(How to accept help when you want to do everything on your own.)
I met with a surgeon to decide if surgery was necessary to repair the valve at the bottom of my esophagus and prevent acid from refluxing from my stomach into my throat. At the time I asked what I could do now to allow for the best healing after surgery. His answer was walking – the kind that makes you out of breath and the kind that strengthens the abdominals.
I exercise regularly and so I started doing interval training on all my walks – in the pool, outside and in my basement in front of a TV screen. I got good at getting out of breath and I chose exercises that targeted the muscles in my mid-section.
When I left the hospital the nurse told me I had crackles in my lungs and showed me how to use the spirometer, a little plastic thing you inhale through to expand your lungs. I asked her the same question that I had asked the doctor before the surgery. What can I do to heal quickest? Her recommendation was the same as my doctor’s – walking.
At home I was surprised how hard it was to breathe, and deep breaths caused coughing and pain. I didn’t want to do my breathing exercises because it hurt to breathe, but my family encouraged me to use the spirometer and cheered me on when I could get the air flow meter higher and higher.
Four days after surgery my sister arrived to help. She had a different surgery herself last fall and so she knew just what to do to help me on the road to recovery. She put me on a medication schedule, brought drinks every few hours, reminded me to rest after I had been up, and took me on walks. It was so nice to have her helping that I cried the day she left (and the next day too).
It was clear to me how much walking was helping me get better, but I couldn’t seem to motivate myself to get up and do it. That’s when my friends and family really helped me out. My husband started walking with me, my exercise buddy started walking with me and my daughter started walking with me. I got out rain and shine (mostly rain as 2020 is the rainiest year so far ever). My daughter encouraged slow deep breathing and made me walk with my shoulders back and my hands on my head to get deeper breaths.
As a contrast, when my girls were little they always insisted that they didn’t need help. “I can do it Me-Self!” was a constant refrain at our house. Even though I should know better, I frequently feel the same, I think I should be able to do everything myself.
In this case, before surgery I was able to walk and exercise without help, totally self-motivated. After surgery I really needed someone there to help and guide me back into regular walking. I didn’t want help, but I could see that laying around feeling sorry for myself wasn’t getting me where I wanted to be. My sister showed me how important it was to have someone helping and encouraging me when it was too hard to do on my own, then my friends and family all pitched in to get me back on my feet.
The result of getting help has been a very speedy recovery.
Have you ever had a time where you needed help doing something that you can normally do on your own? How hard was it to ask for help?