I had my gallbladder removed last week and in the subsequent days not being able to do much physically or mentally I had the opportunity to explore to the full what to do when boredom hits. Feeling redundant having withdrawn from my domestic and ministerial roles temporarily, I had no choice but to patiently wait until things returned to the new normal. And yes, I have the opportunity to move on from this stage, but I think the things I learned may apply to a longer period out of action.
The thing I am mostly thankful for is the radio. In the UK we are privilege to be able to access political, historical, arts and faith programmes via BBC Radio 4 but as I understand it there is a lot of talk radio around that can help pull a person out of a post-Netflix quagmire. Not that there aren't documentaries on Netflix, but I found looking at a TV screen helped maintain my jellified brain, whatever the programming. Quality radio engages the brain and helps you feel included in a community and/or society even when you can't get out of bed.
Food! I blogged about part of this yesterday, because just thinking about preparing food enlivens me even though it can be disheartening not to be able to leap up and fix a snack myself. But I realised early on in my recovery that I needed to shove as many nutrients in my body as possible to raise it out of its post-op lethargy. And I wasn't afraid to task my husband with this, rather waiting for him to feed me when he was hungry. Chopped apple and raisins took me back to preschool days. There was a fruit salad. My evening meals were a thousand times better than hospital food, prepared with love and brought up on a tray by one or two family members. I even ate banana, which I don't enjoy much, because someone prepared me a banana snack. And it helped my recovery.
Prayer. On the one hand, this is a no-brainer, but on the other hand I have found it difficult to concentrate mentally and spiritually. Spending time in contemplative prayer or even following a short service in a book eluded me. Luckily I have the Northumbria Community's CD (check out their new prayer books!) on my iPhone and praying offices regularly during the day, however short, re-established some routine to both regular and prayer life. And can I just say that lying here, thinking of all the people I know, individually, in my family, congregation and wider community, asking God to hold them in his care at this time, was a darn sight easier than when I have my other commitments to attend to!
People. I shared news of my operation with quite a few people, which is a step up for me, used to keeping it private. And while I was sat here, fatigued, unable to deal with visitors but feeling isolated and lonely, it was a pleasure to receive cards, flowers and other messages from people who cared. Despite my tiredness, I could still text or message on Facebook. I didn't feel completely alone.
The Domestic Arena. Prior to my operation, I was organised. I rearranged the girls' wardrobes and walked my husband through where the clean clothes lived for each child. I reminded him of the laundry schedule (including bedsheets and towels) and planned dinners and ingredients for the first week, and then the next two weeks once I felt a little better. I mentioned things like playdoh craft as a good activity they hadn't done for a while. I even drew up a plan of what the girls needed in their packed lunches as what is a relatively straightforward task can actually rely on a lot of variables! By the time I was able to, I could listen to music practice and encourage homework. I couldn't do much, but I did what I could to ensure things went smoothly.
Finally, I consciously and unconsciously practised an attitude of gratitude. It is easy to always want more and different when you are lying there incapable. At times I needed socks on, wanted my laptop and couldn't make it out of bed for fresh water. But I had to be patient and tolerant and lower my expectations as I knew my husband had 4 children, a house and a business to look after at the same time. I'm sure I was at least a little snappish but I tried to show how thankful I was for the small things. My other half has been a complete hero and attended to so many of my needs. Which means I am going to put up with extremely overgrown leg hair for the moment as I think asking him to shave them would be just a step too far!
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