Here and Now. The mental recovery from surgery and back to fitness.

Surgery REcovery
 
Recovering from surgery is not an easy task. There is the physical aspect and then there is the emotional aspect that is much less frequently discussed. Earlier in the year I made a decision to choose ME!! I struggled for a long time with pain and physical limitations of being ‘top heavy’ and decided enough is enough. I researched and interviewed several surgeons and finally took the plunge. February 21st 2018 I would have a breast reduction and lift. I even threw myself an “Adios ta-ta’s” fiesta before!!

 

Surgery day came and went and I was shocked how wonderful and smooth my recovery started out. I started doing a few too many things my healing body wasn’t ready for and was promptly reminded that I needed to ease it back and let my body fully recover. I struggle a lot with asking for help and feeling dependent on anyone ever, which was quite difficult to avoid when I couldn’t even pump soap for myself. A month into my recovery I began to feel frustrated and overwhelmed with pain. Why is my body not all better yet?? Why can I not do everything I want to do already?!?!? Even at 6 weeks post op I was struggling with so many things and increasingly growing frustrated with myself. Almost TWO MONTHS LATER and I’m still hurting and very limited in my movements. My surgeon referred me to physical therapy and that’s when the real work began.

  

Tears and yelps and lamaz style breathing would get me through some intense sessions but I could immediately see progress in my range of motion and pain level. Now this whole healing process I’m sharing with you has just been the physical part. The emotional part was a much more involved struggle for me. I was so worried that my lack of being able to workout daily would waste all my hard work in the gym prior to that and I would end up a 400 pound lady who needed a crane to get her out of her house.
One afternoon my friend (and coach) Paul paid me a much needed visit. Out of nowhere he just reached out to check on me and asked if I was up for a visit. Well I was, and even though I didn’t know how much, it was much needed!! Paul came over to my house and I sat in my PJ’s on my comfy couch chatting about my recovery. Paul has always been such a great encourager and guide in the gym and I’ve always enjoyed working out with him and learning from him as well. Paul always does a great job at breaking things down to very simple basic steps and building from there. Especially on the seemingly impossible tasks I freak myself out over before even trying, like box jumps!?!?!!? Any who, Paul is someone I respect and look up to and value his opinion always. I will refrain from going into my girl in the bar crying about how much she loves you & you’ve changed her life (I’ll save that one for Mary & Ryan), but you get the point, we in this amazing fit-fam all love our ‘dad’ Paul!!
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So Paul begins to ask me when I’m going to go back to the gym again and I start spiraling into 47 million reasons why I can’t go to the gym and how my life is going in a million different directions, and how people will all stare at me and think I got fat and laugh at me cause I can’t do anything like I used to, and everyone will judge me… Paul, in his very centered calming way, simply responded to me, “I hear you, but at this very moment…

  

…You’re still just sitting on your couch.”

  

We began talking about other things I had going on, concerns about work stress and weather or not I was going to renew my lease, and weather or not I was going to stay in Chicago long term, and before you know it I’m spinning out at 100 miles and hour in the vortex that is my crazy brain. Paul very calmly reminded me again (cause sometimes I need multiple reminders) that we are still just sitting on my couch. His words resonated with me because as fast as I can allow myself to spin things and scenarios in my head to spin out of control, I have to remember that my butt is simply planted on my couch and that right now in this very moment I can choose to be present to my surroundings and just be.
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I took a lot away from this conversation, but the biggest take away was that my fit fam just wanted me back. So Paul asked me to please just come back to the gym the next day. Just start small and commit to going to the gym one day. Because I promised Paul you bet your ass I was there the next day. Feeling very self conscious and nervous for anyone to see me, but I walked in and was pleasantly greeted. My fit fam was happy to see me and very encouraging as always. I got on the stationary bike and just held my sore boobs and pedaled for about 45 minutes. The next day I came back and brought my headphones to help me ease my anxiety about people looking at me and judging me (which obviously never happens in our gym, but it totally does in my head all the time).

  

So with the help of my favorite playlist and a promise I made to Paul I started climbing the emotional mountain to get back to my ‘normal’. I’m now 6 months post op and so grateful for Fit Results and the amazing community that we have created. I got to celebrate little victories along the way with my fit fam, like doing a push up again, or doing an assisted pull up again. I am so excited to continue to heal and improve and be even stronger that before my life changing surgery. At the end of the day the weight that I gained, or the extra jiggle that I felt like I was carrying around was really not a big deal. I did not end up a 400 pound lady who sat on her cats and squished them and needed the fire department to get her out with a crane. I am choosing to love myself as is every single day and be grateful for how far I’ve come and how hard I’ve worked. I could not have done it without my entire fit fam and am so grateful for this community. So when my mind starts to rev up and go to the crazy place of stress and worry and uncertainty about anything in my life, I simply remind myself that I’m just sitting on my couch right now and to just be. Everything else can be dealt with and does not have to be overwhelming and paralyzing. I’m a work in progress of course so I work hard to exercise this new tool that my friend Paul taught me.

-maina bird

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