Five days ago, I had surgery.
It was the third surgery like this one I’ve had: a laparoscopic operation to remove some of the endometriosis from my pelvis. Three small incisions were made in my lower abdomen in an effort to get to scope and treat my inside pelvic region.
I never look forward to procedures, but by the time I’ve made the decision to have surgery, I’ve been suffering with pain. While I’m still working, my life beyond work is minimal. For someone who is an extrovert like I am, this is not living.
So I had the procedure. All seemed to have gone well. But each and every surgery brings worries along with it as well as knowledge of post-surgery living.
In the days following surgery, I’ve noticed a pattern. The first couple of days, I’m extremely exhausted, and my body is in healing mode. My days are filled with nap upon nap. Then I’ll move into the next phase in which I know I’m feeling better. I can’t do much physically as I’m still very sore. My body yearns to heal but my spirit wishes I could be among the living again. My extroverted self is being crushed by the mandatory rest period.
So, besides sleeping, here’s what I’ve done in the past few days:
- Watched television
- Watched Netflix
- Watched HBO Go
- Watched whatever is On Demand
- Watched YouTube videos
- Watched a video I rented from Amazon
- Watched Jeopardy each night
- Read many, many articles
- Colored in my Lisa Frank coloring book.
I’ve done a little work here and there as well – from designing some social media posts to making a few phone calls. Yet I’m exhausted both physically and mentally, so my energy comes in small waves.
I’m not the only young-ish person I know trying to recover from illness or injury. Friends of mine have been placed on bed rest, and I have this notion that it hasn’t been too much fun for them to rest either. We are “jump into life with both feet” people, and this necessary time off is against our nature.
What we must be reminded of is that the healing process isn’t an overnight thing. In scripture, we see Jesus healing, and all of a sudden his ailing followers are completely well. Jesus didn’t ask them to spend a week in bed after he heals them. Lazarus didn’t take additional time to rest after his resurrection. The woman with the hemorrhage didn’t need a week to gain back her strength after touching the hem of Jesus. Their healing was instantaneous.
My healing is not.
In real life, the way Jesus healed is not how realistic recovery works. When God gives us healing, our responsibility is to rest and follow medical advice as part of the recovery process.
Let’s face it: instant gratification is a drug in our world. We consider the rest time as a luxury and not a mandate. When we realize that we can not escape a mandatory rest period with an illness, surgery, or injury, then we often feel guilty. Our work has always taken top priority – why rest when we should be carrying a normal work load only days after a surgical procedure!
This is when the Sabbath commandment is crucial. Sabbath is not only about building our relationship with God, but caring for the relationship with ourselves. Our self-care is needed for us to heal properly so that we can follow God’s call for our lives and work diligently down the road.
I’m trying not to feel guilty about all of the naps I’ve taken in the past few days or zoning out as I color in my Lisa Frank coloring book or rewatching old episodes of Parks and Recreation for the billionth time. God needs me to take this time right now to build my body as God will need me to work hard a few days and weeks down the road.