From bad ass beast to bed rest beast: Tips to recovering from surgery
I like to think of myself as an athlete still, even at age 28. I'm extremely active; everything from basketball and CrossFit to running and hiking/exploring, and all those activities have taken a toll on my body.
I was in total denial of this. Being a Harvard grad, I thought I knew everything... boy, was I wrong! I've been playing basketball since I was 4 all the way through college. I still play pick-up games in the city, but my main love now is CrossFit and running. Back in January 2013, I was squatting some really heavy weight and instead of "Pop Goes the Weasel," pop went my knee. Fast forward to now, and I'm currently recovering from having my knee scoped along with a lateral release.
Sports injuries are so common. The wear and tear we athletes inflict on our bodies is deceiving; that wear is felt long after the "glory days" that we have yet to accept as the "glory days." And those injuries? They probably rival in number to your amount of Instagram followers. Ain't nobody got time to 1) live in excessive amounts of pain and 2) park it on the couch for weeks on end after surgery. So, how do you recover?
1. Let your mom take care of you
OK, all of you can't be spoiled like I was during my latest knee surgery, but if she's available, take advantage! The less you have to depend on yourself for just a few days, the more relaxing and rewarding your recovery time will be.
Note: All my single ladies, follow this advice. If you're not married or have a long-time boyfriend, don't count on any man to care for you after surgery. The solution is not slapping a steak on it or rubbing some dirt on that incision site. Leave the caretaking to your mom or girlfriends. Men are babies when it comes to pain!
Rest, ice, compression and elevation. Let me break it down further...
- Rest: Sit yo ass down somewhere (comfortable) for a minute! Without rest, you'll just continue to place additional strain on your newly repaired body part. Rest times after surgery differ by procedure but a general rule of thumb is that your period of rest should be long enough for the majority of your function to be restored and pain essentially nonexistent.
- Ice: Ice every 20 minutes on the hour to reduce inflammation and pain. However, don't try to be a tough girl and place ice directly on your skin. Instead, place ice within a towel or other insulating material before wrapping around the area. Also, try not to exceed icing time recommendations. Icing too much can slow healing.
- Compression: Listen to your doctor. The point of compression is to reduce swelling/inflammation. Invest in a quality elastic bandage that will, when wrapped snugly, allow for you to move that body part enough but not too much. Another option is a compression stocking or sleeve, depending on the limb.
- Elevation: The goal here is to reduce swelling by increasing blood flow.You've heard it before and you'll hear it again now: Try to keep the affected body part elevated above your heart.
3. Don't be like Amy Winehouse
If "they" try to make you go to rehab, you need to be screaming "yes, yes, yes." Physical rehabilitation is the essential step in making a full recovery. Having a formal program of physical therapy is quite beneficial, but if you're anything like me (fabulous, hard-headed, anxious to be active) and accustomed to a very intense exercise program, make sure you ask your surgeon at your first post-op before returning to it.
Here are two extra tips if you're needing to recover from knee surgery.
- Don't attend the Kevin Hart "What Now?" show less than 24 hours after surgery. While he's absolutely hilarious, your knee will be screaming at you about 3/4 of the way through the show and you don't even want to know the pain level the next day. Like I said before, sit yo ass down somewhere for a minute.
- Don't agree to join your dad in some father/daughter bonding over the Chiefs/Chargers football game. The reason you ask? Crutching around an NFL stadium is not fun. Period. It will also leave bruises on your sides and under your armpits. Let's see when those will disappear!
While the above two activities sound like good ideas, I'm reminded of the e-card: "My life is just a bunch of 'it seemed like a good idea at the time' strung together." Don't be me!
Your goals during recovery are to manage your symptoms and regain pain-free strength and function. Full recovery is a process; don't expect a miracle overnight. However, if you go into your surgery prepared for the post-op process, you'll be armed with the information to reach your recovery goals in the most efficient manner possible.
Strong is beautiful. And fully recovering from surgery before jumping back into your badassness is highly recommended. Your body will thank you in the long run.