Tag Archives: stress

Recovery

7 May

Recovering from surgery is an interesting journey. Being my first and hopefully only major surgery, I had no expectations or knowledge of how I would feel. I had seen my Mom recovery from surgery, but even that did not prepare me for my own.

I’m an independent woman who prefers to get on with things. Once the complications I was having were diagnosed, I just wanted to have the surgery so I could get on with recovering to enjoy life as I had previously. Well…that’s not quite the way things go after surgery; at least not with my recovery.

I had a surgeon who believes, after a hysterectomy, to remove the catheter a mere 3 hours after surgery, to get the patient up and walking the halls 6 hours after surgery and to discharge the patient the next morning – because in the downtown core of major cities, patients are sent home the day of surgery. The oddness of this is that the night shift nurse said that he always leaves the catheter in overnight with his patients to allow them to fully rest without the need to get up.

He tried to expedite the process, however my body had other plans. With the anesthetic, Gravol and morphine running through my veins, just walking to the washroom a mere three feet away from the hospital bed proved too much and I fainted. After unsuccessful trips to the washroom every two hours throughout the night, the nurse catheterized me again. *given my somewhat superstitious nature, I told myself that as it was my third catheterization in three days, it would be my last….and it was!

As much as I would have preferred another night in the hospital, away from the busy energy of my household, I was discharged. The nurse was kind enough to let me stay until I had my noon pain medication and lunch before leaving. The option to stay was not offered, not did it seem to be an option even though I felt in no shape to leave.

When I mention my busy household, I’m not saying that in jest. We are a family of five with two dogs, a cat, a lovebird and a horse. Our two dogs, a Boxer and Boston terrier cross, are both high energy, one year old pups. The male boxer particularly, is like a toddler in the persona of a dog. Our cat is a purebred, Persian, who thinks he is a prince; like all male cats I’ve heard. He is lucky to have a good temperament and to be the most adorable cat in the world because as of late, he has been peeing on our leather couch and two chairs. I digress.

My resting place for the past two weeks has been our living room couch. Thank goodness it’s very comfortable with the perfect amount of firmness. It’s become my thoughtful spot, not only out of necessity, but because the thought of climbing the partial spiral staircase to the bedroom seemed insurmountable.

Lessons I learned on the couch – everyone reacts different when you’ve had surgery, I have difficulty asking for help, feeling helpless is emotionally overwhelming, recovery looks different even if the surgery is the same, respect your pain, nap often, get up and walk every hour, drink a lot of fluids, be patient with yourself and others.

I was surprised to watch my husband who, rather than feel it was enough to look after me my first few days home, busied himself with backyard renovations, vacuuming and washing the floors, cleaning up the dishes and looking after the animals without once asking my three teens for help. I watched as he exhausted himself and finally crashed yesterday after donating blood and trying to move 10 yards of topsoil from the driveway into the backyard gardens. Maybe it was too uncomfortable for him just to sit with me? Was it difficult to watch me wince in pain, walk slowly, not have enough strength to do more than lay on the couch? I imagine it was. I observed my husband’s stress, which was almost palpable.

My oldest daughter made herself available, doing homework close by just in case I needed something. While she held it together with her heavy school load and caring or me, a few days after my surgery she shed some tears in overwhelm. My son cried as he told me he had not slept the night he came to visit me in the hospital and that it was hard to see me after the surgery. He is a sensitive soul who would sit with me, talking and asking questions but retreated to his room as soon as his Dad or one of his sisters came into the room. My middle daughter really did not seem to be present often. She rarely stayed in the room with me, and if I asked her to do something for me or get something, it seemed to be an imposition on her time. Her energy was very closed off as she protected her own space to deal with things in her own way.

My Mom came over on a few occasions to take over caring for me and I must admit, it was nice to have her here. She sang while she cleaned and cooked, chatted with our animals, gave me pep talks and we engaged in meaningful conversation. We seldom have one on one time, so even though I was recovering from surgery, I enjoyed her company. It reminded me that growing up we always had music on in the house, or someone was playing the piano and singing. I was comforted by my Mom’s presence.

Now that I’m just over 2 weeks into my recovery, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I listen to my body to know when to rest and nap, I’ve started a daily meditation practice, I can walk at a slow normal pace and I’m incorporating new healthful foods into my diet. Thanks to my friend and Naturopath I now enjoy a daily cup of warm cacao drink, love rose-hip and hibiscus tea and sauerkraut! She gifted these items to me post-surgery to help with my recovery. I still have some pelvic health issues to work on as I recover and post-recovery but I’m taking it one day at a time. Showers are still exhausting! The insurmountable staircase is manageable with more ease but my legs complain.

Just remember, if you have surgery…your recovery will be unique to you and your body. If you friend bounced back after 2 to 3 weeks, that does not mean you will too. Recovery period is 4 to 6 weeks! Though to others you appear to look normal, healthier colour in your cheeks, walking at a normal pace, getting your own food, reading, watching TV, no longer wincing in pain…remember you had major surgery. Your body needs time to recover. Pay attention to those little twinges of pain because it means you need to rest or that you are overdoing it. No heavy lifting, no strenuous exercise. You set the pace because you know your body better than anyone else; at least I hope you do.

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Full of Anxt

22 Jun

It’s 1:30am and as I see the panic in my son’s eyes I wish there was something I could do to take away his anxiety. As an adult who lives with anxiety, I have developed coping skills to deal with my racing mind and sometimes heart. I know to breathe deeply and remind myself that all is well. How do you teach your child to do the same?

At the young age of 9, it started. Well, in hindsight, I think it started when he was a toddler however it became full-blown at age 9 with the prospect of changing schools in the fall. Sleep became a distant dream on Sunday evenings. School became a place that only caused panic and uneasiness. Did he have to go to school on Monday morning?

From the girl who shared horror stories on the bus ride home if he did not share his iPod, to the cool boys who got mad when he missed the goal or did not kick the ball hard enough during recess soccer, to the super hero movies he so wanted to watch but that caused him increased anxiety…it all took a toll. I wanted to shelter him from it all.

My heart ached for him and we saw his school grades plummet by the end of the school year. What happened to my easy-going son, who engaged in enthusiastic conversation, smiled often and made people laugh. I wanted him to feel happy again and not to worry at such a young age about so many things. I wanted to keep him at his old school where everyone knew his name to call out when he walked past them in the hallway, the teachers and I were on a first name basis from my active volunteering, where the classrooms and staff were familiar.

Changing schools was much more challenging than we ever anticipated. Though he was in the same class as his one of his best friends, he still seemed lost at recess, felt overwhelmed with the larger two-floor school. There was a lack of the use of technology that he loved in his old school. Now school was a boring place where he sat in his seat all day and had to write and print everything in a workbook. It seemed there was little in school that engaged him to want to learn anymore. How sad to find school that boring?! 

We are happy to see the end of this school year because it means no homework struggles every evening, no more tears of frustration over how much of a page he had to fill with sentences. He is higher than normal in the range of anxiety for boys his age. I will not pursue an IEP with further assessment. I will not label him to further increase his anxiety about standing out as different. I will not give him prescription drugs. I simply want him to learn some coping techniques, to learn how to identify the feelings of anxiety, frustration, or worry and use his new skills to relax. Is that too much to ask?

antibiotics vs natural healing

18 Feb

My decision free day did not happen. I don’t think it’s possible to live through a day without making any decisions. I make decisions all the time, not thoughtful deliberation, but the things I do every day need some amount of thought process which I consider decision-making.

I guess my challenge is to stop stressing over the little decisions I make: what to wear, what to eat, where to go, what to do and when, how much effort to put into something, what to make, when to make it, etc.  My only major decision so far this week has been whether to give my daughter antibiotics for her ear infections.

Now to some of you, this might be an auto-pilot decision of yes, or no. I am of two minds on the topic of antibiotics. I know the ear infection would heal naturally, however in the meantime she suffers from extreme pain. I can give her pain meds, a warm compress, olbas oil rubs and love, but the pain still overwhelms her at certain times of the day and night. It is during these moments I do not have the strength to follow through with what my mind is telling me to do. I cannot watch her suffer when I know giving her antibiotics will clear up the infection quicker. If she was not dancing this weekend in the showcase, I may have held off one more day to see how she fared.

At this point, she’s had one dose and we must continue with the antibiotics for the full 10 day course. Ugh…I feel such guilt and even some shame over what I am doing to her body and natural immune system by giving her the drugs. Yes, I will make sure she also receives immune support to rebuild what she’s losing of her good bacteria, but it doesn’t ease my feelings.

What’s done is done and there’s no point in rehashing my decision. Sometimes I must follow what my heart is telling me to do without question. I need to shed the guilt and let it go. Not sure how easy it will be in the morning when it’s time for a dose of the gag inducing horrid tasting stuff!

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