Using person-centred thinking tools after surgery

26 February 2015

Using person-centred thinking tools after surgery

As you will know from my previous blogs, I have been struggling with severe neck and arm pain. I thought it was almost resolved and that I was on the road to recovery. A couple weeks ago I found myself in the emergency room with severe pain. I ended up with neck surgery to repair a herniated disc that was pinching a nerve and causing shooting pain down my right arm. I cannot work for at least a month and that’s very difficult for me.

While I’m off work I want to be intentional about how I spend this time. I can see how easy it would be to become depressed about not being able to do the most basic things that I am used to doing. I am a reformed workaholic however I still have those tendencies. So while I am off work, I have been using Dragon dictation, which allows me to speak and turn my words into typing. I am journaling my thoughts, feelings and ideas that I have every day while I’m on medical leave. It’s important to me to practice what I preach while I’m in the midst of a difficult situation.

I’ve been using the good day/bad day and the hopes and fears tools often, as I think through how my days are going. On the good days, since my surgery 10 days ago, I have found the opportunity to go outside and sit on my deck. I enjoy listening to the birds chirping and watching the grass green up, since we’re so close to spring. Also, I am spending more time with my mom. This has been a great opportunity for us to strengthen our relationship. This is the first time since I was in preschool where we have had time to just hang out.

On bad days I’m stuck inside all day because it’s raining. Also on bad days, I start to ponder the future. I wonder what it means to be 41 years old and to have had breast cancer when I was 30 and now to have serious neck/nerve problems. I get worried.

As a result of my surgery, I’m using every hour I have of vacation time and sick leave. This is causing our family to have to experience a “no vacation year”. While this sounds kind of frivolous, it is going to be a test for our family. Vacations are really important to us and this will likely be the first year we won’t take a big vacation somewhere. It’s not just me who’s experiencing difficulties with time off in surgery. I am putting my family through a tough time. My husband is my caretaker, in addition to having to be a Dad and work full time.

After I consider the good and the bad days, I like to come up with an action that will help me resolve some of the concerns I have about bad days or for something that will make good day’s more frequent. All I can do today is think about what I can do to get stronger. I need to minimize the time off and the impact it has on me and my family. What that means is I have to be a good patient. I have to not reach, not lift and focus on things that will help me heal and recover. I can get stuck in thinking about what I can’t do. Rather I will focus on what I can do.

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