My biggest mistakes

Overdoing it by overruling my intution and following a PT’s suggestion

  • On my fourth day post-surgery, my Kaiser home visit PT (someone I had never met before) visited and, impressed with how easily I was moving around the house, asked me if I had been outside. “Outside?” I replied. “I wasn’t planning on leaving the house for two weeks.” The PT replied, “Well, since you can already maneuver those stairs from your bedroom, I’m sure you can manage the steps down to the street and start taking short excursions”. Thus emboldened, I asked my visiting in-laws to take me out to a favorite restaurant for lunch. What I didn’t realize is that the uneven pavement, navigating into and out of the car, and time spent without my legs elevated was going to be too much. I had been eager to impress my PT. And as a result, I was sore and had to limit my activity for a few days. No real harm done, but it was a stark reminder that I couldn’t just follow what my medical team were advising. I had to balance that against my own sense of my capabilities.
  • Over time, I adopted a new habit. When I felt that I could resume some activity, like standing on one leg while putting on pants, I wouldn’t act on it immediately, but wait to have that impulse several times before attempting it under optimum conditions (ie standing next to a wall). That was during week ten, btw.

Overdoing it because I felt like I wasn’t doing enough.

  • During week seven, a member of my family teased me that I was laying around all the time and not doing chores. Triggered by shame, I launched into emptying the dishwasher, wiping countertops, and then driving around doing more errands than I should have packed into one day. My soreness that night and following day reminded me that I couldn’t control how much capacity I had, and that overdoing it would only limit my progress towards resuming all my normal activities.

Overdoing it out of impatience.

  • It was sometime around week four or five before I managed to walk all the way around my block with my dog. It was an accomplishment that I had been envisioning during Peggy’s mindset CD and I had grown impatient with walking down the street and back. I wanted to complete the loop, even though that meant a long gradual uphill, followed by a fairly steep downhill. What I wasn’t expecting was that halfway down the incline I would feel a compelling need to sit down and rest on a neighbor’s stoop. My legs had become wobbly and I felt unsafe for the first time. If you observe yourself making a decision about activity based on fulfilling some image or expectation, think again.

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