Alone Is Not Lonely
It has been a few weeks since my surgery. Quick recap: I underwent transsphenoidal pituitary surgery on October 4th to address a small mass at my anterior pituitary gland. They went through my left nostril to complete the surgery. They also made about a 2-inch incision in my abdomen to obtain a fat graft to fill the empty space that the mass once occupied (to prevent cerebrospinal fluid from leaking). Overall, the neurosurgeon was happy with the surgery. I am recovering well aside from some minor issues with my abdominal incision. I still have headaches daily; however, they seem to be improving. I still have an overwhelming feeling of fatigue, which I can rationalize as a combination of sleeping like shit, recovering from a somewhat major surgery, and my hormones still trying to get regulated. All things considered, I really cannot complain. I am very fortunate to have such a wonderful and caring support community of family and friends who are constantly checking in to see how I am feeling and making sure I have everything I could ever possibly need. The one question that everyone asks me is: “Are you going stir crazy yet?” This is a legitimate question considering my on-the-go, always-be-busy style of leading life prior to surgery. My answer, much to their surprise, is “No.”
Honestly, I’m not going stir crazy at this point. I think it is partly due to the fact that I am still recovering and healing. My energy levels are low, so my day currently consists of eating, trying to nap, walking Rosie, trying not to sneeze, and making one “outing” per day (short trip to the grocery store or coffee shop). Exciting stuff, I know. The other side of this, is maybe (hopefully) I am actually learning to slow down. Maybe I am learning that I don’t have to pack every single waking minute of my day with something…Maybe…One thing I know for sure, these past few weeks have taught me a few things about myself, healing, and slowing down.
First, I’m learning that “alone is not lonely.” I saw this quote on Instagram earlier this week and it struck a chord. These past two weeks (and the coming two weeks) are probably the most time I’ve ever spent by myself. I work in two jobs where I am always surrounded by people. Don’t get me wrong, I love both of my jobs and the people that come into my life because of them. However, I am learning that I like being by myself and I’m actually OK being alone. The fact that I am alone so much these days does not mean that I am lonely. I used to be afraid of being by myself and feeling lonely. I would get anxious about feeling empty or lost. I would tell myself it was selfish to want time away. I’m learning that it is OK, and actually can be good for you to spend a significant amount of time on your own. It does not mean you are alone or empty. In my case, it has given me time to simply do what I want to do and be how I want to be. I can get lost in my own thoughts. I can think about the big picture and set some lofty goals for myself. I’m realizing it is ok to be alone because it has given me time to focus on me. And this is not selfish.
Secondly, I’m learning that a jam-packed schedule is not necessarily a measure of a person. The “busier” you are does not coincide with your amount of self-worth. Prior to surgery, I was definitely guilty of needing to schedule every single second of my day. Part of that is my Type A personality, my “need to be in control.” The other part of that is this convoluted idea I put in my head: “I was so busy today, it was a good day,” as I lay down for sleep, utterly exhausted. So now that I have been more or less “forced” to slow down, I am learning to like the fact that I am not on such a rigid schedule. I actually sit and enjoy my coffee in the morning while I read or listen to a podcast, versus seeing coffee as just a vehicle for energy. Small things like this that I used to simply not do or rush through, I am now slowing down and appreciating.
Lastly, I am slowwwwwly learning to accept where I am, the body I have today, the mindset that I woke up with this morning. Now I would be lying to you if I said this process of healing and recovery has been all sunshine, rainbows, and burpees. I’m not looking for a pity party, I just want to be real with you. I’ll be honest to the point of being vulnerable, that it is a struggle mentally to not work out for this amount of time. I’m not saying I want to rush into the gym and do some squats or go for a run or repeat my birthday WOD. I don’t have the energy to even fathom doing any of those things these days. But the mental and emotional body image conflict is ever-present in my mind. I can rationalize in my head that I’m not going to lose all of my strength, gain thirty pounds, or be unable to run a 5k; however, I can also be very irrational and convince myself that these things could very well become reality. Messed up. I know. Truth is, I have actually gained some weight since surgery, which health-wise, is a very good thing. I would be lying to you if I said I was 100% ok with it though. I could go on and on about this, but I think you get the idea. The mental and emotional side of recovering from a surgery that essentially changes your lifestyle, even if briefly, can be quite challenging, a struggle at times. When I find myself going down the rabbit hole of negative self-talk and poor body image, I try to keep in mind this quote by S.C. Lourie: “Breathe darling. This is just a chapter. It’s not your whole story.” And I take a deep breath and try to accept where I am.
So long story even longer, I am healing well and taking it day by day. All things considered, I truly believe this surgery and, even more so, the consequential time off, have been a blessing. The things that I am learning about myself are invaluable in my opinion. I can’t guarantee that I won’t return to my old habits once I’m “cleared;” however, I am proving to myself that I can actually slow down. More so, I can slow down and be OK, even dare I say, enjoy it. I challenge each of you to give it a try: take some time and do “nothing,” schedule “nothing,” be OK with just being. Let me know how it goes.
Hugs and Burpees,