Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How to recovery from surgery.

When I had knee surgery I thought: you have the surgery, you spend a few weeks in bed, then you go about your life.

Wrong.

Recovery is a long process which has different stages, speeds and time intervals. Your body heals faster than you think it will, but it recovers much slower than you ever imagined.

Thank your body for its capacity to heal and then, respect your body’s need for recovery. Here’s the process.

1. Just out of surgery, gratitude is the mode. Your job is to rest in bed and be relieved that your surgery is Just. Plain. Over. Your body has suffered an invasion and needs to recompose itself, detoxing from the anesthesia. Healing sleep is all you need.

2. Feeling enormously better with each day. Drinking, eating, peeing and pooping. These last two become very important after surgery. They indicate that all systems are working again.

3. You will have little triumphs. You will be able to life your head or roll over or sit up. The first time you sit up, stand up, walk, you will be dizzy. The first time you will be able to walk again. The first time you can use a toilet and take a shower will seem to your like a major miracle.

4. Time to go home. You felt fine in the hospital bed – and now, just getting into the wheelchair, into the car, into your house – and on your bed is exhausting. Everything seems impossible. Hours ago you were chafing to get out of the hospital, and now you’re overwhelmed by the responsibilities of taking care of yourself. Time to ask your friends to rally around. Whenever someone asks you if they can do something for you or cook a meal, say yes.

5. Your wound heals, but then begins recovery of the muscles and joints. Ask the doctor how long the process takes. I kept thinking something was wrong with me, when actually, I was just going through the painful weeks of recovery and getting my muscle tone back. It might actually take 6 months to a year before you are fully recovered. No one ever tells you this when you decide on surgery.

6. It seems like an eternity when you’re trying to recover from surgery. But when you look back, it will seem to have gone quickly. Don’t be impatient. Expect setbacks, sore muscles, visits to the doctors, changes in meds.

7. Then, one day…you will feel recovered and “normal.” Give thanks.

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