In the quiet of early morn, my mind flits…like a hummingbird darting from one flower to another, not staying long enough to really drink much in or resolve a thought.
This is how I know I’m feeling better.
In the early days home from surgery, there’s a single-minded response to pain. All energy goes to managing the intensity of what one feels. Dishes in sink? Who cares? Cat vomiting on the carpet? stupid cat. Someone else will have to clean it up. Ideas for the next children’s book I’d like to write? Not even on a mental back burner. Discomfort, pain, healing requires all our mental faculties. Aside from the obvious dislike of this reality, it actually brings a quietude of mind in the singular pursuit of feeling better.
But as the pain level decreases, the mental chatter increases. It’s as if, for a time, the stove’s oven has been the only thing turned ON. As the oven temp reduces from broil down to a more manageable 350 degrees, the top burners begin to light up, one at a time. Creative ideas begin to glow again, to-do lists of all kinds begin filling up at an alarming rate. All of it fueled by a well-worn thought which had disappeared in the post-surgery days, but now roars back to life in the space between my ears:
“I can do this!”
Now that all the burners are ON as well as the ongoing, but more temperate, oven, it’s really quite annoying! This is the hard part, the in-between bit. This is the segment of recuperation I dislike the most because it requires such discipline. I must constantly gauge my energy level and what my body needs. I must turn down, even OFF, certain burners so that the healing work can continue. Even though I “can” do the dishes and the laundry and dinner and clean up cat vomit…I NEED to pace myself and ask others to help do these tasks so that I can choose rest–the most vital pain medicine and healer there is.
This is all happening at the holidays. And to be honest, the “I can do this” mantra is a familiar holiday refrain. Every year, even without undergoing surgery, December feels like that stove with all burners on HIGH and the oven set to Broil. Typically I’m well enough in body to actually convince myself of my can-do-it-all super powers. Then I crash and burn just after Christmas Day either in exhaustion or some virus takes hold to wrestle me to the ground for some much needed rest. Despite my disciplined efforts, I still tend to over do. Pain from surgery is not a bad alarm system, letting me know when I need to slow down, close my eyes and rest.
We can’t all have surgery in December, nor would we want to. I certainly don’t want to do this again. But what I’d like to do is develop an approach to December, (and all other months of the year for that matter) that does not begin with “I can do this!” Maybe more along the lines of “I choose to do this and therefore NOT THAT.” To be purposeful about how I spend my time even if it means letting go of certain traditions I somehow feel I must continue.
Yes, December is always FULL. Full of shopping, full of making, full of wrapping, full of baking, full of partying, full of cooking, full of cleaning, full of revelling. All good stuff. But there is that saying about too much of a good thing…
The problem is that once December is over, January is on its heels and we are off to the New Year races once again with our banner “I can do this!” flying high as we run. We even make lists of how fast and how far we want to run and how high we want to jump, as if normal living of life weren’t enough for us.
So I have some ideas, I think I’ll share here in the coming days prior to New Year’s. No rocket science. Just some thoughts on how to approach a New Year with all our dreams and hopes held lovingly with the reality of our lives. I hope you’ll stop by and offer your thoughts and suggestions as well.
***The images here are from a commissioned painting I finished prior to surgery. It was to be a Christmas gift and so now I can share it with you. Commission work is always a privilege and an honor to be asked and to attempt creating something another would enjoy.
0 thoughts on “The In-Between”
Love the comparison of pain to a hot oven… And turning on different burners. My son and I were in a head on collision in Oct. He broke ribs and had to undergo a spinal fusion, but has had a full recovery! Both my legs were crushed and I underwent reconstruction. We are blessed it wasn’t worse. I am still in pain and at times it seems no one understands, especially at this time of year with all the “have-to’s”. You realize nothing is a have-to but a choice you bring upon yourself. Your writing describes it so well! Thank you!!
Oh Heather…my heart goes out to you in this! I am very grateful it wasn’t any worse, but gosh it does leave you both with continuing pains and ailments that may take a while to fully resolve. Whenever our bodies are rearranged, it takes a while for them to get used to their new normal. My heartfelt thoughts and prayers will be with you in the coming days. Take it easy and choose rest whenever you can. -Jennifer
So glad you are on the mend. I am looking forward to your posts as I just found you, and I love the way you write! I didn’t realize that the first three pictures were part of a whole. So fun! Still praying…
Thank you so much for your comment here! And i so appreciate the prayers!
I just joined a site and didn’t know quite what it was but I think it is just what I need. It’s called Sustainably Creative : sustainablycreative.com. It turns out to be a site to help you slow down, find what is important and do that, not more. The guy draws where he used to paint – he only has energy for so much. I have many days of headaches due to soy problems so think it’s just what I need.
I really related to your post here partly on my husband’s behalf since he’s had to recover from two major surgeries but for me it was the busy, busy part and needing to learn to stop and do just what is most effective or most important to me now.
I am so glad you are moving forward with your healing. Perhaps you are finally in the home stretch of this long illness. I sure hope so.
I love this painting. At first I thought it was three different ones and what a surprise to see them all together! It’s wonderful! I can’t wait to see what you do as you feel better and better but remember there is no need to rush!!
I cant wait to check out this website you mention here! Sounds awesome! I am sad to hear about the headaches….i hope you can find some relief in 2015! We will continue to encourage one another to create within the shape of our lives! Thanks, as always Timaree!