"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Over the Line



I walked through the challenges of the first three weeks like a deer eating her way through the tender leaves and buds of June roses—the thorns barely registering. Every new day brought the gift of new healing, less pain, an ability restored. Last weekend brought my first opportunity to go out into the world, and I embraced that as fully as I had all the rest.

Saturday was lunch out with my dear friend, Patricia, then a long and satisfying visit at home with my teammate and friend, Kelly. I was tired at the end of the day. Well more than tired, but I had an even better day planned for Sunday, so I ignored it.

Sunday was the first day since my surgery that looked and felt like a regular day. Walt and I went to breakfast at The Cricket, our favorite place on Belmont in Portland. Then we went to drumming class just down the street. Then we went to Costco. It was a perfect late fall day, cool and crisp and dry. A pretty standard Sunday for us. Fun. Productive. Relaxed.

Except for all the other Sundays I hadn't just had major surgery three weeks before. And by the time we got home I could barely move. I found Tylenol and ice and my chair while Walt unloaded and put away everything, and got dinner together. I couldn't get comfortable at bedtime and spent the night right on the edge of sleep, beyond exhausted.

I had an appointment Monday morning, which my kind friend Daune drove me to. I actually felt pretty well for that, but by the time Daune dropped me off at home just before noon, I knew I was done for the day. And maybe done for more than just a day.

Perhaps the hardest part of this whole process has been to allow my body to tell me how much I can do each day. To be present and to listen carefully. Nothing is automatic and I have to consider each step I take and each task I choose to take on. Energy is a finite resource, and when it runs out, I sputter to a stop like an unwound wind-up toy. There is no pushing through as I could in pre-surgery days.

So when last weekend my body seemed to say, yes let's try stepping out into the world, I embraced the permission like a long lost friend.

 And I stopped listening to the signals.

It's a pattern for me. This is not the first time I've found myself facing a line. On one side is optimal circumstance, exactly where I'm supposed to be. Experience tells me the other side is too much. But because the line moves—every day I can do a little bit more than I could the day before, in life as well as in this healing process—I feel the need to test it constantly. I nudge. I push. I step over.

I step back. This week I took a giant step back. For three days I iced and rested and walked and exercised and iced and rested some more. I listened carefully to every little thing my body had to say. I did what it asked without complaint. By yesterday I was sleeping better, the soreness had receded, and there was a literal spring in my step. I realized I could take several balanced steps without my walker, and I managed a 40 minute outside walk with my walker.

It's a new weekend and my body is saying, Okay let's try this again. Today I'm going to drive for the first time. A short distance, with Walt in the car beside me so if my body says enough, I'll be able to listen and step back. Tomorrow we're going to Tacoma to hear my brother Mark sing in his church's Christmas program, a yearly tradition that is one of my favorite holiday events. Walt will drive. I'll sit in a correct posture, wearing my compression hose. We'll take breaks so I can walk. I'll take ice and Tylenol. I'll nap on the way home. I'll stay behind the line.

I know I'll challenge the line again. Sooner rather than later probably. Like my blue eyes and my curved pinkies, wanting just a little bit more seems to be an unalterable part of me. Fortunately, knowing that, and feeling the consequences of overstepping this last week, will keep me from wandering too far away from myself. At least for a little while.

14 comments:

Linda Myers said...

That has been my husband Art's experience also. So much you want to do, and then you run out of energy. Wonderful that you're on the mend, though.

Terra said...

That is good you are being cautious about how much you do, which will help you avoid any more setbacks. I know it must be very tempting to do "just one more thing", but like you said, listen to your body and all will be well.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Oh yes, I remember that well. You want recovery to be a steady upward slope, and then you cant that slope a little too steeply and - oops - you slide back a bit. Enjoy the holiday season while doing less than you'd really like, so you can head into 2013 with new energy!

Richard said...

Sounds like you are making good progress. You'll be back to your normal routine before you know it, and, hopefully, without the pain.

DJan said...

You reminded me in a very forceful way of my own healing from a fractured pelvis. I can still remember the day I walked with crutches to the end of the street, and how awful I felt for days afterwards. This is big progress, but those fits and starts are normal setbacks. I'm so thrilled to see you writing here, it's simply made my day, Deb. Sending you healing vibes. :-)

Linda Reeder said...

I am listening closely to these healing processes as others describe them. These things are in my future.

yaya said...

Our bodies are such wonderful creations and they keep giving even when we take advantage of their generosity! I know exactly what happens in the OR during those surgeries and even knowing that I'm sure I would push myself also. Just keep listening to your bod and one day you'll be surprised that you won't need any painkillers and were able to walk without assistance or a nap! You're doing great!

kario said...

Baby steps do get frustrating, don't they? Glad you are doing so well and having so many great opportunities to be with friends. I'll bet your students can't wait to get you back.

Dee said...

Dear Deb, learning to listen to and respect my body and its needs has been one of the hardest lessons of my past ten years. But finally, I've gotten the message that my body has needs and that it will inform me of these if I silence my wants and listen. I'm glad that's happening for you also. It leads to gratitude for this holy body that has served us so well for so long. Peace.

#1Nana said...

So good to hear that you are doing so well. You are wise to pay attention to the signals and to take it easy. It's sometimes hard to find the balance of moving forward at just the right pace. By the new year you will really be a new woman!

Amber said...

Remember your yoga lessons! You don't have to do it all. Listen... A little bit more every day.

:)

deborahjbarker said...

We should all listen to our bodies more Deb, both for when to stop and when to go. We know ourselves best! I hope you continue to improve in leaps and bounds, maybe not leaps...keep well! Debbie

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I think the drugs used to make us comfortable to bear the surgery play a huge role once e we are done being cut. I think the stuff has some residue effect and we are not warned that it will cause us to falsely assess how we are really doing. But it's good to learn you are mending under the changed circumstances.

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