Tag Archives: post-surgical fitness

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.