This post is by no means a way to complain or to gloat. On the contrary, this serves as an encouragement to anyone reading to take time for yourself, to pamper yourself once in a while, and to find a way to recharge your batteries regularly. The advice to recharge was first heard during orientation week of my Internal Medicine residency eight years ago (yikes!). I listened, but I did not truly hear this advice or try to implement it properly. I’m sure I am not alone in that, for residency is a time of being swept up, overworked, overtaxed with learning/education expectations, learning the art of medicine, and trying to survive. Simple aspects of personal care such as adequate sleep and proper nutrition fall to the wayside. Although I had more control over this aspect of my life after residency, once I started my “real” job, many of those old habits stayed with me. Combine this with being a woman (our mental to-do list is always running), and then becoming a mother (who by definition cares for others’ needs first), and really taking the time for self care became more of a challenge. But it is OH SO necessary, not only for happiness, but for sanity. The best way to keep giving, to keep caring for others, and to maintain compassion is to assure your own tender heart is cared for. And the best person who knows how to do that is YOU.
It has been a hard year. I had just started a new job that I was really enjoying, found my groove in terms of food and fitness, was sleeping well, and cruising along. Cruise control in life is the perfect time for the universe to step in and show everyone who’s boss! In a short amount of time, there was a major change happening with my employer and physician group, and after much deliberation and a fair amount of personal financial contribution, my husband and I decided to explore other options in case this new change was too risky for us.
I had known for a long time that I eventually wanted to practice Palliative Care medicine, but I did not expect to pursue fellowship for at least 10 years after graduating from residency. I was hoping to pay my student loans off first before applying and taking the massive pay cut to pursue more training in a fellowship program. However, the stars aligned, and within a matter of weeks during the summer of 2017, I decided to apply, completed my online application, and started interviewing. By December 2017, I matched and knew where we’d be moving. I was also pregnant with my second daughter!
That winter was rough in terms of illnesses. Taking care of sick patients and getting sick myself was difficult while running after a toddler and being pregnant. I had several rounds of antibiotics, an ER visit (I was worried I had pneumonia), and a lingering cough that took inhaled steroids to finally beat. Springtime brought some relief in terms of health, but we had our house on the market from the end of January through April. If you’ve ever sold a house, you know how TIRING it is to keep your home “show ready” every single day. I continued to work full time, continued to have a growing baby belly, and continued to worry worry worry about how and when everything would happen.
Again, our stars aligned and our home finally sold. The timing ended up being perfect, for we did not have to find a temporary home before/during the birth of our baby in May. (That was another stressor because she was 5 days late, and we were supposed to move soon). Just two weeks after her birth, we moved out of our first home (I don’t think I have even processed that fully yet) and into our rental home in Charleston. Thankfully, my recovery and breastfeeding experience were MUCH smoother this time around. A few more stars were aligning.
Seven weeks after delivering, I started fellowship. In the middle of this, another stressor popped up that threw us for a loop and had us scrambling for a few days. However, we pulled through and kept going. I have thus far had a wonderful experience with fellowship and my super supportive team. Things were going along well, and I was looking forward to getting some rest during my first vacation since April 2017, when Hurricane Florence decided to (threaten to) hit Charleston. All vacation plans went out the window, but I ended up attending a family wedding at the last minute (sorry I’m THAT GUY) and it ended up being a blast! However, I definitely got no rest as planned/hoped for.
My kind husband essentially forced me to take a weekend to myself to sleep and do whatever I wanted. He was going to book everything for me, but then he came down with the flu and was out of commission for five days. I figured I’d better find something for myself before everything was taken! I did some googling and decided to book a stay at the Belmond Charleston Place.
Let. Me. Tell. You. The Belmond was SUCH a lovely hotel and offered amazingly exceptional service. I checked in on Friday right after work. My room was automatically upgraded due to perks from American Express Platinum. I also received a daily $30 credit for breakfast (to be used in the hotel’s restaurant or for room service) and a $100 food/beverage credit. The hotel houses a luxurious spa that was recently renovated. I initially was not going to book any spa services, but I walked into the spa and decided to schedule a Saturday massage. After months of sleepless nights and lying in awkward positions with a nursing baby, I knew a deep tissue massage was just what I needed!
When I arrived Friday night, I decided to venture out for a quick dinner. I walked to Cuban Gypsy Pantry and enjoyed a delicious meal while listening to lively music. I walked back to the hotel, ready to shower and go to sleep early. When I arrived, I had a complimentary cheese and fruit plate with a bottle of wine in my room! This was such an unexpected surprise, and I was nearly in tears at how valued I felt by this small gesture. I enjoyed some of the plate (it was far too much for one person), started my book, and then fell asleep before 9pm. It was glorious!
I did have to wake up in the middle of the night to pump breastmilk, but other than that I got the most consecutive sleep I had gotten in four months! I pumped early in the morning on Saturday and then spent a couple of hours reading in bed, enjoying the cozy, rainy, overcast morning. I fell asleep again, then woke up in time to go to breakfast. The Palmetto Cafe’s breakfast buffet was DELICIOUS. I fully indulged in the homemade croissants, fresh fruits, omelet station, and a cappuccino. I loved being able to sit and read while enjoying my breakfast! For anyone with kids, you know that the days of enjoying a civilized meal at a restaurant are limited, ha!
I then retreated to my room to read, then headed out for a historic walking tour of Charleston from 3pm-5pm. It was very informative and enjoyable, and our group was small. I am a sucker for old historic cities (spoiled by Philadelphia and New Orleans!), and I look forward to finding the interesting points of the city the next time I wander around.
After the tour, I quickly returned to the room to shower (and pump) before my massage at 6pm. There was a lovely spa relaxation room to use before/after the massage that was stocked with water, hot tea, and snacks. The massage itself included the use of essential oils of my choice — lavender all the way! After the massage, I spent a few minutes in the sauna to further relax the muscles. I then got ready for my dinner reservation at 8:30.
Dinner at Charleston Grill, the hotel’s other restaurant, was absolute divinity. I cannot remember the last time my entire meal was so well done and of such high quality ingredients. I remarked after dinner that I did not feel bloated (which I often will after eating gluten). I started with a fresh, cold charred octopus salad. My main course was filet mignon with asparagus. I asked the filet to be cooked per the chef’s preference, and it was cooked to utter perfection! I enjoyed a glass of Malbec which perfectly complemented the tender steak. For dessert, I opted for the black chocolate pudding cake at the waiter’s recommendation. It. was. ridiculous. Paired with a port wine and some lovely live jazz, this dessert was the perfect end to a perfect meal. I highly recommend this restaurant for a true fine dining experience!
After dinner, I went to sleep early and rose early on Sunday. (I did have to pump in between again). I read some more in bed before another breakfast in the Palmetto Cafe’s lush green courtyard. I finished my book, then returned to the room to pack and check out. Though I had complementary 4pm checkout with Amex, I opted to leave late in the morning because I missed my kiddos! I also needed to get things prepared for the week ahead. Needless to say, I returned home feeling lighter and happier than when I left, and that was the whole purpose!
I was truly blown away by the perks I received by booking this trip via Amex Travel. I cannot speak more highly of my experience at The Belmond. If you’re visiting Charleston and want to splurge, definitely check out this hotel! Thank you for a wonderful, relaxing, and recharging weekend.