The following are four things that I learned during the recovery process, post-surgery, and I share them here because I think that they're helpful in more general ways as well.
1. Drink water. Really. It's not only hydrating and good for the body, as your loved ones, health magazines, and doctors will tell you, but drinking water is also truly excellent for the spirit. Dyana Valentine, instigator extraordinaire, is the one who tipped me off to this one. I started drinking big glasses of cold water as "restart" mechanisms: after long and difficult conversations, after writing a painful or challenging passage in my novel, or if I was feeling stressed out and worn out. I took to drinking large glasses of cold water, and it served me well. Try it.
2. Be gentle with yourself. Sometimes, that looks like giving yourself time. I gained weight because abdominal/pelvic surgery does not allow for much post-surgical movement. I wanted to go for walks and do yoga. After a week or two, I started hankering for the gym. I still can't go to the gym yet, and I'm writing this from home because I went back to work today for the first time in over a month; halfway through the day I started having terrible pain.
I'd almost gone back to work one or two weeks after the surgery. I felt guilty about staying at home -- really, really guilty. I kept saying I would come back "soon" or "hopefully on _____" -- until Dr. K wrote me a letter saying that I needed three more weeks to recover (which turned into four, due to an internal infection resulting from the surgery). Dr. K's letter gave me permission to take time to heal. I learned to be okay with not pouring my own milk out of a gallon jug or letting the laundry sit for weeks. I started ordering grocery delivery online, which actually turned out to be significantly cheaper than schlepping to the expensive specialty market nearby. People came and cleaned the house.
I'm not saying that you need to do any of those things, but what I am saying is that sometimes your brain and body need tenderness, and you need to be the one to give it. Which is connected to 3.) --
3. Let your loved ones help you when you need help. In the final week of my recovery, Chris had to leave for a business trip. A dear friend flew out and stayed with me, and I'm ever so grateful for her help and love during that time.
While I was recovering, people made me meals, took out the garbage for me, brought me my packages from work, helped me navigate the California Short-Term Disability system, and so much more. And I'm really, really grateful for that.
4. Productivity doesn't always look like "productivity." Sometimes taking a nap is productivity when you're tired.
My MacBook is at the shop right now; I feel like I sent it away to summer camp for the first time, and I'm a nervous mom. Because all of my photo editing software is on that laptop, I can't guarantee that I'll post everyday -- but we'll see. I'd like to.
And, finally, thank you to everyone who wished me well. It was truly kind of y'all, and I'm sure that it helped me.