A few days ago I returned to work after undergoing shoulder surgery in early December (2017). Recurrent dislocations resulted in a tear and I was told that surgery was necessary if I expected to have full range of my right arm again. Even though two months recovery from work and physiotherapy were required, I was not prepared for the lack of use of my more dominant arm. I now have a new found respect for persons who learn to walk again or use their limbs from scratch.
During this time off, I was forced to not only take it easy, but be reflective on a few things including the following:
Healing takes time
This is true for every aspect of our lives.
I am generally a calm and patient person but must admit that I am hardest on myself. After surgery I had a personal timeline of when I should be able to complete routine tasks. Needless to say, this didn’t exactly work. As they say, make plans and God laughs. I am now learning to relax, listen to my body and “trust the process”.
My physiotherapist would be pleased to hear me finally admit that patience is required during healing. Too many times during our sessions I stated that I needed to be better in a few days as I “have things to do!”
Yes, I know…(insert face palm here)
I also learnt that full recovery was expected to take up to a year. This made me even more determined to bounce back quicker. I acknowledge that my therapist’s role is mostly to guide me but that the majority of the work results from my approach and consistency.
Self care is important
This is an understatement. Further to the previous point, it’s not only important to take the time to heal, but also take the time to be kind to yourself.
Too often while taking care of others, we forget the importance of self-care. Usually, this is the MOST important.
During my time off, I was very mindful to treat myself well. This not only included rest and relaxation, but how I spent my time, the foods that I ate and even persons I allowed in my space. I felt it was important that as I worked on the physical, I also worked at being in a good space mentally as well.
Scars tell our story
Scars are our perfect imperfections. Before and after my open surgery, I explored ways to cover what I expected to be a hideous scar. I considered various tattoo options which I thought would be cute and badass at the same time.
However the more I thought about it, I realized that I had no desire to cover my scars. They now signified something that I overcame and had sentimental meaning. While the shoulder tattoo is still an option, it definitely will not be used to ‘cover’ any scars 🙂
Strong support system
Humans… sigh, we need them 🙂
Often I wish I could exist in my own bubble, or even planet. During this time, it was evident that we all need persons to lean on during rough periods. I’m eternally grateful to my immediate family and friends who came by, sent get-well gifts, called to see if I needed a ride anywhere or just to get some fresh air. I’m thankful for the persons who checked in to make sure that I was okay and well fed 🙂
What can I say? I love my tribe!
Don’t underestimate the power of positive thinking
Of all the things that we say, we must be mindful of what we say to ourselves.
Sometimes negative thoughts are not intentional but often masked as being realistic. At the beginning, I often thought what if I never gained full range of motion again or worse yet, at all? Whenever this would happen, I immediately told myself that it was not an option.
At my first visit, my physiotherapist would ask me to mentally send messages to my arm. I couldn’t understand what he meant as it was obvious that my arm would not move on its own. However, as I kept trying to “send messages” along with mini pep talks to myself, I gradually gained increased motion.
Over time the more I willed myself to do, the more I did. As cliché as it sounds, positive thinking works!
Desperation breeds ingenuity
When you need to find new ways to do things, you get creative. Ever one to improvise, I found ways to use my left arm and even feet to complete simple tasks. I have become quite resourceful, writing (somewhat legibly) with my left hand. Being a true girly girl, hair and make up can now be completed with only my left hand.
Work will go on
Over the past two years I unfortunately became a workaholic. Staff shortages resulted in my covering multiple vacancies at the same time. I found myself not only working late but even on weekends constantly checking and replying to emails.
This time has forced me to take it easy and focus on my health and my family while acknowledging that work will be handled… and it was.
Our health is indeed our greatest wealth. Often we take for granted how fragile (but amazing) the human body is. It is important to not only take the time for healing of the physical body but also for mental care during recovery period. My surgeon said that it will take up to a year for me to be healed fully and initially I was not happy camper. However now, I am being patient with the process and learning a lot about myself and my body along the way 🙂
Here’s to not so much a “speedy” recovery – but a full and thorough one!