So I've been back from the hospital, after my hip replacement operation, for about a week, and trying hard to adjust.
I was euphoric the day they let me go home. I'd spent the absolute minimum time--five days--and the entire process had been far less difficult than I had feared. I was awake and coherent a few hours after the operation. The pain was far less extreme than I'd feared. My room had an extra bed so that my husband could spend the night and keep me company. The doctor sent me down to physical therapy on the third day to learn how to use a walker and crutches and that freed me from the nightmare of the bedpan. The hospital staff were all warm, friendly and supportive. I actually had a good time.
I immediately sent out emails to friends and family, colleagues and readers, waxing enthusiastic about how positive the experience had been. Surgery? Cool. A piece of cake.
It didn't take long for reality to set in. First, the pain has gotten worse rather than better. The doctor tells me not to worry, that this is normal and may last for several more weeks. I'm taking medication around the clock, something I hate to do. It helps, some, but it's still hard to sleep, especially since I can't lie in my favorite position.
Second, my poor husband is stuck doing all sorts of things that I can't manage because I'm on a walker. Going grocery shopping. Feeding the cats. Cleaning their litter. Fetching and carrying stuff that I can't. We're relying heavily on take-out, but occasionally he's had to do some cooking. Now don't get me wrong, he's a great cook, but he's almost completely unfamiliar with my kitchen--or my methods. It's difficult for both of us.
I have to avoid putting weight on the affected leg for another five weeks. And I'm really not very skilled yet with the crutches. I went to work for the first time yesterday and nearly fell. My husband and I were both terrified. The walker is easier, but it still takes a lot of effort. The palms of my hands are bruised from carrying my weight.
Five more weeks of this? How am I going to stand it? And of course that's just the minimum. If XRays show that the hip isn't healed yet, I may have a few more weeks as a cripple, driving myself and my husband crazy...
At this point, with all these complaints running around in my head, I just have to stop myself and take a deep breath. Where's all that patience I vowed to cultivate? Where's that positive attitude that I blogged about before the operation?
Okay. Enough. I'm not going to think about the five weeks stretching ahead. I just need to deal with today. And actually, today hasn't been all that bad. I finished a blog post for Oh Get A Grip. I got several guest blogs posted. I completed and submitted the conference paper that I've been working on, three days before the deadline. My husband made some delicious scrambled eggs for lunch and we're planning to collaborate on dinner. (I can cut things up and such, as long as I'm sitting down.)
I remind myself to take thing one day at a time. I've shared before that when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I was anorexic. After I got past the crisis phase, I joined Overeaters Anonymous. Despite the name, this is a Twelve Step program (like AA) for anyone who has problems with food, including people like me.
One of the Twelve Step mantras is "one day at a time". If you try to tackle your entire life at once, you will become discouraged and fail. Focusing just on today makes things a lot easier. And really, all we have is today. Yesterday is gone; we can't change the past. Tomorrow is an unknown. It may bring the things we fear, but perhaps not. The only reality is "now". And it's up to me to decide just what kind of "now" it will be.
I can make myself miserable, fretting about the pain and my current limitations. Or I can move forward and do something positive, something to make myself or my husband or even a stranger feel better.
It has been quite a long time since I thought about OA and what I learned there. Just for today, I resolve to be cheerful, productive and patient.
Heck, I can bitch tomorrow, if I really want to. For now, though, I'm going to focus on appreciating the present.