SLOW CHANGES

“What’s going on?”
“How are you doing?”
“How is your training going?”
“Are you back at work?”

It’s been 6 weeks since surgery.

I get questions every day from well-meaning people who care.

Which is nice – but I no longer quite know how to answer.

One of the biggest things that surgery has taught me is who actually gives a shit. I have learned who cares in a startling and abrupt way.

I have also learned in a startling and abrupt way who and what I actually care about too.

There are some things that I just can’t be bothered with.

And that’s okay.

That this is not a judgement – there are some people and things that we gravitate toward at certain times in our lives.

And at some point, they become less important.

Because as people, we change. Our interests and priorities change.

That is part of being on this planet for eighty years. We are not the same people today that we were last week.

And that there is no reason to judge ourselves or anything else for changing.

A friend of mine left her church when she went to college. For ten years, she wanted nothing to do with an institution that she felt had no relevance to her life.

Now she has children of her own, and she wants a sense of community from a faith-based organization.

So she has joined a church.

Was leaving wrong?

I don’t think so.

Was joining a church wrong?

I don’t think so either.

Both choices are reflective of the needs of a person in different stages.

We see this in many ways, in our lives every day.

Friends come and go.

We change jobs or departments.

We move cities or neighborhoods.

One year we save $10000 for a trip to Europe; the next year we save for a down payment on a house.

This isn’t wrong. I don’t believe that our past choices are necessarily better or worse than our future choices.

I believe that they are a product of the fact that we are continually growing and learning and changing. Of values changing.

And we are fortunate to be able to do this.

Change is so fundamentally a part of our lives that we commonly start a conversation by asking “what’s new?”

So when people ask how I’m doing, I struggle to answer.

Because I have reached a stage of rehab where the changes are small and slow and incremental. And – to some extent – I feel like I might be judged because there really is no big change. Nothing day to day anyway.

It’s easy to blog about my rehab the first time that I walk alone. When I get an infection or cure it. When I first sleep through the night.

But it’s difficult to sit down and write, “Today I sat and crocheted and let my body heal. And tomorrow I will do the same thing.” “Today I made soup for lunch. Then I went for a 20 minute walk.” Because it’s boring and really no one cares anyway.

blanket and hats
So far I have donated about 30 hats for babies at the Neonatal Intensove Care Unit of the Victoria General Hospital

Top that with the well-meaning comments of those who think that it’s helpful to tell me that I should be back to work or training sooner than my doctor recommends.

Here’s a Rabbit Trail: Why do we applaud those who go against medical advice?

Why do we somehow think that we as lay people know better than the doctors about how long recovery actually takes?

A triathlon friend broke his leg a few months ago.

His doctor advised him to stay off it for 6 weeks, then start physio. No running for another 2 weeks.

He started cycling 4 weeks post-injury and running as soon as the cast was off.

People applauded him for being “brave” and “stubborn.”

But he’s never really healed properly. And it will take him longer to get back to where he was pre-injury. He can’t race this season.

So why do we are humans push ourselves and each other to unhealthy places?

So here is me – mostly following medical advice. Except when I don’t, and I do laundry, and then I pay for it for 3 days.

Sometimes I get stupid questions like “Why so long before u can get back at it?” from people across the country with zero medical training (seriously – if you are ever tempted to send a message like that, just don’t).

A day in the life of Karmen doing what her doctors tell her to do looks like this:

I get up, I drink coffee and eat breakfast with Jim.

wound
My wound, March 18, 2016.

The nurses generally come by around 9:30. Things are looking well, and as of Friday my wound gap was roughly 3” x ¼”. No sign of infection.

I am off all prescription medications.

I putz around on the computer for an hour or so, then I take a nap until lunch.

I make lunch, then rest and crochet for a bit.

I read, and then often go for a short walk late in the afternoon.

By 5pm, I am wiped. I have to rest again.

Jim makes dinner, and we retire and watch TV while crocheting / knitting until bedtime.

That’s kinda my life.

The internal healing will take longer than the external healing.

And I’m at the point where I WANT to get up and do stuff, but every time I overdo it, I find myself in bed for 2 days.

And it’s super frustrating because I can feel the pressure of the world (and inside my own head) saying “You’re being lazy. You should be better by now!?”

And I think it’s hard on the people around me who see me at my best – when I’m out walking or at a doctors appointment. But what they don’t see is the 8 hours a day that I spend sitting so that I can go for that 20 minute walk. And I get tired of explaining that.

Our bodies are the most amazing machines; they can heal themselves. But they need rest. And I, for one, am not great at doing that.

So I get up, carry the laundry, and find myself moving backwards instead of forwards.

So then I have to sit and rest.

I crochet baby hats for the NICU.

I snuggle my puppies. This whine from Snoopy is exactly what I feel when I see my teammates running or swimming.

I want to join them, but I know I’m not ready.

So I wait. And rest. Probably another 6 weeks or so.

Anyone have a time machine?

What would happen if we just stopped judging?

Judging ourselves?

Judging others?

What if we just accepted things for how they are?

What if we thought the best of people instead of the worst?

What if we gave ourselves and the people around us permission to rest?

I need to do that too.

And now – time for a nap.