Taking it Easy or Working Too Hard?


Which is it? Ha! 

I decided to skip the hospital horror stories….

and write about the here & now….

After surgery, you’d think – Oh, she’s taking it easy. She’s being taken care of.  People are letting her lay on the couch and waiting on her. Ain’t so. Especially that being taken care of part.  So I have to balance what I have to do for myself with what I can without hurting myself.

I’m having a really hard time grasping how debilitated I am. Having your abdomen slit open and  surgeons muck around in your guts is a rather traumatic experience. I finally realized why I’ve just not cognitively getting just how traumatic it was.

See, I had breast cancer surgery 5+ years ago. I had double mastectomies and a type of reconstruction called TRAM at the same time. They take the top group of your “6-pack” and move it up where your boob tissue was. Problem is, the skin that is over that area is cut out and they have to stretch the remaining skin down. This would leave your abdomen pretty weak if they didn’t put in a strong mesh fabric to give it support. That’s great; works well. The downside (besides the really horrendous  but well-worth-it recovery) is the nerves are all cut too, so there’s no sensation in the skin layers of my abdomen.

“Great!” you might think. So that big ol’ slash doesn’t hurt. I’m grateful because I’m dreadfully allergic to all the strong pain meds. My heating pad & acetaminophen are my best friends. However, I’ve discovered the big problem.  Pain can be our friend. It lets us know when we are doing something that might damage our body. It lets us know when we’re doing too much. It’s our early warning system.  Get the picture?

No pain at the incision site – no “hey dummy,  time to stop now”. Plus my ADHD meds give me more energy, so when the crash comes, it really comes. Then I’m totally exhausted  & the place where they actually cut into my abdominal cavity is having something to say about my over-activity.

So, by the school of hard knocks  (hard heads?), I’ve figured out about how much activity I can handle. I made it worse by initially not realizing what I was doing. Took me awhile to figure out that even sitting in my office chair for 3 hours isn’t such a good thing. Somehow the way I move around really irritates my belly. The result? Lots of time on the couch. Sleeping late. Not taking my stimulants so I’m not tempted to keep going even further beyond my capacity.

This all sucks. Not so much because I have to lay around. Heck no. It’s because, amazingly, after the surgery a lot of my other aches and pains have evaporated. Joe, my PT god, thinks it’s because I probably had an infection brewing there for months causing even more problems than I had to begin with. Plus, my mental energy level has suddenly improved.  I’m interested in things. I’ve started to read again. I want to do projects. This is amazing!!

I’ll see. Maybe all this laying around will help heal more than just my belly.  It maybe just the thing my knotted and sore muscles need to reset themselves. That would be tremendous. I haven’t been myself, or what I think of as “myself” for a long time. It also has confirmed to me the wisdom of closing my practice. There is so much more I can do to nurture myself & my family without the constant need to nurture patients too.

Yesterday I had the privilege of a visit from an old friend.  She had felt compelled to come see me; she didn’t know about my very recent problems, but just had that 6th sense something wasn’t right. She is an incredibly centered mindful person & has offered to be my wellness coach. To help me get my life into a very healthy place physically, mentally & spiritually.

Everything happens for a reason. What a wonderful gift; it couldn’t have come at a better time. Wonderful but scary. Change can hurt. Well, I’ve got a pretty high pain tolerance. We’ll see what happens next!


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