You Can Go Home Again

I’m midway through my second week of recovery, and each day, I’ve noticed I’m feeling better and better. I’m definitely not ready to go out and do a triathlon — in fact, I won’t be able to run again for another month to six weeks following my back surgery. I still face a long road to recovery, but I feel like I’ve gotten the race towards good health off to a good start.

I have made significant progress over the past week and a half. I was very stiff and in a lot of pain during the drive home from the hospital to my parents’ house. Right after the surgery, I shuffled around the house in agony as the morphine I was given through IV at the hospital wore off and I waited for the prescription pain medication and muscle relaxer to take effect. I was not terribly coherent either. My mother offered me hot tea before realizing I was too out of it to hold the cup, so she sent me to bed instead.

A big factor in my recovery has been my parents, who have opened their home to me and have acted as nursemaids.  I think I underestimated how much time I would need off from work and how much help I would need after the surgery. I ended up taking all of this past week off in addition to the previous week (I had originally planned to go back this past Thursday – what was I thinking?). The doctor also said I could not bend over or lift anything heavy during the initial two week recovery period. I never realized how much bending I do on a daily basis, even to pick up a pencil dropped on the floor, or reaching down to pick up something from a low shelf.  I’ve been grateful for my parents’ presence in helping me walk around, handing me things so I wouldn’t have to bend or stoop. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the home-cooked meals (which have included plenty of protein per the doctor’s orders). I’ve enjoyed home spaghetti, steak, meat loaf, mounds of fluffy scrambled eggs, bacon and plenty of veggies. I finally got to try kale (which is supposed to be a very good food for runners) for the first time. I’m not sure if I’m a fan of it yet or not!

The best part of my recovery has been the time I’ve gotten to spend with my parents. My typical life is usually so busy with work, spending time with my husband and friends, and catching up with household chores,  it can be difficult sometimes to break away and drive up to my parents’ neck of the woods for a visit. We do talk on the phone during the week, but it’s never the same as spending one on one time with them.  As part of my recovery, I’ve been forced to slow down my pace and spend time at the pace at which my parents, who are both retired, live their lives. This pace has a less frantic rhythm than my typical life. During my time with them, I’ve played endless rounds of Yahtzee with my mother, and have discussed current affairs with my dad. My mother has introduced me to some new TV shows, and my dad has given me some books that he enjoys. They’ve also guided me through some bouts of post-operative depression. My father experienced this when he had both knees replaced. Immediately following his surgery, he was scared at times that he would never walk again without pain. But he mowed the lawn this afternoon and even climbed on the roof to blow pine needles off the top of their house! So obviously, his fear was wrong. I’m hopeful that my own doubts about being able to run long miles will turn out to be just doubts and not reality.

Just by being around each other all the time, we get to talk about things we might miss during our phone calls. It’s just like with my good running buddies — the more miles we run together (or more time we spend cross training together when unable to run), the deeper and more substantial the conversations get.

I’m writing this blog on the computer in my old bedroom, which is now my parents’ office. For a long time, it felt strange to come in here, knowing that the wallpaper I’ve had in here since high school is hidden by paint, and that the closet once filled with my clothes is now a huge filing cabinet.  Despite the cosmetic changes to the room, I’ve come to realize that I can go home again.

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