Wednesday, December 3, 2014

5 Steps to Save Your Sanity After Surgery

Tomorrow, I am having surgery on my left ankle and foot. The procedure is called the "All-American" and I have to stay in the hospital overnight, but I'll touch more on what it is and how we figured out it was necessary in a later post. Fortunately or unfortunately, this is not my first surgery rodeo, so I wanted to share some of my advice for making your recovery as easy as possible.

Coming home from the surgery, I'll be laid up for a LONG time. That means no cooking, no cleaning, no going out and wandering around Target, and no work for at least a couple of weeks. So, for any of you who are going through something similar, whether it is an ankle/foot or anything else that'll keep you laid up for a bit, I thought I would share my strategies to staying sane during the recovery.

1. Create a positive environment 
This will mean something different for everybody, but do what you need to do in order to give yourself a safe and happy place to recover. At its most basic, this means making sure your home is free of obstacles (aka rugs, furniture, and cat toys) that might trip you up while you're moving around. For me, it meant cleaning frantically before the surgery so I'm not staring at a mess while I'm stuck on the couch, and putting up our Christmas decorations so everything around me is sparkly and pretty.

2. Fill the fridge
This is especially important if you live solo or, like me, you do all of the cooking in your home. I love my husband, but his idea of cooking is getting Subway, and that's not sustainable. I prepped enough meals to get us all the way through Christmas, with written instructions for each day that even my non-cooking husband can follow. I also stocked up on ginger ale, saltines, and yogurt. I've had anesthesia before, and it can cause nausea. I also have problems sometimes with my stomach reacting to the pain meds, but years ago learned the trick of taking them with yogurt. It really does help!

3. Find Distractions
Beach vacations have zero appeal for me. Setting aside the fact that my Swedish heritage means I burn in the shade, I am not the kind of person who sits and does nothing well. I am known for my impatience, and so the prospect of being off of work and stuck at home for the next month is not appealing. I've stocked up on yarn to attempt making Christmas gifts, I have books galore, saved some good titles to my Netflix list, and am actually making an attempt to write a novel. Make sure you've got whatever supplies you need close at hand!

4. Utilize Your Community
I am so lucky to have a supportive group of friends and family around me. Between our friends, some of my volunteers at work, and my husband's family over in Connecticut, we've got plenty of people close by who have offered to stop by, say hello, or who have offered help. This is tough for me sometimes, but do not be afraid to ask them if you need something! This can be simple, like bringing over a snack or another book to read. Or, for those folks who actually do want to physically do something, you can keep a list of little things around your home you'd like help with. When I visit friends who are laid up, I actually really like being able to do something for them like folding a load of laundry, wiping down counters, or taking out the trash. Don't be afraid to ask!

5. Set Goals
I am a firm believer in the power of multi-layered goal setting. This includes daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, annual goals, and even big long term ones. My daily goals following the surgery will be to meditate every day, and to write on my novel for thirty minutes. Pretty simple, and nothing physical. That will have to wait until I know where my limits are and how I'm feeling. My big recovery goal, and the one I'll be documenting here on this blog, is to run one of the half-marathons at Disney World. It is something I've been thinking about for a few years, and this seems like the perfect thing to work towards while I'm recovering!

I hope these tips help you with your own recovery. Wish me luck tomorrow!

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