Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Post-op Guilt

I'm experiencing a range of emotions I was not only unprepared for, but I also certainly never expected while I've been at home recovering from surgery.  Of course if you are anything like me, and you are a relatively proud person, admitting you need help with something is hard enough on its own but actually asking someone for help can be a true test of your humility.

With that being said, I've started to develop a pang of guilt for being in the position I am currently in.  Let me elaborate.

I'm at home all day, every day, with nothing to do but sit in bed and 'recover'.  With a fair bit of discomfort I am able to sort of 'hop' around with the crutches to do things like go to the bathroom, go to the kitchen to get a new ice pack, etc.  Because I have to use both hands to use the crutches, carrying things around the apartment either doesn't work or I have to be pretty creative about it.  I'm also unable to put any weight at all on my recovering leg, so even if I put the crutches down, I am still only on one leg.  Now, this might not sound very bad to you, but I assure you that after a full week of doing this you find areas of your body are aching that you might have never expected.  My shoulders, the palms of my hands, and my wrists ache from using the crutches, my left hamstring and butt are VERY sore from being the sole leg I'm able to use, my right hip hurts from having to hold my right leg straight all the time, my back hurts from sitting in bed for hours and hours every day... the list goes on right now.

I'm restricted to eating what is left in the bedroom for me (currently I have a box of Quaker granola bars) and the water in the pitcher that is pretty much always room temperature.  If I get to the kitchen I can only stand for so long trying to get something to eat before I start to get dizzy from the pain of standing up, so I've been restricted to cold pizza on the two occasions I managed to get in there and get something to eat.

I can't shower yet because I am on one leg, and I can't have a bath yet because my incisions aren't completely healed yet, so I've only been allowed sponge baths.  You can imagine how inconvenient and tedious this process is.  I'm also only able to wash my hair in the sink, and with one sore leg and one leg I have to keep straight at all times, and having to use the small sink in the bathroom that my head barely fits in, this also gets to be very difficult.

So yeah... sitting at home recovering is nothing short of miserable.  I'm here alone all day every day with very little to entertain me, I'm pretty much always hungry and sore, and I'm hesitant to try to do too much at the risk of falling and not being able to get up, tweaking my knee in some weird way by accident and causing further injury, or just wearing myself out more than I already am by using my crutches too much.

And despite all this, I feel guilty.  I feel guilty that I can't clean my apartment despite the growing mess.  I feel guilty that I can't feed myself, I can't walk the dog, I can't do any laundry, I can't work, can't drive, can't go to the bank, can't do groceries...

Despite the many offers to help and the handful of people who have generously helped when and where they can, I still feel guilty that I can't just do these things myself.  I feel like I'm inconveniencing people when I ask for help, especially my husband.  Maybe some people don't find asking for help as difficult as I do, and if that's the case, then I envy those people.  But for me, asking for help is difficult because I hate to put people out; I hate to inconvenience people and I really hate to hear 'no' because often I take it personally and I know I shouldn't.

Even admitting these things out loud is difficult for me, because I have no idea how it will be taken, let alone if anyone will even care or at the very least even read this.  I suppose I'm just hoping that at least one person gets what I'm saying here, and then maybe I won't feel like such a freak for feeling guilty because I had surgery and I need other people to help me while I can't help myself.  And who knows... maybe one day I'll be able to get over asking for help and I won't feel like I'm admitting defeat by asking... and maybe people around me will finally realize just how hard it is for me to even ask.


  1. Glad to hear recovering is coming along, it’s a slow process for sure, but Physio should speed it up a bit. It does sound like you are finding out your current limitations and learning how to cope and deal with them too.

    It’s tough to be dependent on other people, dealing with pain and being immobile doesn’t help either. But like you say, just asking for help can be draining in and of itself. For me, posting on Facebook that I needed help getting a job was tough because, up until recently, I thought I should be able to get a job on my own merits, without anyone’s help.

    I noticed that the other day on Facebook, you posted that you wanted help cleaning and I thought to myself “wow that must have taken a lot to post that and for Caryn to put herself out there like that”. It’s hard to ask for help when you are probably used to being independent, productive and helpful yourself, and I know that being cooped up at home with not much to do just makes one dwell on these things even more.

    I know Joscelyn feels guilty whenever I come over to cook dinner for her, and it actually gets a little annoying that she feels bad when I’m doing her a favour lol, but I make sure to reassure her that it’s not really a big deal. Mainly because she shouldn’t feel guilty because she didn’t pressure me into it and I actually really enjoy cooking. Its win win in my mind. I guess what I’m saying is, anyone that comes over to help you, I assume isn’t doing it because they feel pressured or because they feel guilty themselves, but because they want to be there and want to help out. I don’t expect that saying something like that will change how you feel though, because it’s tough to shake those feelings of guilt.

    Nonetheless, if there is anything you think I could do to help out, lemme know. I know what it’s like to be cooped up inside and immobile.


  2. Thanks for your words of encouragement, Alex. I think most people forget how much some people really do need help and how hard it is for them to ask for it.

    All it takes is one person to ignore you, brush you off, or sigh and resign themselves to it while making it clear they don't really WANT to help you, and that's all it takes for you to close back up and refrain from asking ever again.

    I am hoping that physio will help get me back on my feet quick, but I'm definitely terrified of the pain I'm just betting will be pretty nasty those first few sessions while I learn to use my new tendon :(

  3. I can imagine that the unknown amount of pain would be a big turn off of physio, and it probably will be tough those first few times. But once you get used to it and your anxiety around it drops, I'm sure you'll feel better about it. I know it won't be a cakewalk, but best of luck at your first appt today.


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