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Prioritizing My Health

For several years I have been trying to prioritize my health. About two years ago I put more attention on it strategically. I’ve been a part of an RC large-women’s health project and have been trying to set up my Co-Counseling and personal life so that my health is a priority.

I now schedule myself for the gym first, before scheduling anything else. I have been able to get myself there regularly only if I have an appointment with someone. Mostly it has been with a personal trainer, and that has been wonderful. I’ve tried to remember to discharge regularly on my health goals, and I have three people with whom I do weekly Co-Counseling sessions on myself and my health. I’ve had good sessions on early disappointment about people not thinking well about me, and on an early decision to make it1 on my own.

A recent attempt to schedule a physical and some other health exams brought up another key piece of material.2 (For two years I had been unable to prioritize the exams.) I sent an e-mail to the group of women in the large- women’s health project, telling them about my intention to e- mail a Co-Counselor and ask her to remind me to schedule the physical. But immediately after I sent the e-mail to the group, I forgot to send the other e-mail and logged off the computer. After “forgetting” for two days to make the doctor appointment, I wrote a reminder to myself to call. But the next day when I was about to do it, I “forgot” the doctor’s name. There were two more days when I planned to bring her card from home but forgot. Finally I looked up the clinic on the Internet and went down its roster of doctors until I saw a familiar name. After finding out from the doctor’s office that my appointment needed to be during the morning, when my work schedule is the busiest, I talked with the office manager of my workplace about taking a morning off.3 I was so full of tears after I did these things, I just sat in my office and cried. The thought I kept having was, “I am never going to get to see the doctor.” The big, hopeless, frustrated feelings surprised me.

Then someone I had called for a mini-session called back, and I discharged about needing glasses when I was nine years old. I did not get them until five years later. I think I told my parents I needed them, but either they didn’t believe me or they couldn’t afford to take me to the eye doctor. At some point during the five years, I got hopeless and gave up on ever getting attention for myself. I’ve begun to have sessions on those early years, including on when my eight-year-old brother died when I was twelve. My parents were unaware that he was that sick. He did not get taken to the doctor until he was dying. Medical care was a luxury for poor working families, and home remedies usually worked. But sometimes they didn’t.

I now better understand why my struggle to feel in charge of my health began after my sister died of colon cancer over twenty years ago. She did not go to the doctor when she saw signs of her illness, because she had no money to go.

I also have a context for why directions to prioritize myself, such as, “I am that important,” have seemed to not apply to me, and why recordings such as, “It’s too late,” or “I won’t make it if I depend on people,” have tended to run.4 I am eager to keep discharging and acting outside of the patterns that have kept the early material in place, and kept me from fully knowing and acting on my self worth.

(I did finally schedule my physical exam, along with some other tests I had kept “forgetting” about for two years.)


1 In this context, make it means survive.

2 Material, means distress.

3 Off, means off work.

4 In this context, run means be acted out.

Marion Ouphouet

Seattle, Washington, USA

 Reprinted from Present Time No. 148, July 2007, page 19

 


Last modified: 2020-05-05 06:07:54+00