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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

patience - not my strong suit

     So here I am one week till I have my first foot "reconstructed" and I am having some issues controlling my impatience with both the wait and the anticipation of what will come after the surgery.  Patience has never been a virtue of mine so that is making it doubly difficult to deal with.            
     I have to confess that one of the "symptoms" of not having any patience with this waiting game is an almost constant feeling of butterflies in my stomach at the mere thought of the upcoming surgery.  
     I am trying to make a resolution with myself to adopt a good attitude about both this pre-surgery waiting game and even more importantly, afterward.  I believe that there are some strategies that one can utilize that might facilitate this process so I am going to share them here as tools for others who may have to deal with any number of treatments, surgeries or procedures as they manage their RA.
     First and foremost, plan ahead! I have a checklist of items that I have been gradually completing that will make the time leading up a lot less stressful.  For instance, I now have enough paper towels and toilet paper in my house to provide a small army with the necessary paper products for a month!  
     I am doing any and all household goods shopping as much in advance as possible so that I will not need to call a friend some afternoon when my husband is at work and say "could you bring me some toliet paper?"....not going to happen!  Stocking up on food that won't spoil is another thing I have been doing.  
     Keeping the house and yard in shape is also a good idea so that when I come home I am not faced with a messy, cluttered environment.  I know I will be able to recuperate in a much more relaxed fashion in a neat, clean home.
      Making sure all of your prescriptions are filled is another one.  I plan to get all of those that I can filled early next week so that is off my mind for awhile.  The last thing I want is to come home and discover that I don't have the necessary medications.
     One of the most important items I have taken care of PRIOR to my surgery is having the necessary medical equipment on hand at home so that I am not caught off guard and unable to be as mobile as possible as soon as possible.  With that in mind I now have a walker with wheels, a knee walker, ergonomic forearm crutches (in red no less), crutch pads for the traditional crutches I will get at the hospital to come home, a shower chair, memory foam foot rest pillows, and a few other items all of which are designed to make my recovery go smoothly and with as little stress as possible.  
     Without a doubt the single most important factor in a smooth transition and positive healing experience is the ever crucial Support Team that I so often reference.  I have made arrangements for different family members to come stay and help out so all of the burden does not fall on my husband.  Friends have offered to help with meals and shopping and I will tap into those offers if need be. 
     I have also made arrangements to work remotely and have even scheduled some meetings for "my back porch" so that I will not be out of touch and/or go stir crazy!  I have gotten anything I could do in advance done so that I do not have deadlines looming when I get home from the hospital.  I am gradually bringing home files and other items I will need to accomplish this and that is giving me a lot more confidence that I can manage this.
    In order to stay sane while being confined for 6-8 weeks I have also planned to do some easy projects around the house.  For instance I have gotten some new hanging jewelry organizers and I intend to go through and sort my jewelry which is currently stacked helter-skelter in various containers on my dresser in my bedroom.  I also plan to clean out some of my kitchen cupboards.  
     I think working on these projects will not only keep me from dying of boredom but will also keep my mind off of the amount of time remaining till I can be more mobile again.  Of all the challenges I face, this one is perhaps the biggest hurdle and brings me full circle back to my original issue of impatience.  There is a direct link between my impatience with this whole process and worrying about the 8 weeks I am restricted mobility wise.  
     I tend to move at the speed of light despite my RA - maybe even because of it - and the stiffness that is ever present if I stay stationary too long.  I rarely sit any length of time...a movie taxes my patience to the thought of not being able to jump up and move around without restriction makes my heart race and nearly brings on a panic attack!  Truthfully the pain aspect of the recovery is not anywhere nearly as daunting a prospect to me as the whole "stuck at home for 8 weeks" notion.  I have managed pain for 15+ years now and if there is one thing I am confident of it is my ability to deal with the pain of the surgery.  
     So in the end if I am able to incorporate most if not all of the strategies I have outlined I think it will help me to be more patient and in the end make this whole surgical process less stressful, more positive and perhaps even enhance the healing so that I can get back to moving and functioning even better than before!  That is my ultimate goal and if you are facing surgery down the road these tips can help you too!


Wren said...

I so understand your impatience and agitation as you wait for your surgery, Nan--and your fear of the long, immobile recovery period. When I had wrist surgery several years ago I did the same things you're doing now: making sure that household necessities like TP were well stocked; buying easy-to-prepare frozen meals or making meals ahead and freezing them so my husband and daughter could feed themselves (and ME); cleaning the house thoroughly so it wouldn't drive me bats**t when I got home and couldn't take care of it myself. At the same time, I was also working like a whirlwind at my job, making sure that everything I could do was done before I had to be gone for an extended period. By the time I finally had the surgery, I was so worn out I was deeply grateful for the much-needed break my convalescence would soon give me. ;)

Although I'd been worried about getting dreadfully bored and being unable to do very much with just one working hand, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to do a lot more than I'd anticipated. And while each of us heal differently, and of course surgeries vary in seriousness, I was pleased that I healed more quickly than the doc thought I would. By Week Two of convalescence, I was keeping myself happily busy--and enjoying the relaxation and change in routine.

My thoughts are with you, friend. Be careful not to overextend yourself--rest when you can and remember to smile. You're gonna do just fine.

Nan said...

thanks Wren for your thoughtful response. I too had two wrist surgeries back to back about 5 years ago and it was a challenge but I was out of the splints in two weeks so that was great. I do remember what a challenge it was to do make-up and hair, etc. At least this time that will not be an issue. I think what concerns me this time is that I cannot put weight on my foot for 8 weeks which means crutches or some other device and having practiced on them it will be a challenge to not only get around, but get up and down steps, take my dog out, and of course not have any RA flaring thanks to the new way my body will have to bear weight with crutches, etc....should be interesting but I will try my best to rise to the challenge...

Marianna Paulson said...

I'm glad that you survived your surgeries so well. Managing the boredom factor is an important aspect of healing, as I'm sure you've discovered with your own onslaught of surgeries.

For other ideas for your readers: