Friday, May 29, 2009

Wow! Is this how normal people feel?

I was driving home today from physical therapy and I was overcome with a sense of well being, both mentally and physically. It has been a long time since I have felt like that.

When you are not well, you don't realize how much of your body's energy and reserves are going toward the illness. Even if the illness itself doesn't cause severe fatigue, the effects of it often zap a lot of your energy. It is possible to still live a full life and get things accomplished while dealing with chronic pain, but it takes more of a toll on your body and your psyche than you realize until after the crisis is over.

This is what happened to me. All those years I lived with hip/back/shoulder/neck pain from my osteonecrosis, I simply pushed through the pain. I was determined I was not going to let it keep me from volunteering at the kids' schools, going on field trips, family vacation, and just doing normal everyday activities of a mom. I did all those things. I even excelled at some.

It wasn't until I had this last hip replacement surgery that I even contemplated slowing down. Before the surgery I was determined to be back at normal activities within six weeks, three months at the latest. After all, people were counting on me and I had a lot to do. It was only after the surgery that I realized how really stressed I was, not just in spirit but physically. My body was just stressed to the max. My heart told me to go back to work as usual, but my body said 'I won't allow it'. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, right?

This was very frustrating to me, because my normal tendency is to press on through the pain, but this times, somehow I just couldn't. It was a new experience for me to just listen to my body and actually respond to its messages to take it easy (oh, the guilt, the guilt). It wasn't until four months after surgery that I even had the energy to contemplate rehabbing my new joint.

I started physical therapy in March and it has been fantastic. I am glad I waited because I don't think I would have gotten the results that I have achieved if I had pushed myself into it sooner. Next week is my last week and I feel I have accomplished my goals.

I feel better now, and stronger than I have since...well, I don't ever remember feeling this good in my adult life. I spent my 20s as a body image obsessed anorexic. My 30s was consumed with childbirth and chronic pain from illness and over work. So, now, almost midway through my 40s I am finally feeling like a normal person.

I feel like doing things. Heck, I am even looking forward to summer with my kids. That is something that I normally would dread because it took too much energy to entertain them. But now, I feel equal to the challenge for the first time ever.

Check back with me in mid-July and ask me if I still have the same enthusiasm.