The Importance of Listening to Your Body

February 4, 2016



I had surgery in November to remove tumors from my right wrist, my right hip, and the bottom of my left foot. I usually combine surgeries because it’s difficult to get appointments with my specialist. He’s a busy guy, and he deals with a lot of sarcoma patients. I always feel like if I combine my surgeries into one, I’ll save both his time and mine. Multiple surgery sites are just something I’ve always done, ever since my first surgery. The first specialist I ever had thought it’d make more sense than having me come in every few months to remove something. Get them done all at once, as many as possible, and then the time between surgeries will be longer.


Sure, recovery is usually intense and terrible because I can’t exactly baby one side when the other side is also in need of babying, and finding a sleep position that is comfortable is almost a joke, but the weeks of recovery are the same. Six weeks before I can sort of walk again and regain the majority of my independence. Maybe after the initial six weeks, it’ll be a few weeks more before I truly feel more like myself. But once I’ve recovered, I’ve recovered. I don’t have to think about needing another surgery for years.


I won’t lie; I was worried about this particular surgery. The tumor they were removing from my wrist was between the two long bones, and I was terrified that I wouldn’t regain my strength or mobility in my wrist. I knew I couldn’t leave it though; the tumor would catch on those bones and the tendons and cause me immense pain. Writing was becoming increasingly difficult, and I knew I had to try something. Luckily, my physiotherapist says I’m expected to make a full recovery – or at least, a full recovery back to my original mobility and strength, which wasn’t very great to begin with but I’ll take it. At least I don’t have that terrible snapping and popping feeling each time I move my wrist or try to pick something up.


It wasn’t just the wrist that I worried about: I wasn’t excited about having my foot operated on either. I’d heard from the masses that foot surgery sucks. The closest thing to foot surgery I had ever had, prior to this one of course, was the heel operation of 2014. Yes, you read that right – I had a tumor removed from my heel. It was unpleasant, and at the time I thought it was the worst surgery to date. Man, it is unpleasant having your heel done. The heel bone protests greatly when a tumor is shaved from it – but that was nothing compared to my foot. Maybe it’s because they went in on the side of my heel, and when they operated on my foot they had no choice but to slice me from the bottom. 


My wrist was useless for weeks, but I also couldn’t walk for weeks without intense pain. I needed an air cast, and even that didn’t soothe the agony of stitches on the bottom of your foot, right beneath the toes, in the middle. Any time someone so much as gently tapped my toes, the agony made me see stars. Walking definitely wasn’t a picnic, but I held fast to the knowledge that once those stitches were removed…I’d feel better. When they removed the stitches, they told me that I could start transitioning from the boot. They also told me I could shower. Naturally, the first thing I did when we got home was have a shower. Then I cleaned my kitchen, because I needed to. I also ditched the cane and put all my weight on it, because I wanted to clean up the disaster that was my house and be independent. I was “over” recovering from surgery. I was “over” having to have help for the simplest of tasks. By golly, I was going to do it my damn self. But…by the time bed time rolled around, the scar on my foot had split open, and it was painful. Really, really painful.


My greatest mistake was not listening to my body. I should have given myself another week of nursing my foot. I shouldn’t have ignored the shooting pains from that particular surgical site. I set myself back weeks in heeling, all because I was too stubborn to listen.


I know my body more than any doctor, more than anybody around me – just like you know your body more than anybody around you. We are the advocates for ourselves and it’s important to listen to all the signs, to know your body and know what it can handle and to know when to quit. If you ignore those signs, you’re not advocating for yourself the way you should, and unfortunately…only you will pay for that mistake. It can be a challenge, I know, especially when you feel like you’ve “taken up enough of your family member’s time and help”, but they’ll be no better off when they have to continue helping you for several more weeks because you ignored the signs your body desperately fired out.


My advice: don’t ignore the signs. Listen to your body, always. Your body knows best. If you focus on what it’s saying, you can save yourself a lot of hurt and pain.

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