The Messy Middle of Transitions

The end of the year seems to arrive faster and faster as more of them go by. Halloween costumes and candy are barely put away and it’s a downhill slalom into the holidays.  Cooler weather, holiday traditions, and sharing lots of food with family and friends, stirs up a desire in me to both reflect and anticipate. Reflect on where I’ve been, what I’ve been through, the people I’ve been with in the last twelve months and all they have taught me. Anticipation as a sense of eagerness, a curiosity about what comes next, what it might look like and how I would like it to be.

This year my anticipation is even more present as I am six months into recovery from major spinal surgery. Things are going remarkably well and new changes continue to surprise me. I am in a huge state of transition. It is during this time, when I feel like I can’t do much of anything on my own, I have found using my weekly calendar to organize myself helpful in an unexpected way. While planning my week I ask myself “What would my best morning, afternoon, evening include?” this allows my creativity to be in charge, not my to do list.

I have been home for a month and feel in the thick middle of a mucky mess of transitions. I am not where I was before the surgery, but I am not yet where I will be once I have “come into my own” with my new spine and we have acclimated to a new way of functioning. For now, I imagine I am learning to dance with a very awkward lead partner, who pulls in the absolute opposite direction I happen to be going at any given moment, to a tune with a completely different tempo than mine.  It’s exciting and enthralling! I’m learning how to dance, feeling my body do totally new and different things. I sweat now that I have proper circulation and my feet are no longer cold all the time. I have gained 20 pounds since surgery which is only slightly under 20% of my body weight. I love walking with crutches again, but lugging the extra weight around is like trying to heft a toddler up a curb every time I step onto the sidewalk.

Keeping perspective during this thick and messy phase is important and helps me be more kind to myself and more realistic about my expectations. This helps me get my feet on the ground in the mornings and guards me against the temptation to shut down in frustration.

As I mentioned earlier using my calendar to navigate this challenging time is helpful. One of my frustration busting skills is the PCT Perfect week, it is NOT a daily schedule OR a list of daily activities. I plan my days as I would like them to be. This frees me from the blinders of pain and more limitation than I am accustomed to. I have a 4×3 ft wall calendar at the end of my bed. One color for my caregiver’s schedule, one color for work, one for physical therapy and medical appointments, one color for friends and my favorite color (shades of purple) for Perfect Week ideas. A balance between necessity, responsibility, productivity, fun and adventure.

Perfect Week is a forward-thinking tool that can help everyone get through the good and the hard of each day in a way we can all feel good about when our heads hit the pillow at night.

Learn more about the person-centered tool Perfect Week.