Tag Archives: inactivity

Physical Fit: The impatient patient

It has been said that doctors, nurses… well almost any healthcare professional make the worst patients. I can probably, and shamefacedly, admit to being precisely that. I am no exception. I can say that being on the other side of the desk, treatment, etc. just does not suit my own proclivities.

I wonder sometimes if it is just part and partial of the nature and personality of an individual choosing the healthcare career path, or if it is something that happens because we’ve come to know too much, or perhaps, more likely still, we prefer to be in control of the situation than being forced to let others control the situation for us. Yes, we are as a species slightly control-freakish.

Without going into the the gory details, I recently was forced to undergo major surgery. I’ve been lucky in my life to have not been subjected to the skills of surgeons (excepting maxilofacial and oral). I still have tonsils and appendix. Let me tell you now, it is not something lightly approached to have a “right gutting” as my spouse has quaintly put it. Even when it is for the purpose of correcting a more serious issue (as in my case), which ultimately will result in improved overall health (I hope), it can be way more of an impact to the body and life than you might otherwise expect given all that is said about modern medical procedures. It probably didn’t help matters that I am blessed with some rather inconvenient allergies to most pain relieving medications. This resulted in me being a challenge for anesthetists and nurses to find a way to manage my rather excruciating post-op discomfort… (remember the “right gutting?”). That pretty much is all I will say about the adventure of the hospital and my rather stubborn desire to escape back to my cave where, like a wounded animal, I felt I could lick my wounds and snap back to being almost human.

And about that “snapping back” thing… This is where my patience at being a patient has been sorely … ha! (see what I did there)… tested. As those of you who have followed my journeys and ramblings these few years may have noted, I have become a rather active gal. Part of this was due to my increasing dismay and the middle-aged spread that had overtaken my body in a way which displeased me greatly. At least, that was probably the main instigator of the fit that I pitched, but over time, the running and lifting things had also become a comfort and source of stress relief (no, I sincerely never actually thought those words would come from my head).

Suddenly… like literally in the course of about 90 minutes in an operating theater, I went from active to forced inactivity projected for 6 to 8 weeks. Of course, I had this delusion that I would not require that much time. I mean, for real, I went in with pretty good physical condition… well, as far as eating right and exercise, always excepting the actual source of the problem which required the surgery. Somewhere in my head still resides this person who thinks she is still 20, or maybe even 16 and can just bounce back from any injury.

And boy howdy, did I receive some strong-talk info to the contrary from my poor beleaguered body so recently traumatized (though therapeutically). For a while, the whole pain thing made inactivity tolerable because moving was not tolerable (neither was many bodily functions over which there is relatively little control… but I digress). Finding out that your core muscles are engaged or used for things you probably never consciously thought about was not fun: Walking upright, standing up, lowering oneself to a seat, or even trying to stay upright in a chair. Who knew? Sneezing, coughing, even laughing would cause less that pleasant reminders that I had an abdominal injury. Point of fact… it hurt. A lot.

However, time does heal some wounds… at least, it has for the physical ones I sustained. I started walking about more and doing little things for myself… showering and getting dressed, for instance. So, while the pain became less and less apparent, the fatigue from recovery and blood loss still kept me from my normal existence. Impatience raised its ugly head every time while I chastised myself with “Seriously, you used to run 5 miles, but you need a nap from putting on pants?!?” All the while, my friends and family were providing the background singers to my body with “Take it easy… you know you just had surgery, right?”

Did I mention I’m inpatient, and not a good patient? I tried to push myself, to which my body stood its formal and rather insistent objections by placing my ass firmly on the couch for a full day to recover from that little effort.

But I’m getting there. Truly. It’s been almost 5 weeks. I’m still not allowed to run, lift, or sing (yes, sing… can’t strain the abdominal muscles). Hopefully soon. Not being able to work out or run has driven me, ever so slightly bats. I’ve watched almost every documentary available on Amazon Prime, and I’m really quite ready to be off my sedentary butt and getting back to it, but I must wait… So, for now, I will find other ways of discharging my stress, and I remain somewhat impatient as a patient.

The Sargasso of Intellect and Industry… In other words the Internet


I remember a time when my ability to multitask and utilize wasted moments was legendary. I could get more done in the minutes I consumed my first cup of juice from the blessed caffeinated bean by jumping on the internet to check my mail and maybe pay some bills or balance a checkbook than many others could during their whole day of activity. I was a goddess of industry! I was the queen of time management! I was… you get the idea.

What happened to those days?!? Let me paint you a picture, a “for instance” if you will. Eyes open (voluntarily or completely at the sadistic will of my alarm), I stumble down for my first life-giving cup of coffee. It is, if the timer worked correctly, blistering hot as it probably just finished brewing. I give a testing sip and… yep, set that down for a minute to avoid injury to the delicate tissues of tongue, gum, and palette. I take my cup over to my laptop and open it up. After typing in my password, I open a browser and start the morning. This may also occur using my smart phone, but the general habit is the same. Me, coffee, technology… mmmmm good. You have the picture. You might think, “Sounds good so far.” However, here is where the tale begins to shift. Whereas in days gone by, I would check email, pay bills, check bank balances and maybe act as monitor for some various listservs that I managed; now, I seem to automatically sign into social media and game servers. Yes, I’m ashamed to say it. I’m one of those people who play the “time-wasters”. And that title is so apt it hurts.

I can even rationalize the behavior to myself. I’ll just play through my 100 minutes while I drink my coffee and get myself prepared for the day. I’ll just check my newsfeed for important updates from friends, family, coworkers, and such. I’ll make sure I’m not forgetting someone’s birthday… and while I’m at it, let me just sign into the zombie game and get my rewards for the day’s goals. What was that quiz? Wow, I was an otter in a previous life?!? Who knew? Oh, and I might as well play the hidden object game and get my daily reward for clicking into my addiction. Oh, the timer ran out on the quest, click on the next one. Ok… I’m just gonna WHOA!!! How did it get to be 1:00PM?!?

This is obviously a weekend scenario, but you get the idea. I used to do things with my life. I went outside. I read books. I was actually a voracious reader and usually was reading about four different tomes at the same time along with professional journals for new scientific finds and best practice models. I was a writer… obviously to some extent I still am, but I mean writing papers for assignments, dissertations, theses, scientific journal articles, poetry, and personal journal. I at one point in my life was artistic. I created things. I played music, I sketched, and I used a camera with a certain amount of skill. (Lately, the most impressive photography I’ve done is with my smartphone.) On the more mundane side, I cleaned my house regularly, instead of the pre-company-flight-of-the-bumble-bee-dusting dance. I used to spend my time interacting with people, not zombies and clickbait articles. What the heck happened to me?!?

It seems these days I can’t seem to read more than the 140-some odd characters of a tweet or the regurgitated malarkey handed down in oversimplified form from the various online rags that provide their enticing links on the margins of the social media screen. As for writing, you witness here the majority of my prose that isn’t work-related and full of excessively poor grammar due to the time constraints placed upon the response. The truth is that communication requires thought. Well, let me rephrase that. Communication should involve thought. I think we have all seen a good deal of evidence to support the contrary of my first version of that statement. Significant communication should actually provoke a bit of thought, as well. So, when did I become this moronically clicking imbecile who no longer has time to contribute to a better life for myself? When did I become so attached to the technology that holds me captive and makes time pass without notice or accomplishment. I feel like the computer sucks all of my activity away while I sit there passively staring at it.

The sad part is even things that I need to do on the computer: Writing, researching, general maintenance? That stuff ends up getting thrown by the wayside while I click away at pointless games or get sucked into Wikipedia’s connected links of information. Before I know it, a whole day is wasted and I have accomplished nothing that I’d planned. The truth is that I let myself get sucked in, and I need to take active measures to unplug. That’s right. Me, Myself… I need to unplug from the computer, phone, television and go do something analog, involving physical activity. I’m a full grown woman, but I need to set limits like I would for a child on my computer time. AND since I spend a large portion of my day working on a computer, I really need to cut my time spent staring at the box of static images and text even more than perhaps for someone who spends their days in a less logged in occupation. I need to spend more time with books again, they have missed me, I’m sure. I need to go outside and see light not produced by electronics.

So, my brothers and sisters, prisoners in Potatoland, if you are experiencing lost time, unexplained lethargy and plummets into the various wormholes of social media, Wikipedia, and time-wasters; look for a safety line… it might look like an off switch. It might look like a window with sun shining outside. It might look like a familiar face that you haven’t seen in a while and might like to spend some time with in actual conversation. Set a timer for your computer activities, shut it down, and spend some time with any activity that doesn’t require a charger or power source.