Sunday, July 15, 2012

Living Life on Hold

There are many lessons I am learning during this period of time that I am convalescing after a recent surgery. For a person that is normally running full throttle with my job for much of August through May each year, I kick it down several notches and redirect my focus to family and home for the remaining two months of the year. Things were thrown out of the norm when I had an unexpected illness in March that brought me to a quick stop and a slow restart. This uncovered another health condition which lead to the need to have surgery during my summer break. I normally make plans during the early spring months for many summer activities including day trips, vacations and entertaining family and friends throughout my warm weather break. Projects around the house and time to just hang out with my kids at home are also planned around a few training days and professional development opportunities for work. This year was different. I didn’t plan much, if anything for the summer break time, but I did invest in memberships to the zoo, the children’s museum and a season pass to an amusement and water park. My surgery was delayed several times, so I took advantage of the month between the end of the school year and my surgery date to do some family activities that I knew I would be unable to do later in the summer. It was not really an ideal situation, as I didn’t know from week to week how long it would be before my activities would be restricted, but I tried to make the best of it with several impromptu day trips. 

My first lesson has been in patience. The act of waiting for others to decide the “best” time and conditions for my actual procedure was frustrating. I thought that I was ahead of the game by getting recommended tests and consultations scheduled before the school year was out. Since I was expected to need a full 8 weeks for recovery and my break is just shy of that, the plan was to have everything scheduled for a week or two into my break. This would leave me with time to prepare and do a few fun things with the kids and ample time for recovery before I was back at work with a heavy workload during the first month to six weeks of my annual contract. Regardless of what I tried to plan for, there were delays. I was expected to go through further tests and wait a bit longer. What I have learned about myself is that I am not patient. Patience is a virtue that I was forced through circumstances beyond my control to accept. I am still working through my patience during recovery. I have a long list of what I would like to do, but most of it is not practical with my current restrictions. I have a list of down time activities that I thought I’d be able to do, but haven’t had much of an attention span although that is finally getting better. I was planning on doing some reading, writing, scrapbooking and watching a few movies. I have yet to stay awake through any movie and can barely focus on reading a blog, my friends’ social network updates or even magazine articles. I hope my attention improves as the medications diminish in the days and weeks to come. Scrapbooks are very impractical as I am not able to sit at a table and layout pages, pictures, etc. yet. I hope that that condition improves as well, as I would love to get some progress while I have days of time to invest in the next few weeks.

Another lesson has been in giving up control. Someone else is doing the shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. and although I can tell others what I want, it sounds awfully ungrateful to complain to my family, who are nearly waiting on me hand and foot, that they are not doing things my way or to my standards. This acceptance that all is fine the way my family is doing it, leads me back to my first lesson, which is patience, as I must wait until I am able to take these tasks back in hand. I am grateful that my lack of control is temporary. Even when I was in the hospital, I was contemplating why I can’t just enjoy someone else doing all this for me. But I could only think that it will be x number of days until I can get home and then x number of weeks before I am back to my old self. Almost two weeks ago, I read a blog about a mother that went into the hospital to have her second child and gave an amusing account of how it was like a vacation for her. She noted that she and others thought of a hospital visit as a bit of a mini vacation with meals prepared and cleaned up, kids being cared for somewhere else by someone else, plenty of time to read. My view of hospitals is far different. I so wanted to avoid the place that I had my youngest two children at home. Yes, if I had the choice I would vacation at a spa or resort and it would probably cost much less in the long run, the food would be better, and I would not have to deal with the fog that comes from the drugs that the hospital must administer to keep me comfortable. 

There is another lesson that is peaking my attention as I am at day 12 of my actual confinement. I need to keep focused on living my life to the fullest I am able despite what it brings. My mantra to live and love life must come to a head every day. This starts with appreciation of the people that love me and are here today, whatever the given day that I am blessed to live. I must also make sure the activities I choose are positive and I must live in the moment and not miss what lessons, opportunities and gifts living this day brings. This sounds a bit sappy, especially for me, but if I don’t focus on loving my life, and the people that are on this living journey with me, then I very easily fall into being quite pessimistic and once I start focusing on the faults that can be found in any situation, I find myself feeling dissatisfied. This is not a new lesson for me, but something that is back in focus after the fog of anxiety, anesthesia,  narcotics and being totally off track has set the agenda to just surviving day to day. I want to live life. There is a big difference.

So even though the restrictions of my current situation still have me on hold with many of the things that I think I should be doing, I need to be patient with myself, let go of control of what I can’t do and decide what I can and will do today. I can write today. I still am experiencing a short attention span, but through multiple attempts at the keyboard, I have written this blog. It should be enough for me to be satisfied if I actually live well and make accomplishments despite my limitations.