Humility in COVID
by Ann Cowper
It's hard to think of the last time I was courageous because it is an ongoing occurrence these days in times of COVID. Courage is a muscle that I work to strengthen everyday. My latest lesson in courage is the humility to ask for help.
As a child, running through the woods was an escape. In addition, as the oldest, I felt responsible for the others.
Then I became a nurse on my feet 12 hours at a time and sometimes more, always helping and taking care of others. Maybe that is why it is predominantly a woman's profession. We tend to help others and refuse it for ourselves.
The first lesson in humility began October 3, 2010, the day of my stroke; Those lessons have been hard-learned. Before Oct 3, I was constantly on my feet moving, cleaning, going, planning the next project-just one more thing to do. I had been doing this since childhood. I would say it has taken about 10 years to repair, be thankful for the stroke, and see who I am.
Lessons come back around again as my teacher Terri tells me, “to be sure you have learned them”. I met Terri when I first began to change my path before the stroke. I had a series of teachers, but I have gone back to Terri many times through the years for my best guidance and direction. The wise woman, she feels like a mother and she says I can do the same work for others.
The other day I was on my feet for a few hours gardening for a friend. Gardening is my healing work. I stopped. Packed up. Time to go. I was on my way home. Should I wash the car, or not? Yes. No. I have the energy don't I? I stopped at the local, do it yourself care wash. 10 minutes later I was on the ground looking up I saw the car dripping and shiny. Ouch. A broken ankle but I did not know it at the time. My first call for help was to The Circle. There are five ladies in my circle and we have grown to support and learn from each other. We mentally and emotionally have supported each other through COVID. I was about to learn yet another lesson.
I was sad to have left a message with one and then another of them. But the third I knew wasn't reachable at work. I was all alone crying, swelling, thirsty, dog licking my face but not much help. Thirty minutes went past, 60 minutes, then 90 minutes later a message came, "I'm on my way!” Beth, the one who wasn’t reachable at work. It turned out that one friend called the other and put a plan into action. They were to the rescue. She busied herself when she arrived with ice, water, food, and a blanket and pillow. Then off she went after a warm hug.
I was going to the beach with these ladies for a few days. I am a nurse. I can self-treat! We were off to the beach and I hobbled through the days with support.
I heard her though. The nurse on my shoulder saying, "You had better get an x-ray. Something is wrong."
Now I'm in a cast they call a boot these days. I realize that I need to ask for help again. No driving and limited walking. It’s my ultimate insight that if I do ask I will not be seen as weak. I will not be taken advantage of, and people will not see some deep dark secret in me that I have problems. And there are other things I need help with. That is for the next chapter of my life. Lesson learned.
Looking back I believe this time is a wonderful opportunity for self evaluation, growth, and learning. In this last year in COVID I have also been taking Nurse Coaching classes for certification. I hope to support others to learn what I have already learned… with humility.