Navigating a strange healthcare system and the importance of self-care

I was struggling to think of a topic for this blog post. Part of the reason is that I came down with the flu over the holidays and that flu turned into bronchitis. It hit me so hard that I ended up in the hospital for a few days, and I haven’t been able to do much more than lie down and sleep since Boxing Day.

Navigating an unfamiliar hospital system is something that strikes fear into my heart. Talk about terrifying. Until recently, I’d never been to a private hospital. I learned that it’s really difficult to think about payment when you’re that sick, but they wanted payment up front since I don’t have local insurance. Luckily, everything worked out and I got the care I needed. Many thanks to the staff of Life Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. They got my back on my feet and time will take care of the rest.

Which brings me to the real topic of this blog post: self-care and knowing when to rest. Self-care means different things in different contexts, but in this case I mean making time to rest, recover and take care of yourself so that you can get or stay happy and healthy and put in your best effort. This has always been very difficult for me, especially over the past couple of weeks, partly because I have been eager to make the most of my time here in Cape Town, and partly because I know I’m better mentally and physically when I’m active and out of the house every day. Finding a balance between rest and activity that will let me recover has been challenging, especially since this is the first time I’ve been this sick while away from home and my usual support networks.

Learning to rest when I need to isn’t a skill that I managed to develop in the Canadian context, but it’s an important one, and one I think I’m glad to have been forced to learn, even if the situation is far from ideal.

Taryn Husband is working as an Intern in sexual and gender-based violence and criminal justice with Gender, Health and Justice Research UnitUniversity of Cape Town in South Africa.