Recovering from serious illness or injury…
It’s now been 7 weeks post-op for me and I am starting to feel human again, getting out and about and slowly starting to see my body respond as I get back in to my regular exercise routine. Despite feeling increasingly upbeat, I have to say it has not all been rainbows, unicorns and fairy floss! There have been days when I have hidden under the doona and refused to come out, days when I have spent all day in my pyjamas and others when I have been frustrated as all ^&@#$%*!
As some of you might remember I had a fairly serious accident on the pushie a while back that left me with some pretty hideous injuries. That, coupled with recent events, how to ‘heal’ from serious injury or illness has been quite topical. Despite those that have approached me with lots of ‘really good advice’ I still believe it’s a particularly grey area and no one person has ‘the answer’ on how to ‘heal’ better than you however, I have put together some tips that I hope you will find make the transition from your bed back to ‘normal’ (whatever that is!) a bit easier:
- Get lots of sleep. This is probably not that hard to do in the first few days post-op, but make sure you get more than the average 7-8 hours. Your body needs to heal and sleep is where it can really start to recalibrate. Don’t feel bad for taking a siesta, in fact try to! If you are on any medication that causes insomnia I highly recommend Glenn Harrold’s Relax & Sleep Well Self-hypnosis tracks.
- Get some new bed clothes. After my second surgery I was really starting to feel pretty ordinary and when Tate walked in the door with a set of new PJs it gave me a real lift. Not just because of the gorgeous gesture, but because it made me feel a whole lot less like a grot. Who says you can’t be glamorous when you’re sick? If you’re all over the PJs/nightdress business then perhaps treat yourself to some new sheets/cushions/pillows/doona covers, etc.
- Limit your visitors. As well-meaning as your friends and family might be, keeping up appearances for other people is exhausting! Don’t do it! Try and limit your visitors where possible (particularly in the beginning) so you can conserve your energy for getting well. Also, don’t feel bad if you have arranged for someone(s) to visit and it turns out on the day that you are just not up to it. True friends will understand and won’t mind coming at another time.
- Move your body every single day. However small the movement might be make sure you get your limbs moving…whilst remembering that now is not the time to try breaking any world records! This is so important for your circulation and to get your bowels moving post-op. If you need help getting around or don’t feel confident on your own, this is when you call in the cavalry. Yes, actually ask for help! (this has been HUGE for me to learn!).
- Limit sugar and caffeine. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a coffee, in fact it might give some people a much needed boost however, any more than one a day is going to give your adrenals a slap and lots of sugary foods are going to fuel any post-op virus/infection that may be trying to take hold whilst your immune system is compromised. In addition, make sure you take on board any requests from your health team on what foods/liquids they may want you to avoid for a period of time – we don’t tell you this for laughs.
- Surrender. You are sick. Your body needs you to be gentle and it needs time to heal. Make sure you have adequate time off work/study and someone to look after pets/kids and cover any other commitments you may have. There will be people that you will assume will be there for you and they won’t be, but there will also be people who will step up and surprise you. Don’t let those that disappoint you upset you. Conserve your energy and do your best to just roll with it.
- Make sure you attend your follow-up appointment(s) – even if you are feeling great! I have lost count the number of times I have seen people come in through those big glass doors with infections or serious complications that could have been picked up earlier if only they had turned up for their post-op appointments. Besides looking after your own health, it’s manners and when you do a ‘no show’ it means you wasted valuable time that could have gone to someone else who needed it.
- Submit your paperwork to your insurance company and/or Medicare right away. It’s easy to let these things slide and say “I’ll look at that when I am better” but six weeks (or months) down the track you may forget important details that are required to ensure you get the right amount of $ back. It’s also a lot easier if you happen to misplace any documents to get them replaced whilst your medical team have your patient file handy. If you are not already set up with Medicare for online rebates I highly recommend you do this before you go in to hospital for any planned procedures. N.B. Depending on your procedure some insurance companies require that you inform them before the procedure so it’s always wise to check so you are not financially disadvantaged later on.
- Talk to someone. This might not be appropriate in all circumstances but if you have been involved in an accident or some kind of trauma it helps to talk about it. You might not feel ready to chat about it right away and it might take you some time to find the right person (friend or professional) but believe me, don’t leave it. It’ll creep up on you if you do and it won’t be pretty (e.g. cue relationship meltdowns either at work or home or both). If you’re unsure if you’re ‘okay’ it is a good idea to see your GP for a mental health assessment. They can set you up with a mental health plan and make sure you get all the appropriate entitlements in terms of $ if you need to be referred to another practitioner.
- Finally, make sure you have some quiet activities (e.g. reading, writing, movies) to keep you sane! I keep a list of books I want to read and movies I want to watch on Evernote so I am not climbing the walls should any unexpected ‘downtime’ come my way.
In love and health,
Feature image: no known credit.