Updated: Mar 15, 2021
I started off the year having surgery. It was minor, thankfully, but I was dreading it. I was worried about what kind of pain I would experience and how recovery would go. I am a great nurse but a terrible patient. I was told that I was not to lift anything heavier than a jug of milk, and no vigorous exercise for 6 weeks. A huge part of my mental health self care routine alternated between running and strength training; however treatment necessitated that it be put on hold. Endurance would have eventually have to be rebuilt. The temporary halt over what I could do normally from ordinary things like working, taking trash out, vacuuming, even lifting my sweet granddaughters was hard for a control freak like me! Anticipation was stressful, I was concerned about going from a state of wellness to needing to ask for help.
Five weeks out from the procedure I can say that taking a break from work as a staff nurse has been an uplifting time, a kind of retreat. Obedience to my body and its new limitations has brought gratitude for every step of progress. The pain was not as bad as I had imagined and I have embraced the slower movement of taking daily walks, which has allowed me to appreciate the beauty of nature in the stark season of winter. Patience with the process has been a gift. Sharing with you a few things I have learned along the way...
Nourishing your body after surgery
Consider that food is medicine, so eating well after surgery is important. As always check with your physician, dietician first and for specific individual direction. Healthy fats and lean proteins promote tissue repair. Vitamins and minerals contain antioxidants and healing properties involved in tissue healing as well as supporting immune system function. Fiber sources keep your digestive process running smoothly. Think about eating healthfully for your gut , not only for good digestion but also to prevent further pain and complications arising from becoming constipated. Pain medications can also cause problems with gas and constipation so be sure to keep that in mind when choosing foods. This article by the medical team at Verywell Health gives examples of what to eat or avoid.
Being a patient is not easy. Lean into this new role with gratitude and patience. Give thanks for your body many times throughout the day . Look at every small step as a huge victory. Have compassion with yourself, let others do for you- it makes them feel good too! Think about new hobbies or activities that will bring joy- making puzzles, engaging in an easy craft project, crossword puzzles, board games, reading. Consider limiting social media- it keeps us from moving for long periods of time and make us fall into the trap of comparing ourselves which can lead to discouragement and negative self talk.
Sometimes being at home during recovery can feel very isolating from the outside world. Have lunch or coffee with a friend ( or a phone /zoom) call - this will greatly lift your soul and your mind! Get outside if able fresh air and nature connects your mind to your soul, is distracting, and refreshing ( do not focus on the weather- focus on noticing the beauty around- flowers, bees, squirrels) Daily movement is so important to healing and restoration it should be almost a prescription as in physical therapy. Little steps lead to bigger ones, celebrate all victories- give your self a high five! Sometimes pain happens along with this aspect but embrace moving your body- and eat so that you have the energy to do this, if pain medicine is needed then take it! Research has long shown that those that move after surgery are the ones that heal faster and better. Move with your body though, not against it.
Create space for daily mediation, journaling and prayer - this can be your mini reset or retreat. Express much gratitude- for making it through surgery, for every day, the bad ones included. Keep God at the center of your healing process, he loves you and is the ultimate healer.