Thursday, May 9, 2013

Turns Out I'm Just Like Everyone Else.....

Yesterday marked three weeks since Zooey made her grand entrance via c section. Initially I was quite pleased with my surgical recovery. I was out of bed within 12 hours (mostly because those hours were overnight, I imagine I would have been up even sooner otherwise), and I finished a walking mile within 20 hours of the delivery, ensuring I did not miss a single dailymile. Eating and normal bodily functions resumed on day one. I was up and about spending very minimal time in bed. Sure I had some pain but a very occasional norco and around the clock ibuprofen took care of it enough that I could carefully function. However I quickly became impatient with my recovery after leaving the hospital. I assumed my recovery over the first few days was a sign that I'd be almost good as new in a week or so. I assumed that since I exercised throughout my pregnancy, I'd have a leg up and recovery at the speed of light. Not true. Apparently being an exerciser doesn't have any particular skin healing benefits becuse my incision site continued to cause some pain for about 10 days. Not bad pain, but enough that I knew I needed to be careful. I decided that c-section recovery is a bit of a cruel joke. I felt fine energy wise, I really felt great overall, except for the incisional (and a bit of uterine) pain. And the very simple daily activities required to take care of a new baby are the exact ones that I couldn't do comfortably (and would jeopardize my long term recovery). Picking up baby from a low position (think day bed or pack and play), no can do. Getting up from couch or bed without using hands (i.e. while holding baby), no can do. Picking up items (ex burp cloth) from the floor, impossible. I learned how to use my toes to pick stuff up but even this was painful for a couple days. Honestly, I could have returned to work by day 5- sit at a computer and type? No problem. Walk from patient room to patient room? Fine. Sit in a hard backed chair with armrests to push off of to get up? A-okay. But taking care of baby? Painful. Thank god for Adam and my Mom. I felt RIDICULOUS sitting on the couch, a totally usually able bodied person, asking others to get me a glass of water or a bottle just out of reach. I would be a terrible sick person, let's hope I stay healthy.

Me vs The Walking Man
And walking continued to hurt for way longer than I anticipated. Again, the pain wasn't bad. It was totally bearable, so I tried to avoid taking pain medicine except at night because to me the pain was a reminder to take it easy. I knew my tendency would be to overdo activity without the physical reminder (i.e. pain) that I needed to heal. But my walking speed was a bit of a joke. For example, one week after delivery, I had a pre-existing hair cut appointment. I decided to keep it because I don't want to let having a baby destroy my attempts at maintaining personal upkeep (mani/pedi is on the agenda for this weekend, and a day hasn't gone by where I don't put on make-up, even if it's just for my own sake). So I walked the 1.3 miles to the salon. I'm glad I did but man was I walking slow. Embarrassingly slow. Like, I almost didn't make it across some of the streets in time even though I started walking right when the light turned green. I felt ridiculous. One day I walked my mile on the treadmill at 1.8 mph. One point eight! I told myself that the people in the gym must remember that I was just pregnant a few days ago hence my pace. Not that it matters what they think, but still, I have some pride and it was wounded!

Now I'm three weeks out and have been pain free for well over a week. The incision is healing nicely though still with small areas with scabbing so I agree with my very cautious husband that I shouldn't run yet. The last thing I want is to re-open the incision and set myself back. I have the Chicago Triathlon in August to train for! But I sure do wish I could run- beautiful spring days, I've lost all of the baby weight so my joints should be thrilled- I have 9 months of pent up motivation just aching to be released!

Another irony of the whole c-section thing: while pregnant I had virtually no activity limitations- I could run, spin, lift weights, swim- and did up until the day of delivery (I was at a spinning class the night before her birthday and I never missed a running mile). The limitations were regarding intensity, not type of activity. So I was careful to not be short of breath for too long and to never "go anaerobic". Now, post c-section, the restrictions are the exact opposite! I can get as short of breath as I want- there are no specific limitations on how hard I push myself cardiovascularly- but my activity limitations are so restrictive that it's really hard to get in a solid work-out. I can't lift weights, I can't run, I can't spin or swim. I'd be happy to take up a new activity, but basically all of them are verboten until after 6 weeks. Now I'm certainly not one to follow rules just to follow them, but since my incision is still not completely healed I agree I need to continue to be cautions. I'm hoping 4 weeks will be the day I test out running. Everyone says walking is fine, but I can speed walk a 15 minute mile and feel like I'm on the couch exertion wise so that's not super helpful. So I'm hill walking. Aggressively. On the treadmill. 10-12 grade and increasing daily. As far as I can tell, that's the only activity I'm "allowed to do". But even with that, I'm being cautions because I do start to feel a little pulling on the incision if I go past 20 minutes or so. So frustrating.

This is my blog, so from time to time (like today) I take the opportunity to vent and usually feel better afterwards. But I do want to say that I know I'm lucky I didn't have any complications (thus far) surrounding my c-section. No infections, no blood loss, I didn't have to labor first so I'm not dealing with the consequences of both. And Zooey is wonderful and healthy and I'm so happy to have her. So I know not being able to train yet is not the end of the world. But I also know myself and soon it will start to feel like the end of the world emotionally and physically even if rationally I know it's just a small amount of time in a whole lifetime of training and fitness. So, yes, I'm feeling a little sorry for myself but know that I do realize how lucky I really am. Let's just say I will be so, so grateful when I can run again. A 20 miler sounds like an absolute dream!

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