Monday, May 29, 2017

New Beginnings...

Pre-School Graduation 2003

I always knew this day would come.  I’ve been preparing for it for eighteen years, so I’m not sure why it feels surprising right now. Every day for the last few weeks, as I’ve watched my newly independent, slightly mouthy high-school senior leave my house, I’ve shed more than a few tears.  It’s not like he’s leaving the planet.  He’s just graduating and going to college…..just 45 minutes away.
            Transitions and new beginnings are like Hallmark commercials; doesn’t matter what they are, but they bring me to tears.  Saying good-bye to a special time, knowing it will never be repeated, is heartbreaking.  I’ve done it so many times in my life that I’ve learned to do it quickly and move on to the next step and find the positivity in it.  This one is a little harder.  The gut-puncher here is I’ve just completed the most important thing I’ll ever do.  For the last twenty years, I’ve meticulously and lovingly prepared and planned and cooked and cleaned.  I’ve co-parented two challenging, intelligent, curious boys who have brought their share of hard decisions. I’ve been the heart of my family; the problem-fixer; the boo-boo kisser; the broken-heart mender.  All these years, my job as Mom has been to create little people who can grow up to be big people who can take care of themselves.  Now that they can, it’s left me a little broken hearted.

            I’ve been reminded that our job as a parent is to raise our children to leave us. This is the first time in my life I’m devastated by a job well done. However, as I wipe my tears, I remind myself that while my little one goes off to become the person he is meant to be, he is not the only one graduating next week.  I am also off to take the next step in my journey here.  While my main Mom duties will change, it’s an opportunity to reinvent Me.  What makes Me happy? What do I want to do with the rest of my life? Maybe I’ll find a new hobby?  Travel somewhere off the beaten path. Take up cooking classes with my Honey. I’ve started and stopped many careers while being a wife and mother but in the end I always chose to put my family first.  It’s exciting to figure out what my new life will look like. I have no idea what that looks like today, but I’m excited to figure it out.  I guess we’re all growing up.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Nobody Puts Dena in the Corner

For anyone who actually reads my positivity diary/blog – I am BAAAAACK!  I had to take a month off while I was recuperating from surgery – painkillers and cohesive thoughts don’t work well together. 

We all have our strengths and we all have our weaknesses.  I’m the first to admit that idleness is not my friend, and I can be impatient and stubborn.  On the plus side, I almost always greet every day with a smile and take on challenges with optimism.  This past month, I’ve combined my weaknesses and strengths and am happy to report I’ve come out on the winning end.

Discovering that I needed a hip arthroscopy at my age was a huge bummer and, while I was not excited about the pain I would ensue for the coming months, it was the lack of independence and immobility that shook me to my core.  I’m claustrophobic by nature.  I hate airplanes, elevators and any small space I am not allowed to quickly exit.  Being trapped in my own body is literally the thing I’m most afraid of….and knowing this would go on for up to six months is a mind torture I can’t put into words.  I knew if I was going to get through this I would have to be very strategic.

The first few post-op days were a bit of a blur (thank you, drugs) but even through my haze I knew from the get-go that if I had a chance of getting through this with sanity, I had to find a way to pull out all my positivity.  I focused on gratitude.  The support of my family was overwhelming. I was so grateful to have help, as I literally couldn’t move at all.  My family did absolutely everything for me and they did it with love and grace.  I was also grateful that I had the luxury of convalescing at home and not in a rehab facility.  I focused on the change in my physical pain.  I could finally envision a life without chronic pain. There was instant relief after surgery.  Yes, it was replaced by surgical pain, but it was such a relief! I told myself to just keep it together and push through the coming weeks.

For someone like me, who doesn't like to ask for help, it's an out-of-body experience to need help to do absolutely everything.  I'm fiercely independent and I was worried what being bed-ridden would do to my metal health.  As challenging as it sometimes was, I refused to have a pity-party.  As soon as I could move I got dressed (with help) and put on make up and left the house like a real lady. Pain be damned- take me to lunch!  Human beings are social creatures, and isolation is breeding grounds for depression.  I wasn’t even giving that a chance.

Ever the over-achiever, I have never been content to do anything half-assed.  I began physical therapy right away.  I do exercises every day in between and I ask for more and more so we can get this show on the road. I am now one month post-op and I still have a long way to go, but I have made HUGE strides.  I’m way ahead of schedule with my physical expectations; I can walk without crutches.  My goal is to attend my son’s graduation next month without a brace and no crutches and I’m feeling positive I’ll get there. 

The impatient side of me is “soooo over this” - I miss jumping in the car and going wherever I want on a whim.  It’s still a bummer to wake up with discomfort and physical limits but I’m still focusing on how much I’m moving forward.  Through this process, I’ve been forced to slow down. I’ve been forced to stay put.  Slowing down is a positive thing sometimes.  I pay more attention to the conversations I am having.  I read with more intent. I pay attention to detail.  I make conscious choices to be happy and positive and grateful.  But don’t get me wrong, I am in a HURRY to heal and be done with this!

Several weeks into my PT I met a young man, “L,”  who was learning to walk again after being paralyzed for three years.  He was literally trapped in his body for three years and here he was holding the door of the elevator for me one day, one hand stabilizing himself on his walker, and one hand holding the door for me.  We started talking and I was so impressed with his positive attitude and zest for life.  He wanted no pity for his situation, nor did he expect help.  A man after my own heart!   I also met an amazing elderly woman in PT who broke both of her kneecaps.  She must be well into her 80s but nothing is slowing her down. She, and “L” exercise with me every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and we are all determined to recover.  We always greet each other with smiles and encouragement and I say the same thing each time…..”Wanna race?”