Like a slow gazelle.
Sounds kind of funny, doesn’t it? It’s a phrase my daughter coined a couple of weeks ago for my ex mother-in-law, Zina, (her grandmother) who’s still a good friend to me. She’s almost 91, looks closer to 70, and has a Type A personality.
She started to have some funny “turns” a couple of months ago, and they thought it might be mini strokes. They put her through every test under the sun, with multiple hospitalizations, including a stint in a rehab hospital. They found out she’s healthy as a horse, and finally could only attribute the symptoms to “silent migraines.” She doesn’t get headaches, just numbness in her left arm and leg, plus a tight feeling in the back of her neck, as well as an acute sensitivity to light.
Not surprisingly, the attacks were distressing her, and she couldn’t believe that they were really just migraines, so I had her type “arms legs numbness migraines” into our friend Google. She was astounded to find that there are thousands of people who get the same symptoms as she’s been having! It immediately relieved the stress she’d been feeling, wondering if she was, in fact, actually having mini strokes instead, and might pop off at any moment. And numbness in itself is a scary thing.
It was interesting to see that because she was far less stressed, the frequency of the attacks slowed to almost a complete stop! Now if she does start to feel a tightness in her neck, or a slight numbness coming on, she knows to sit down right away and just let it pass, which it does. It’s hard for a Type A personality to just stop and take it easy, but it’s the only way to combat this weird condition she’s developed.
As a Type A personality myself, that’s been the hardest thing about having my Fibromyalgia go into the red zone about 5 years ago with the onset of Menopause. I always took it for granted that I could work as much as I wanted (or needed to). I love multi tasking, and have a low boredom threshold with more than a touch of ADHD, something my daughter inherited, but my son did not. He’s the lucky one!
So as my conditions worsened, I had to learn to slow down. Argggghhhh … To know that I had to cut my To Do lists down to one thing a day, if I was lucky, from about a million, has been a frustration to equal that of having the condition in the first place. And, of course, since frustration doesn’t help stress levels, I had to work on not feeling frustrated about being frustrated!
The same for Zina. She’s had to learn to do things at a slower pace, and get less done in a day. Unfortunately, it’s also affected her ability to drive, because she might have a numbness attack while behind the wheel. This means she’s become dependent on others for transportation, and that’s very tough when you’re used to being independent.
We were having trouble getting Zina to accept all this, especially the part where she’s just going to have to take things a bit more slowly than she’s used to, when Sarah came up with the gazelle idea. (Sarah calls Zina Babi, pronounced Bubbie, and her late Grandfather Duki, because they’re from Lithuania, and those are the words for Grandma and Grandpa in Lithuanian. I find myself always using those titles as well, because I think they’re so charming.) Sarah told her Babi that she has always been like a gazelle, swift and graceful in everything she did.
Then she delivered the words that got through to her. ”But”, she told her, “now you have to be a slow gazelle, because that’s what Duki would expect you to do.” Duki (John) died a couple of years ago, and not only were they very close, married for a billion years (came to Australia after the War as refugees), but he was one of the people who knew how to handle her, as she can be very stubborn. (Something else Sarah inherited from both sides!)
Babi immediately got it, and we realized it applied to me, too. So now “like a slow gazelle” are our code words for taking it easy, and not only are they effective as a reminder, they also make us laugh, which is always a good thing!
I hope any of you gazelles out there who are running around like crazy, overdoing things, especially if you’re battling a chronic condition, listen to this very good advice, and sometimes let yourself be slow gazelles. As the saying goes, “Less haste, more speed.” It really doesn’t all have to get done right this minute. Not unless you want to end up as a crippled gazelle!
I’m just slowin’ down to get more done …