Trash Talk Tuesday #5: Adapt! Or…Don’t


Author’s note: Published 6 weeks after surgery so I had time to edit and make sure I actually made sense

I am just shy of 3 weeks out of surgery, and I’m pretty sure this blog post is going to suck, so you’re warned. At this point, I just want to write something – anything – to try and get my brain back to where it was pre-surgery.

Anesthesia does some funny things to you. For example, I had to edit that previous sentence. I wrote “things to do” instead of “to you.” I still feel like half the time I’m searching for words that I used to be able to pluck right out of the sky, and the other time, I use giant pauses and more often than not, “that thingie” when I’m stuck.

I now understand why my surgeon looked at me like “Oh you sweet summer child” when I asked what I could do as I was recovering. Because let me tell you, the first week you are doing nothing. The anesthesiologist was amazing and did a great job, and I got a nerve block prior to surgery that I was sadly still very awake for. And then I was in so much pain right after surgery I was convinced it didn’t work. Until the next day, when it wore off. Boy howdy did I learn the meaning of pain after that.

I did take the opportunity of massive amounts of painkillers to play Doki Doki Literature Club, which is best described as a horror game hidden within a Japanese dating sim. And then it was lots of audiobooks, Netflix, and just for a change of pace, more sleep. When you can’t even focus enough to read a book? That was the worst part of it.

The point of all of this being is that if I still held fast to my expectations of what I thought I’d be able to do after surgery I would have been one unhappy Jess. I could either accept that right now it’s nigh impossible to be creative the way I usually am – or I could not.

If you’re aware of Spoon Theory, I’d say that pre-surgery and pre-injury I probably had something like 1,000 spoons a day. If you consider each task you do as a spoon, something as simple as getting out of bed is 1 spoon. Brushing my teeth twice a day? Two more spoons. Getting dressed. Another spoon. I’d say conservatively the day job takes 500 spoons between varying projects, meetings, emails, and anything else that comes up; nevermind having to bounce around on tasks if something was broken.

Now? I feel lucky to have 6 spoons a day. Today’s spoons were:

  1. Reading
  2. Getting dressed
  3. Navigating to and from the bathroom on the knee scooter
  4. Reviewing an in-progress short story
  5. Writing this blog post
  6. Navigating on the knee scooter a few times around the apartment

And I’m exhausted. Showering is happening every other day at most because when you’re already exhausted, even that is too much to handle.

I learned very quickly that when your body is working like mad to heal itself, you adapt or you don’t, and then you make things worse. I really thought I’d be going back to work in two weeks, and I’m so, so glad that I’ve been approved (and have disability insurance) to cover extra time off. I desperately need it. A former coworker of mine had surgery last year, and she came back to work too early. A few weeks after her return she ended up taking an unplanned week off because she was beyond exhausted. All she did during that week off was sleep.

I don’t have the energy to handle even half of my workload right now, and you know what?

That’s okay. It’s enough.

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