You may know by now that I had surgery a month ago to remove a watermelon-sized cyst from my ovary. I guess I was in denial about how serious this would be, because when my friend Jessica asked how long recovery would take, I said “I don’t know. I guess about two weeks.” Two weeks beyond that initial statement and I’m still lying on the sofa in pajamas. It’s difficult to believe it’s been a month already, and that I’ve essentially been lying around like a house cat for four weeks. Five actually – because I felt like hell the week before the operation and canceled everything I had on my schedule.
Recovering from a surgery or illness can be rather tough on the mind and spirit (not to mention the body). Simple things like getting up to take a shower can be a lot of work – if you can get up to take a shower at all. There are things you’re used to doing that you just can’t. I tried to make dinner one night last week but ended up giving Dennis instructions on how to finish it and left the kitchen to lie down. I can’t carry anything, so I can’t do laundry, and I can’t even pick up my cats. What I can do is websurf, watch television and read, which is pretty much what I’ve been doing. I have managed to stay sane though it though (so far anyway!).
Here are my top ten tips for coping with recovery:
- Go Easy on Yourself. Take this time to relax and recover. Don’t worry about what it is that you could be doing but aren’t. Think of it as a staycation of sorts.
- Get Netflix. If you don’t have Netflix or Hulu Plus, now is the time. If you’re worried about becoming a couch potato later, just cancel it when you’re feeling better.
- Laugh. That saying about laughter being the best medicine is true. Studies have shown that state of mind has a lot to do with illness and recovery, and watching comedy certainly helps improve state of mind. Norman Cousins did research on the biochemistry of emotions and is said to have cured himself of illness by taking high doses of vitamin C and watching the Marx Brothers every day.
- Go Easy with Your Entertainment. I took a book with me to the hospital, but I had a difficult time concentrating enough to read, so I asked Dennis to pick up a few magazines for me. This isn’t a good time to read War and Peace. Don’t read anything too heavy or watch anything too serious. (This goes along with laughter being the best medicine.)
- Rest and Relax. Sleep, take naps, listen to relaxing music and do whatever you can to give your body and mind a break.
- Meditate. Meditation can help relax the body if you’re having problems resting. This can be a stressful time, but meditation will help reduce stress, giving the body space to heal. There are guided meditations specifically for healing – just look around online and find one or two that you like.
- Pamper Yourself. You might not be able to head out to the spa for a day of massages and pedicures, but you can spend some time on yourself at home. For the past few weeks I’ve been slathering myself with lavender body butter every day, and I’ve even painted my nails a sparkly pink – something I haven’t done since I was in junior high. The thinking behind my nail polish choice was that it’s difficult to be a in a bad mood when you’re covered in glitter.
- Stay Connected. Lying around the house with limited mobility when everyone else is at work or doing errands can get depressing. Stay connected with your friends through email and with social networking sites.
- Give Yourself Something to Look Forward To. I bought tickets to see Of Mice and Men on Broadway before I knew I was going to need surgery, but they just so happen to be for later in April. I’m looking forward to feeling better so I can spend some time out in New York City!
- Reward Yourself. I bought myself a super cute dress as a treat for putting up everything I’ve been through in the past month. I’m looking forward to wearing it when I feel better!
Have you had to deal with an illness, injury or surgery lately? What did you do to help yourself recover?