They say 6 -weeks is the magic time for recovery. It seems to be holding true for me. I am now 6-weeks post surgery and this past week has seen a dramatic change in how I feel and what I can do, so while some of these essays have been difficult to post, this one is easy.
Six weeks sounds like nothing, but it seemed to take forever. But now that I am on the other side of this divide, I realize how much my body was able to accomplish in such a short time. Last week I spoke about the importance of setting small goals for myself. This week I went on to accomplish many of them. Look at this:
- I left my house and traveled by car (ie was driven) to a friend’s house for a late morning visit
- We went to a friend’s house for an early evening Pizza Night
- I began to take walks down the hilly dirt road outside my house and am now up to 20 minutes and half a mile
- I have spent each morning working in my office and holding meetings on Zoom, just as I had been doing before
- I had my first post-surgery beloved shot of tequila with dinner
These are all small steps, to be sure, but they are surefire signs of progress. None of these things could I have done one month after surgery. But now I can. Here are some of the next small goals I’ve set for myself:
- Increase my walking distance to a full mile, which is the distance to the paved road and back
- increase the amount of time I can walk so that I can go for a walk someplace further away from my house
- meet a friend for a walk
- go to the beach and watch my husband swim in the surf
I can imagine hitting some of these goals this week. There are some, though, which I know will still need more time:
- drive a car by myself
- stay awake all day
I’m not sure when I can accomplish these, and honestly, I might not be able to do them before the next surgery when the process will inevitably start all over again. But I will try to remember the three pillars of recovery, namely eat, sleep and walk.
- Eat – it takes a long time to regain my appetite, but it does come back and food is crucial to the development of stamina
- Sleep – just do it, as much as and whenever you need it. The feeling of fatigue post-surgery is like no other fatigue I’ve ever felt. I’ve always been a big napper. I have always joked that I like to take to my bed in the afternoon like a Victorian lady. I would do that whenever i could get away with it, but I could certainly do without the afternoon nap if necessary. But now, come 2 pm, I literally can do nothing other than lie down. Yesterday, after a wonderful visit with friends, I fell into a deep sleep for two hours. My level of fatigue can not be rushed and so my level of activity remains limited. But week by week nap time comes later in the day. And when I am awake, I feel more and more like myself.
- Walk – Walking, any distance for as long as possible, is the key to regaining muscle tone and energy. Even the day of surgery the nurses had me up and walking, even though it was just from the bed to the wall and back. But walking is the best exercise and I am finding that now, the more I do it, the more I can do. The muscle strength does come back, and the emotional benefits are huge, even when the physical pain is still present.
Lessons to remember. Small goals to meet. It all adds up to living today instead of tomorrow or yesterday. Do that and the next thing you know, six weeks have passed and you are well on your way to health.