The journey is an education. I’ve learned volumes about how our bodies work, how we make it more difficult and easier for our bodies to do their jobs.
A key component in our lives is sleep.
It’s not good enough to say “Well, I don’t require much sleep.” Actually, the sleep needs of our bodies vary and are very different – depending on what is going on.
Sleep is when our body recovers. If we don’t give our bodies enough sleep, guess what? We don’t heal like we would with adequate sleep.
I’ve been as guilty as anyone in pushing myself past what is reasonable. Neglecting nutrition, exercise and sleep so I could do something that may or may not be necessary or even smart.
This journey has taught me to be smarter.
I’ve learned and experienced the effect getting enough sleep can have on healing.
The signals for this weren’t always what I looked for. After my first surgery last July 9, I pushed myself beyond what my surgeon had recommended. It wasn’t that I lifted or reached past my given limitations, but I was up and around lots more than she recommended.
I thought I had my own definition for “taking it easy.” But that just wasn’t true. When told her of my symptoms (tingling in the arm and ache in the shoulder on my surgery side), she said you haven’t been resting enough. You’ve been up and about, haven’t you?
Guilty as charged.
After that, I paid lots of attention to my body’s signals and would quickly opt for a nap if I felt myself getting fatigued.
As I began chemo (especially the first 4 of my treatments) I found this realization very valuable and it helped me to tolerate what could have been a much more difficult few months.
I HAD to rest as these first 4 treatments took place in 2 week cycles. As I started the second phase on a weekly basis, the treatment didn’t “put me down” for a day or so as the first 4 had, but not resting would show up on me the next week and potentially prevent enough recovery to take place to have my next treatment. So I had to force myself to rest – even when I didn’t feel tired or fatigued.
With this second phase reconstruction surgery, I’m trying to just rest. It’s pretty important for me to heal quickly and be ready for radiation in just a couple of weeks. So neglecting rest, depriving my body of the sleep it needs to heal would be a really bad – and pretty stupid thing for me to do.
I’ve done pretty well since last Tuesday. I rested after getting home on Wednesday. I rested Thursday morning, visited with family for a few hours and then rested for several hours after they left. Friday was pure rest. Saturday, I spent about an hour cleaning out some files, but began to feel that the movement of my arms was too much so I stopped and rested more.
There were some things I missed this weekend. I’m really sorry that I missed the entire Jackrabbit employee retreat. I wanted to go for at least a session or two on Friday or Saturday. But I think it’s good that I listened to my body and got some good rest instead. It really would have been pushing it and I think I would have paid for it later.
Each time I’ve made myself rest, my body has seized on the opportunity. I read that as a sure sign that I was in need of the rest. Today, I’m doing some things, but only those that just require a little typing and perhaps reading. Nothing taxing. No cleaning out files or folding laundry. I’m going to read my body signals and help it along in the healing process with rest.
Sleep. Sweet sleep. It really does make a difference.
*I saw the yawning images on buzzfeed.com. They’re too cute!