Ha! I sure wish that were true (new do, new me). This whole new me thing is a work in progress and it’s starting from the inside and soon I hope will be seen on the outside. To better explain: right now my body is sleeping A LOT and that’s because it is growing new bone and fusing bones both in my cervical spine and also in my entire right side of my pelvis. It is also healing on a cellular level as well as the muscles, tendons and ligaments are all changing and healing. This “stuff” on the inside can’t be seen and can only be felt by me. I can say for sure that I am not myself lately and I don’t think I will be for several more months.
My “normal” life, as I once knew it, is gone. I can not be active. I can not work. I can not travel, although I’m getting more inclined to try because I so desperately need a change of scenery and to somewhat feel like I’m escaping what I’m going through. I can’t drive myself anywhere. I can’t do anything on a whim. I move so slowly and have learned how fast people move through their own lives. I have to rely on everyone else for almost my every need, which means you’re at the mercy of their schedules, their wants and their plans for their day. I have to use tools and assistive devices to get dressed, to pick up something off the ground, to use the restroom, to shower, etc etc etc. Now I know I’m sounding pretty depressed and in all honestly I’m pretty sure I am. Pain and recovery can do that to a person. Now think about having chronic pain and three surgeries in less than a year with three very difficult recoveries. It’s isolating and lonely. I know there are people out there going through way worse. It’s all relative and right now this is my story.
Slowing down has been a process for me. After my neck injury, I had to wait five months for surgery because of insurance. In that time, I lounged and rested for the acute period of the injury. I had a lot of restrictions so once I was feeling a little better, I still couldn’t do my normal activities. I went through waves of emotions. I felt down and mad I was injured. I was bored. I played tourist in my own city to pass some of the days. I watched endless amounts of tv until I was sick of watching tv. My feelings and emotions would change every few weeks and I started noticing a cycle. Once I had my surgery date set, the hard part of figuring out which surgery was right for me and finding a surgeon I liked and trusted, was over. I turned my focus to preparing the house, my family and myself for the surgery, hospital stay and for the long recovery.
My life had been feeling out of control. I had to wait on insurance and listen to doctor’s orders. I couldn’t do the things I normally enjoyed doing. One thing I could control during this whole time, was getting to the beach. I would walk everyday and it quickly went from a “have to” for exercise to a “need.” It was soothing and peaceful. I had a place I could shut my mind off at or I could process emotions as I walked and listened to the waves. It was my therapy!
Now looking back over all these months, I’m learning that I have slowed down. I’m not as frustrated with it. I’ve quite literally been watching life pass by out my window. I learn what’s going on in the world around me from visitors. This is my time to take a pause. It wasn’t wanted, but sometimes things don’t work out the way you want. Life just keeps trying to make me learn this lesson. I plan my life and then something happens, like these surgeries. I can’t control life and I need to stop trying. I’m learning to stop often to smell the flowers or right now look at the wildflowers, watch a whole series of something on Netflix without the guilt or to have a whole week to just pamper myself. While there are a lot of ugly, difficult things going on for me in recovery right now, there’s also good. I don’t always see it everyday and I’m learning it’s ok. Our society doesn’t like the ugliness of life and it definitely doesn’t encourage talking about it. People don’t want to hear the nitty gritty of recovery, nor do they want to see it. I mean look at social media. Every picture is perfect and the persona is that life is perfect. Well it’s not. Everyone has their ups and downs and a lot of people could benefit from talking about theirs. We are all human, which means we have emotions, needs, wants and we like affection and benefit from touch. Don’t just share the “perfects” of your life, be honest and ask for help when it’s needed or share the not so perfects of your life. I guarantee someone will be able to relate. So I am using this blog as a sort of journal therapy for myself and also for others to hopefully be able to understand more about recoveries and the “uglies” of life. I hope someone finds this helpful and can maybe feel less lonely. Maybe my openness will even encourage you to go share your true feelings with someone. Chat with someone you see in public that has a disability. Take the time to hear their story and maybe share yours. Give someone a hug when they tell you they are struggling or maybe give a hug just because!
I know that I am going to be a different person after everything I have gone through. The time between neck surgery and hip surgery, has only been four months, but I can already tell differences in my personality and general outlook. I have a long road ahead of me. I was recently talking to a close friend (who ironically was the surgical case after mine with one of my hip surgeons) and she was talking about finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I told her that my tunnel had shadows, meaning there’s a light somewhere I just can’t see it yet. The good thing is that there’s a light though! That sums up how I’ve been feeling lately. There’s not enough PT to really feel like I’m doing anything or making much progress. I still have pain, I’m still on all sorts of medication and I still am spending most of the day in bed. However, I’m on less and less meds, my pain is totally different then it was right after surgery which means I’m healing, I’ve started water therapy, I’ve improved on my crutches and I can tolerate sitting in my recliner for a little longer. Not all good and not all bad. So basically, shadows.
Anyway, to get back to the new do and feeling better on the outside. Sometimes a girl just needs some pampering. I’m not getting outside in the sun as much as I’m used to, so my friend gave me some body lotion and face lotion that gives a natural glow like you’ve been in the sun. My hands and feet got massaged and my nails got painted a happy pink color. The biggest change was chopping my hair! I haven’t been able to actually style my hair for so long due to my restrictions. I’ve felt that it’s gross when it’s up and it’s in the way when it’s down. I can’t tilt my head back to get it into a “good” ponytail, it gets caught in my crutches and in the way of the handles on the wheelchair. All in all, I was ready for a change. I looked through Pinterest for tons of pictures and ideas and then one day got so fed up with it, I booked the appointment. I was ready, beyond ready. I went through with it and I love it!!! I got about six inches chopped off. It feels so fresh and light. What really matters, is that I just feel better. So in a way, yea, a new do-a new me!