Tick Tock. Tick Tock. Time seems to be creeping toward Wednesday—my day to ride the Anesthetic Express to Scalpel Town. While I’ve gotten my surgery jimjams more under control, this endless waiting is a whole different kind of mental torture. I needed a strategy, a plan. Time to fall back on my Bad-Ass Training.
Clean Eating—I can already feel my focus unraveling around food. Since I won’t be able to attend TOPS for a few weeks, that accountability is gone. Plus, anxiety has pushed all my compulsive eating buttons. And then there’s the horror of being stuck in my apartment without means of escape. I’m forbidden to drive until I regain the core strength to handle surprises in traffic. And since I have to use a step to get up into my truck, it will be awhile before I can gird my loins enough to manage that.
You may wonder how being immobile applies to food. Right now, the anticipation of being trapped pushes me to RUN. I’ve driven to Ames and Des Moines more this past week than I have in months—because I still can. Part of the escape valve is eating out—fast food, slow food, coffee shops, movie popcorn. Then, when I really am homebound with no way to bolt, that anxiety will drive the compulsive eating.
It’s time for me to do some serious meditating. Time to breathe and bring my attention back to what’s going on in my body and in my head. Breathe and Watch. Not only to keep from packing on the pounds, but to stay sane.
Also, Mom and I are grocery shopping today to stock up my cupboards. I will choose wisely with an emphasis on simple and nutritious. I may fondle the Cheetos, but I won’t bring them home.
Strength and Stamina—I’ve been paying attention to the daily activities I may not be able to do once I’m home from the hospital and figuring out options. I’m forbidden to lift anything over ten pounds, bent, or stretch. So, I won’t be able to get my Brita water pitcher out of the fridge, or make my bed, or reach my coffee filters up in the cupboard. No cooking in the oven, or lifting the big glass dish that holds all my collage jewelry bits, or bending over to tie my shoes. As I come across these problematic items, I try to rearrange and accommodate (I mean, there’s no way I’m giving up coffee for six weeks).
I won’t see my water aerobics class again until May, so I have to focus on what I can do. Both my doc and the OB/GYN nurse said walking is good. Post-op it will wake up the bowel, help prevent blood clots and clear the lungs. A few minutes up and down the hall several times a day while I’m in the hospital, then “as tolerated” when I get home. Maybe only a slow creep to the corner and back the first few days. The important part for me is to have a plan and some kind of structure. My routine will be out the window, so I need to develop a new one. Walking a little bit several times every day will be part of it.
Set Priorities—First priority post-op will be Pain Management. I’ll take my narcotics like a good girl so I can get restful sleep. Next comes Healing. That requires good nutrition, lots of water, movement and time. I know I’ll get impatient about my limitations, but healing from this big of a surgery will take months. I have to keep that thought in my forebrain.
Next on my priority list is Distraction. This will be a little different from the way I use distraction during bipolar episodes. Post-op I need to find ways to fill the days while I heal. With this rationale, my compulsive spending broke free, and I bought a ton of movies on eBay and Half.com. It’s hard for me to feel too bad about this since I now own most of Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman’s films. I’ll feel worse when it’s time to pay my Visa bill.
As soon as I’m able, I get back to writing my stories and working on my collage cards. Writing and art will take a back seat to these new priorities, but they won’t go away.
Secure Back-Up—This is probably the most important aspect of Post-Op Bad-Assery. I will need help doing basic chores and getting around. I will need people to make me laugh when I’m sick of myself. And I’ll need comfort and support from the folks who love me. I’m blessed with all that. My best friend plans to come to the hospital Wednesday night so we can watch Criminal Minds together. I’m already getting cards from my TOPS friends cheering me into surgery. Blessed.
It feels really good to have a plan in place. Adjustments will have to be made, I know, but I’m not flopping around in a panic anymore. I can do this. All is well and will be well.