The Independent Girl’s Guide to Surgery Recovery

In hospitals they ask you rate your level of pain on a scale from 1-10. I never know what answer is the most fitting because I’ve realized I have a high threshold for pain. Actually that’s not true. It’s probably more accurate to say that I have a habit of sitting with pain for awhile before I hit my limit & realize I need to ask for help. That’s true both literally & figuratively for me. But right now I’m sticking with the literal: cuz a sista is in pain right now. But I’m learning to deal with it, and along the way have learned a few other lessons in these past 48 hours that I thought I’d share (and kinda wish I’d known before).

      1. Ask for help. As soon as you need it, whenever you need it. People’s jobs are about helping you so don’t be afraid to ask for the damn help you need rather than suffering in silence. If you have family and friends around, let them take care of you. Let them know how much they’re appreciated of course. But yeah, ask AND accept help.

     2. Take it easy. Now yes, recovery takes time. And yes, you have to push yourself to do things you’re used to doing easily. But still, taking baby steps is important. It’s better to make some progress than push yourself so hard that you damage something or fall- that’s working backwards. Trust me, I’m learning that. Today, my first full day home, I’ve found myself looking around my home wanting to do something. Should I read one of these books on my nightstand? Should I catch up on my emails? My gut instinct is to be superwoman and surpass expectations. But I’ll keep it real- getting up is a challenge for me right now. I’m doing it because I have to and I need to, even though I feel like I’m  moving like Sophia from the Golden Girls. And even though I have plenty I could do, I get tired easily. As one of my friends so accurately pointed out —ummm, yeah I did just have major surgery so rest is necessary (it wasn’t heart surgery or brain surgery or anything, but you know what I’m saying.). So I’m pushing superwoman aside and settling for regular-schmegular,  as Cardi B would say. When in doubt, listen to your body.

That leads me to the next one.

3. If at all possible, start moving as soon as you can. So here’s the thing, at some point you have to get back to your normal life. That means being able to to get back to your regular pace, and if you work out, back to being able to do that and account for the time you’ve been out of commission. Obviously how soon you’re able to do that depends on the procedure you’re having. But I know with mine, the doctor wanted me at least up walking around the next day. The key words though are to pace yourself. Don’t think you’re gonna be jogging and on the treadmill day one. Take it bit by bit. For instance the first day I walked some and did some stairs. Today I tried the stairs up and down on my own. Tomorrow I’ll walk some more and do more. I’ll start trying to do real distance when I feel I can. Not sure when I’ll make it back on the treadmill let alone see my old workouts again. But I won’t sit idle. As my nurses told me, not moving could lead to blood clots (which nobody wants) in addition to other possible complications. On the other side of that coin is that doing too much could also cause complications. So that happy medium is key.

       4. Give yourself a break.Your body needs time to heal so let it. Each moment and each day will be different. Each person is different so you can’t compare your recovery against someone else. Just cut yourself some slack and focus on healing. You may not be able to sleep for long periods because pain is real and you have medicine for a reason (although I am being real about it and writing down what time I take all mine so there’s no over-doing it.) Real talk: as Miss Independent, I’m not in love with the fact that I have to pace myself like a kid learning how to walk just to get around. Also not in love with the fact that I’ve learned the hard way to avoid some of my social media TLs because of all the stuff that cracks me up HURTS like mutha (man listen, I feel ALL my incision when I laugh.) But it is what it is. Each moment is different and as they say: slow and steady wins the race.

Anyway, I hope this helps someone that is a newbie to the surgery game like I was.

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