Conscious Healing: Time Well Spent
To heal - to restore to health, to make healthy, whole or sound.
It sounds so simple, when you look at the dictionary definition of the verb ‘to heal’.
Most of us are able to take healing for granted; When we scratch ourselves, our skin performs the miracle of knitting back together with little intervention on our part. When we suffer with a cold or cough, our immune system sweeps into action and overcomes the virus, allowing us to continue as normal.
But what happens when we face bigger health challenges? When we need major surgery? When we birth a baby? When we suffer from a chronic illness, or when we suffer a life-changing physical or emotional trauma?
Is taking for granted that we will naturally heal from these things the right approach? Or should we take a more active and responsible part in our recovery to full health?
Three weeks ago, I had my left hip replaced. This surgery was months in the planning. Was it really time to go ahead and do it? Would it solve the hip problems and give me freedom to exercise and dance again?
Decision made, I began to plan for my recovery. I decided I would, with the help of homeopathy and osteopathy, make a brilliant recovery. Positive thinking in action, I was told to take six weeks off work, so I booked off four. “I won’t need that long” I thought. I love my work, and six weeks off seemed too long.
I made a long list of all the things I would do with my time off: Reading, sewing, learning italian, Christmas shopping online, journaling, catching up with friends. I was looking forward to my time off!!
I joined a hip replacement support group on social media. Inspired by stories of incredibly quick recoveries, I told myself, “That’ll be me”, promising myself the super fast, smooth recovery of some of the group members. All the while conveniently forgetting that social media is all about the ‘best versions’ of ourselves, forgetting that the people who were plodding through an ‘average’ or ‘slower’ or ‘one step forward, three steps back’ recovery, were not going to be posting about it nearly so much, as no-one wants to share gloom and struggles.
So here I am, 23 days after surgery, and I am reflecting on my plan for my recovery.
Only now have I realised...I forgot to factor in that I would be healing. And that takes time and a whole lot of energy.
We get so blasé about medical procedures. We hear all the time of a friend, cousin or grandma having a hip replacement, we marvel over what is possible. But unless we are right there, we don’t see the struggles, the frustration, the pain and the exhaustion that come with major orthopaedic surgery.
I have not looked at my Italian books, I have done no Christmas preparation, I’ve not opened the new journal I bought to chart my progress. I haven’t done much sewing, or reading. On the surface it looks like I have done very little.
But look at what my body has done!
My body has healed the six inch, full depth wound on my hip. In just 23 days it has transformed to a thin silver sliver of a scar - how amazing is that?
My body has detoxed the anaesthetic drugs, antibiotics and painkillers that were a necessary part of the procedure. How incredible that it can do that!!
My broken bones and bruised muscles have repaired to such an extent that in just 23 days, I am able to walk using just one crutch to support myself.
What is truly remarkable, is that my body has done all of this in spite of my frustration at not being able to do things, even when I pushed too far too fast and raged at setbacks.
However, in the last few days, I have been thinking. What would happen if I really paid attention to my body’s healing process? What if I opted for truly conscious healing?
What if, instead of planning to fill my time post op with ‘doing’, I decided to opt for just ‘being’ and ‘healing’?
If asked “What are you doing today?”, is it ok for me to reply “I am resting and healing”?
Yes, I think perhaps it is ok.
Instead of feeling a bit guilty about sitting about achieving very little, I could have been consciously celebrating every step forward, every new stage in my recovery, every single step taken with my miraculous new hip!!
So today, I am changing my mindset.
This morning I woke up feeling frustrated at the prospect of another day of going slow, working out how to do things one handed, needing to ask for help for what are usually simple tasks.
But this afternoon, I have remembered that I am so grateful for the healing I am experiencing. And even more grateful that I have the resources both emotionally and materially to convalesce and heal.
So, for everyone who needs some time to heal, from whatever kind of illness, surgery, trauma or exhaustion that might be, isn’t it time we remember that our healing is a miracle? One that should be nurtured, cared for and encouraged with genuine empathy, nourishment and rest and true self-care?
It’s time to take back time to heal.