It’s been two weeks, and at this point, I start the physical therapy exercises “detailed” on the sheets I was given before surgery.
So of course I totally overdid it and now I’m in more pain than I’ve felt in many days.
This is absolutely par for the course for me and I am not handwaving my role in my setback.
But damn, better PT instructions could probably* have prevented my shit day.
*see above disclaimer
So I have two stapled-together sets of paper. One has five color-illustrated exercises. The other is like eight black-and-white pictures, some similar to the five, but generally more comprehensive looking. The five exercises don’t have much info about how long to hold the stretch and how many repetitions to do. The eight say to hold a few seconds and do six reps. Because I am eager (and admittedly probably carrying unrealistic expectations) to get on with my fucking life (these exercises will restore my range of motion) and I don’t want to be a non-compliant patient, I did them all, holding for 10-15 seconds, doing all six reps for all of them.
I know now NOW that this was too much for the first day.
But in my defense, I WASN’T TOLD NOT TO.
Nowhere on the sheets does it say to start with just the simple, color-illustrated exercises, only doing a couple reps, and work up to more and onto the challenging, black-and-white exercises. Nowhere does it say, YO DUMBASS! BABY STEPS! YOU JUST GOT YOUR CHEST CUT OFF A FORTNIGHT AGO
Also, in my defense, when the nurse went over the sheets with me, it was right before surgery (literally–the anesthesiologist’s assistant came in with the “you will give no shits after this” medication two minutes later) and I had a couple other things on my mind, like not waking up and never seeing husband and child again (and not seeing how The Avengers *ahem stucky* turns out and not witnessing my beloved Packers return to the Super Bowl and not seeing my country fix this current bullshit). So I may have missed when she said “oh btw you’ll want to ease into these exercises”. I checked with Stuart and he doesn’t remember anything like that either, though he was also a tad distracted, not with the perfection of Steven and Bucky of course (he thinks shippers are crazy) but with the health and safety of his spouse.
So anyway, I started physical therapy exercises this morning with the best of intentions and I ended up feeling like my right armpit was on fire and my sternum had cracked and I was never going to heal because I was too stupid to squeeze a pink ball and lift a broom without hurting myself.
Obviously part of the problem was I let my imagination run away from me. I had felt so good lately that a bit of pain and soreness had me unable to cope without immediately jumping to I AM SO. FUCKED.
Anxiety has a friend named Catastrophize and when Anxiety can’t pay a visit, Catastrophize shows up instead. I can usually recognize Catastrophize before they make it through the door and tell them to buzz off “I am an Optimist! Not a Pessimist! Get Thee gone, foul creature!” but sometimes they sneak in. I had some insomnia last night and also woke up stupidearly this morning, so tiredness played a part, as did the new pain level.
Anyway, I spent a bunch of the day convinced I had irreparably harmed my body. Thank goddess in addition to catastrophizing, I’m also good at rationalizing things (there’s no way you totally fucked yourself foreverandeveramen by doing ten minutes of physical therapy; you’re just being a drama llama) and distraction (several episodes of the latest season of iZombie and knitting like a fiend).
I’m feeling way better now, like almost normal (last night’s level of normal, not last month’s level of normal). The fire in my right pit is out and my sternum should be okaycool after a good night’s sleep.
This was a needed wake-up call for me. A Cancer Bitch-Slap, if you will. Progress is primarily made in tiny steps and cannot be rushed. A bit of pain is not the end of the world. Real healing will take more time than I want it to. Patience and perspective are the keys to survival and sanity.
And tomorrow is a brand new day.