Last week was a time of simple focus; just set a small goal for the day and let everything else go. On Monday, my cousin, Kim drove me back to where I used to live for a much-needed haircut appointment. It was more than I could do to drive and to get myself to the haircut and other errands. We stopped at Trader Joe’s and I showed her my shopping list. I used the cart to steady myself and pick up my usual items while she looked for the things that were new. We had one other stop and then returned home, after eating an early dinner. How good that cheeseburger and chocolate shake tasted along with our conversation about our trip to Scotland. When I got home, I was exhausted and had to take a nap.
The next day I set a small goal of walking to my mailbox, then later strolling through my entire neighborhood. I saw others, whom I normally see on my daily walks, going by at an exercise speed–which would be typical of me. I stopped and watched them hurry by, and while I felt that inclination to catch up to them, my body wouldn’t let me. How quickly life can change, I thought. While I knew that my weaken state is temporary, it was sobering to realize how circumstances can alter your course. But then I had to remember that a week before, I’d been in a hospital bed–unable to get up without help. I was making progress.
I’d expected by mid-week to feel much better, to be able to carry on conversations and respond to emails and phone calls as normal. But somehow, I still felt very foggy–in an almost surreal way. I called a friend who’d been with me when I got really sick, taking me to the hospital and staying with me through my admission. He’s also a therapist and I explained my fogginess, my feelings of unreality.
“You know, you’ve been really sick. Your body went through a lot while you were in the hospital,” he reminded me.
We talked about all the aspects of the three days in the hospital, the impact of pneumonia on my breathing and ability to take in what was going on. He suggested that part of my feelings of fogginess may be from not having my usual activities–all those things that normally orient and ground us.
Later that day, remembering my conversation with him, I decided I had to push through and get out around other people. My doctor had cleared me for short drives and there was a Super Walmart just five minutes away. In the quiet of the early afternoon, I drove carefully to the store. I got a buggy to steady me, and thought of my mother-in-law, Mary Dell who always used those carts for the same purpose. So many times I’d thought of her during my illness–understanding how she responded when she was in the hospital–things we children hadn’t experienced at that point.
I stopped at different sections throughout the store. I observed the customers buying produce— mother’s with small children, elderly couples hanging on to each other. I walked down many aisles, only putting a few items in the cart to buy–more interested in my “orientation x 3” (or how many?!). It was if I said, “This is what some of the rest of the world is doing today.” It may sound trite, but it was better than trying to figure out my fuzziness within the walls of my townhouse, all alone.
I did have friends bring me meals on a couple of days and had nice visits, enjoying the one -to -one time that we seldom have. So many people have offered kindnesses of bringing food, visits, talks on the phone. I appreciate all those offers–but the truth is, I didn’t have the energy to receive all those things. After each visit I’ve needed a nap.
My trip to Walmart was helpful, and I followed that same course the following days. By then, I was at the weekend with more usual activities— like going to my grandson, Baker’s Tee-ball game. Being in the stands, cheering–not quite as loudly as usual–which my son, Ross said was “fine”, I felt more normal than I’d been since before getting sick. How good it felt to do regular things.
This is what I have to offer you this week. Some of it may seem like a tedious account of a self-indulgent sick lady. But what I hope may be helpful, is that the slow, steady progress of taking even small actions, of getting help when you’re down, is the sure path to getting better. I look back over the week, and while those actions seemed small, their accumulation along with the measure of love and support from you all, have encouraged me and helped me to be closer to my normal.
I feel hopeful that with another week or so, I will feel totally like myself again. But this time, I want to be a wiser version of myself— carefully looking at my energy expenditure, knowing that all activity has a cost, and all has a relative benefit. That’s true for each of us, and hopefully it won’t take getting sick for us to count the costs, and choose wisely.
Best to you and thanks so much for all your expressions of kindness.
9 thoughts on “Slow and Steady Progress”
You have gained so much wisdom through this experience. May your recovery progress at a good pace this week.
Thanks a lot, Big Sis.
I hope this wisdom stays with me and is put into action instead of forgotten when I feel better.
So sorry to hear you’ve been suffering, Connie. The whole group is sending you healing thoughts and we’re pulling for a swift and total recovery.
Thanks so much for your message. I am feeling much stronger and know that I’ll be back to normal before so long.
I still miss you and the others from group and think of you all with the writing prompts etc. I hope you’re all doing well.
Thanks again for your good wishes.
You are in my prayers, Connie. Continue to take one day at a time, and remember naps are good for you during this time. Hope to see you soon!
Thanks so much for your prayers and good wishes. You’re right about naps–and going forward they’ll be a more routine part of my schedule!
Hope you and your family are doing well. One of these days I hope to see you at a dance. That’s part of our Health Program!
OK, I will not scold you like I did last week. The one thing I did last week was to consciously put you in my daily thoughts. You are there daily, but I made a special effort to put a little heavier effort with the hopes that your strength would help you continue. Love and Blessing to you. John,
I didn’t take anything as scolding—I must have missed your point! Ha!
Thanks for your continuing support and good wishes. I am much better—now that I’ve been out of the hospital for over 2 weeks. Your good thoughts of me must have helped.
Yes, my strength has been renewed and is helping me to take on new eyes–which I’ll say more about in my next post.
Hope you are well and enjoying each day.
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