentally, emotionally, AND physically.

Oh and one of my major frustrations with fitness was that I was tracking things that could be undone by a crisis. If I lost a few pounds, all it took was a hospital stay to put it all back on plus more. It’s incredibly discouraging. Like today…with the brownies.

But, now I’m trying to track things that can’t be undone. I walked a mile today. And then we had the awful blood draw. And then I made a pan of brownies. But I walked that mile, damn it. It cannot be undone and at some arbitrary distance goal I will reward myself with something. I don’t know what yet. I should probably figure that out to give myself a tangible goal. Meh, I’ll get to it.

Supplements

I’m not a doctor. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a doctor. 

Seriously, I’m not. This isn’t medical advice. This is another struggling special needs mom sharing what has helped.

If you can get to a functional health doctor or the like, go do that. Get some real advice. 

But I know sometimes that’s hard. 

Find a good multivitamin, especially if your diet is less than.

Check your vitamin D level and get that up.

If you’re not getting sleep, look into ways to decrease inflammation. I currently drink an apple cider vinegar concoction, take turmeric, gelatin (collagen hydrolysate) and omega 3 fish oil. 

Thyroid supplement. My thyroid levels have always tested fine (well, ‘normal’ but that’s a huge freaking range), but honestly, I just was so damn run down, I bought one to try out. I felt a lot better. I stopped taking it. I felt worse. So now I take it every day. 

If you’ve been under stress for a long time, your adrenals may need some extra support. There are different supplements that are for that. Research to find one that looks good for your needs.

Again, not a doctor. Just drowning and trying to figure it all out for now.

Cycles

If you’re not already charting your cycles, start doing that. 

Because here’s the thing: our monthly cycles impact our moods and motivations and energy. 

A lot.

Seriously, a lot.

Especially if you’re stressed and tired and run down.

I really love this article in discussing the different parts of your cycle and being aware of what will occur in your mood and energy. And this article is fascinating and I love that whole blog. So.many.good articles.

With this knowledge, I try to plan my month accordingly. I know that at the beginning of my cycle, I’m going to want to DO ALL THE THINGS! I try to have appointments and errands and projects during those weeks.

And then I prep for the slower times. I know I’m going to want to spend time in quieter activities, that I’ll be more introspective. That’s normal! That’s good! 

I also know that at the end of my cycle, I will feel trapped and sad and frustrated. Now that I know that, I can just hang in there, knowing it will pass, knowing I’ll feel more optimistic in a few short days. 

*If you’re taking hormonal birth control, this won’t be as relevant as that keeps your hormones more level, but I would highly recommend you check out the Natural Womanhood blog articles because synthetic hormones might not be doing your stressed out body any favors.


These are all really basic suggestions/tips. Your own health needs will be unique and specific to your body and your experiences, but hopefully this at least gets you thinking.

The big thing is not to completely ignore your body and its needs. 

And that’s a tall order when life is chaos and you’re trying to keep your kid alive or you don’t have any help. 

This isn’t to shame you for not doing enough. Because your child is your priority. They have to be. That’s motherhood.

But when things calm down enough to remember that you also have a physical body that requires care, start slow, start with the little things. You’ll get there. 

Ya know how they always say that your body changed for nine months and so it will take nine months to lose the baby weight or whatever. I mean, one, I’m calling bullshit because you don’t actually just undo the massive changes during pregnancy. But two, intense care of a child mixed with some good trauma and physical stress is not something you just undo. We had five incredibly intense years…maybe six. I don’t know, today sucked, so I might say eight. But your body doesn’t just bounce back from that. It might take me just as many years to feel healthy again. I don’t know, but what was done to my body over these years was more than can be fixed in a few months or a year or a couple years. 

Give yourself time. Care for yourself as you can. Self-care is not a bubble bath or a weekend away. It’s a mindset that your body is worth caring for. It has allowed you to care for your child. Thank it when you can. Heal it when you’re able.

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One thought on “Maintaining Your Physical Health as a Special Needs Mom

  1. My favorite quick exercises …. Dr zach Bush nitric oxide dumps. 3 minutes 2 to 3 times a day…. Especially if you feel like you are getting sick!

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