I was looking forward to leaving Nairobi for work last week. I left at a civil time for Machakos were I would spend one of two days for work out of town. The first day we arrived in about 90 minutes, we kicked off the interview train, moving across the city and its environs documenting success stories.
I am always fired up when I meet people and hear their amazing stories. When I got back to the hotel I was fired up, but extremely hungry, it was 4 pm, the last meal I had was breakfast at 8.30 am that day. I arrived to check-in at the hotel with a plan to rush down and eat then get some work done. That didn’t happen, the receptionist was taking her time checking some guests when I arrived, my hunger drove me to the restaurant where I proceeded to chuff down the fastest meal they could prepare. I had a long phone call with a friend as I washed down my meal with a drink and finally checked in and left for my room.
The digestive process began and my brain checked me into ETC (end of thinking capacity). So I proceeded to have a 45-minute phone conversation with a friend. What I didn’t realise at that time, was my body was actually sending off signals. My plan to work after the phone conversation wasn’t going to happen, I was done for the day and probably for the week.
I woke up the following day ready for a whole day of travel early in the morning, to Kitui. We had a 5-hour trip ahead of us. Initially, we thought the person we were going to see was exaggerating the distance from Machakos to our shock and after numerous naps on the way, he wasn’t kidding.
Long story short, after a day consisting of a nine-hour drive, I was completely exhausted. My head started to pound as I feel it teasing me now as I write. I thought it was just trip exhaustion. What I didn’t realise was for the past few days, my body had been sending signs; it was time to call it quits for the year.
Irritability was back, potty mouth, shorter than usual attention span with work, creativity in spurts, a genuine need to throw away my laptop every Friday when I wrap up work. I didn’t take strong enough note of this.
The usual 7 – 8 hours of sleep isn’t enough, headaches are so bad I need to take painkillers to sleep and then my body throws in its best defence to protect itself from further abuse. It sent a running stomach. Immediately I walked into my house, from my trip, after I placed my bags on the floor, my first destination was the bathroom, that would be my life for the next four days.
I thought it was food poisoning at first, I ate cooked gizzards at breakfast the day I was travelling back from Machakos. I am not too sure it was fresh, I had some “fresh” juice at the hotel as well, awful. But on the 5 hour trip to Kitui, my tummy didn’t act up, why only when I get home? I showered and went to bed at 8 pm last Thursday but at 11.30 pm the same night my tummy woke me up and the marathon of bloating and the runs proceeded. It was awful, it was like an involuntary detox. I drank so much water, I completed 20 litres of water in two days just trying to flush out whatever it was that contaminated my body.
On Saturday I slept in and woke up rested, but my body was tingling all over. It was a familiar feeling I hadn’t felt in 8 years. Extreme fatigue. These were the signs I had after working 18 months straight from 2012 to 2013.
Like me, many work extremely hard, and especially in a year like this, you work to ensure you have your sanity, a roof over your head and food on the table. But as always we work too hard to our detriment.
Earlier in the year, my therapist told me it was essential to learn my life cycles, so I can take care of myself. Most of the time we don’t realise we actually have one. But there is one, I realised that from April every year, I start to burn out, by June existence is extremely hard. I genuinely want to run away from work and that’s normally when I have the worst work ethic and productivity levels. I used to think it was a character flaw. It was actually my body telling me I need to rest to reboot for the last half of the year.
Work-wise, I am a sprinter, not a marathoner, so I work in bursts and need to break accordingly. And now that we have hit December, I have learnt something else as well, by the second week of December it’s time to call it a day. No more work, just rest for three solid weeks to reboot and get ready for the next year.
It’s funny that in life we know a lot of things but it takes a crisis for us to learn to listen to our bodies and learn how to take care of ourselves. Well, good people! For work, I say fare thee well this week. And hello fun and relaxation. It’s time to care for Rose.