The incredible heaviness of healing


I am 11 weeks away from when I had back-to-back orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery and landed myself in a wheelchair for 7 weeks. If you ever want an exercise in frustration, I recommend having to have someone help you with the most basic tasks of everyday living. It’s a humbling experience, and a lesson in patience. It’s also a good way to discover that the person you married over 10 years ago is the right person as they take care of you, all the household chores, and all the childcare.

Still, I am walking without a cast now, doing physiotherapy, and generally able to try to get back my strength but it is an incredibly slow process. I am horrible at walking down stairs and slopes and I get angry at my body often for not healing faster. Patience, patience, patience.

It occurred to me this week that the lack of patience I am having with my body is also the lack of patience I have had in the past with my finances. It can get frustrating when it feels like you have put all this effort and time into making your debt go down or your savings go up and not seeing the results you want, faster. But things take time and getting frustrated and wanting to throw in the towel is normal. It’s even normal to make mistakes and go on a spending spree but the key is to stop, take stock, and move on. Throwing your hands in the air is not going make things any better, just like pushing myself into doing more is not going to make me heal any faster.

It’s been really difficult to give up things I love this spring. I couldn’t dragonboat race this spring because I couldn’t guarantee I would be an asset to the team. It was incredibly difficult to watch them on social media posting pictures of the camaraderie paddling off into the sunset with the person who replaced me. Friday night my neighbourhood book club also set out for their yearly summer outing and while they were experiencing an Indigenous walking tour of the city, I was at home with my foot up, trying to keep down the swelling. It’s heartbreaking to not be able to do the things I love with the people I love but I know deep down that pushing myself is just going to extend the amount of time I will need to heal. By staying back, knowing my limitations and being patient, I am guaranteeing my return to normal activities sooner rather than later.

Similarly, it can be frustrating to see people heading out for fancy lunches at work, driving to the office every day instead of bussing, and wearing cool new clothes. Working a full time job in an office is killer for this: it’s seeing it all around me that makes it more difficult to ignore. Still, I don’t buy fancy lunches and tend to eat lunch hunched over my desk (a horrible habit that I am changing!) but if I can keep my perspective I know that the money I am saving is going to make us mortgage-free sooner rather than later. By making the choice not to spend, I am guaranteeing I will reach my goals sooner rather than later.

In both scenarios the purpose is the same: making good choices now will help me get the bigger payoff, sooner. Sure, I could have smaller payoff now like a lot more delicious lunches or I could push myself to walk more but those smaller payoffs will not be a sweet as reaching the goal of a strong body, or a huge savings account that could, say, eventually lead to early retirement.

So this is the week I have marked my return to the dragonboat team. I am glad I didn’t try and come back sooner and I am happy that I feel strong enough to come back. I feel good that the team had someone reliable to race with for the big festival weekend and happy that now I can ease into paddling without feeling I need to perform stronger, sooner, because we are competing. It can be incredibly difficult to make the right decision but usually the right decision pays dividends that a wrong one never could.