Three weeks into recovery from my second ACDF surgery and I am adapting to bed rest much better this time around. As you can see, I’ve created a nice little nest complete with fluffy blankets, fragrant candle, and fuzzy puppy. It feels just as good as it looks and I am incredibly grateful for these simple luxuries as they have allowed me to follow post-op instructions perfectly: to remain as comfortable as possible.
Not sure where I heard the phrase, “Comfort starts at home.” And nothing is truer- covid lockdown certainly taught us that! Already well trained in staying put plus having gone through this same ACDF recovery two years ago, I am a pro at corralling creature comforts (that also happen include an actual creature named Timber- isn’t he the cutest?!).
Yet comfort goes well beyond the things we can see and touch. Comfort is also found in thoughts, emotions, and the people we surround ourselves with. If we can agree that comfort starts at home, then we can further agree that the concept of “home” stems way beyond four walls and a door- home is also where our body meets our brain. Home is the soul, the place where your true spirit lives.
All that a body and mind seek is comfort: free from pain, healthy, strong, hydrated, well-rested, and loved. Ease of self, through and through is much easier said than done. It is a privilege to attain true comfort and a lot of people do not live an existence that allows for that, including me. Being comfortable in the uncomfortable, rather, seems to be life’s ultimate goal.
A few months ago, I spent time with some former drinking buddies and walked away feeling confused and disappointed yet strangely liberated. When I gave up alcohol, these friendships shifted immediately. Removing the through line of the thing that brought us together in the first place left behind a vast silence- while they never discouraged me from quitting drinking, they haven’t encouraged me either. They just went silent.
It took me a while to share Sober Laura with these friends. There were a couple I felt particularly nervous to reveal Sober Laura to as I knew they would make my choice about them- and I was right. Upon telling one former drinking buddy, she said, “Yeah, I always knew you had a problem. Not me though. I’ve never had a problem with alcohol.”
This person I partied and drank with for over 20 years; yet, I am the one with the “problem”. Neat!
The conversation turned into an argument. I pointed out- very loudly- that there had not been one get together in the past two decades of knowing each other where alcohol was not the main focus. Further, to label me as someone with a “problem” with no blame placed on the addictive substance itself is downright insulting. In the end, we hugged it out, relayed hollow let’s-get-together-again-soon platitudes, and I left knowing full well that the friendship was over.
I felt true sadness on one hand but, on the other, complete relief.
One week ago, I underwent a second ACDF spine surgery and have been home recovering since. It’s been real. This time around has not been like the first surgery, in fact, it has been harder. Luckily, I have developed the tools to handle this situation a lot better and while I am not ready to write a lengthy essay surrounding philosophies of healing and self-care, I am ready to share some of the little things… too often slivers of happiness are found in the tiniest of treasures.
Pajamas. The comfier, the better and with 6 weeks of recovery looming, that’s a lot of PJs! PJs happen to be my favorite clothing item, I have often planned get togethers around the wearing of PJs because comfort must be celebrated. I have tried a lot all of the major brands, at all different price points but right now, I am living in my Land’s End flannel bottoms and Target workout top. Other favorite bottoms that help to fully embrace the comfort of bed rest include all the Athleta joggers and once the weather warms up, Old Navy cotton bottoms.
Deliciousness. To recover well, you gotta eat well. My surgeon has repeated that my nutrition must be top notch as I heal in order to give the bones what they need and to just feel good. Currently, I am on a liquid diet (as my surgery was through the neck and swallowing is painful) so drinking super healthy things for 3 meals a day is hard but I did my research the first time around and ordered up a ton of bone broth and soup from Kettle and Fire and smoothies, nut milks, and green juices from Pressed Juicery.
More deliciousness. All that healthy stuff is well and good and exactly what my body needs but my soul craves some indulgence too- especially when I am in pain and feeling sorry for myself. It’s all a part of recovery and liquid diets allow for lots of fun things like milkshakes, ice cream, and pudding. Yuuuum. Hubby brought home a box of Entenmann’s “Soft’ees” Doughnuts and those, exactly as described, were super soft and super good!
In one week I will undergo a second spine surgery. Through the past several months, I have done everything possible to manage the pain to some avail sometimes. When I was really in it, I was in complete and total misery. All seemed much better as of late, but not according to my spine surgeon.
I was anticipating a potential surgery many months down the road, but was told that, in fact, it is scheduled for February 13th- down came an avalanche of worry, guilt, fear, sadness and anxiety.
Worry and guilt about leaving my husband without help as I recover for 6-8 weeks. Worried about losing my brand new job, anxiety about telling my new boss, and major guilt for pulling this on her just 2 weeks after I began work. Guilt for letting the senior center down where I was about to start teaching yoga. Sadness that my yoga momentum is coming to an abrupt halt and that my fitness will go right back to zero. And, above all, fear and anxiety about the surgery itself.
All the things I have been practicing about mindfulness, kindness, and compassion flew right out the window the moment the spine department said, “February 13th.” You can meditate your face off, practice yoga for hours every day, and read every single philosophy book known to mankind but we are still going to be faced with situations that are uncomfortable, unpleasant, and unavoidable- the truest tests of our character.
Last week, I celebrated 365 days since I quit drinking- one entire year of being alcohol free! Yay me! I also started my new job that same day of my first “soberthday” so very distracted with new yoga job, I made little fanfare the actual day of. Got a cake. Lit a candle. Applauded myself. Ate said cake. It was glorious.
It is important to note I did not eat the entire cake, I cut it into 4 pieces and delivered a slice to each family member. When I told them what the cake was for they responded, “Aw, that’s awesome! Good job!” and went right back to doing what their previously cake-less selves were doing. And all that was perfectly okay with me.
This one year of not drinking, in the grand scheme of things, is truly no big deal to anyone but me and that’s just the way I like it. I am happy that this date was just that, a date, and only important insofar that I crossed a calendar finish line that means… nothing. I did it and I will keep on doing it and that one year mark was a typical day-in-the-life, only made special with a slice of chocolate cake and not some random date on the calendar.
Just as it should be. My sobriety is now the norm and it feels fantastic.
“Little by little,” an acorn said, As it slowly sank in its mossy bed, “I am improving every day, Hidden deep in the earth away.”
Little by little, each day it grew; Little by little, it sipped the dew; Downward it sent out a thread-like root; Up in the air sprung a tiny shoot.
Day after day, and year after year, Little by little the leaves appear; And the slender branches spread far and wide, Till the mighty oak is the forest’s pride.
“Little by little,” said a thoughtful child, “Moment by moment, I’ll well employ, And still this rule in my mind shall dwell: Whatever I do, I will do it well. “Little by little, I’ll learn to know The treasured wisdom of long ago; And one of these days, perhaps, we’ll see That the world will be the better for me”.
I am elated to state: I FINALLY GOT A JOB!!! Not in the industry I spent the past 30 years in, but in the industry I began last April when I started the Yoga Teacher Training certification path. I am now the proud Studio Manager at a bustling, pedigreed, super awesome yoga studio here in Oakland AND I accepted a role teaching gentle yoga to seniors! Everything is coming up yoga!
Can you believe it?! I am so happy I could cry. Actually, I have cried a few times, this is such an incredible turn of events I cannot stop smiling, even through these joyful tears!
The past 6 months I have gone on umpteen interviews for food/beverage/hospitality senior management roles and along the way, was offered a handful of jobs- declined 5, accepted 3- but then something always happened right after I said yes to a role, never in my favor. Last month, I was offered a Catering Manager position at a location I absolutely loved, I accepted enthusiastically, my new boss said, “Welcome to the team!” and then I heard nothing back. Nothing. It’s been 5 weeks and there has still been zero return to my phone calls, zero response to my follow-up emails. I could relay more of my horror hiring stories but I won’t waste our time, on to better things…
And guess what? Now I am done with that industry! Shove it, Hospitality! I gave you three decades of dedication, had some fun along the way, produced so many amazing events, ate lots of incredible food, met some great people, and learned an unbelievableamount. I gave hours upon hours, worked myself to the bone, put up with a lot of challenging people and situations, and was treated horribly all to earn a pay check.
But now I am leading with my heart and it feels oh so good to finally be rewarded.
WordPress hosts a Bloganuary challenge wherein they email a daily prompt and you’re supposed to write, as the title implies, daily for the entirety of January. As you can see, it is January 11th and this is my first (last?) Bloganuary post.
I am not a fan of these one-month long challenges. I like the idea of them, but for me it’s too much pressure. I am not a once-a-day blogger nor do I aim to be. I also do not do yoga once a day every day or drink a green juice once a day every day nor any other of the other once a day every day challenges that are out there other than eat, sleep, breathe, and be. That alone is a daily challenge in and of itself.
Then why do I sign up for these things, you may be asking and that’s a legit question- I sign up because I enjoy the inspiration! I know myself well enough to know that I cannot commit to 31 days straight of writing/ yoga/ juicing yet I enjoy the daily prompts and the motivation to create they provide.
Of the eleven prompts WordPress has sent thus far, I have kept four. Some of the prompts just don’t do it for me, a couple I have already written enough about, and those few I found compelling enough to save because they get my mind churning even if I choose not to put those thoughts to paper.
Today was the first morning in 63 long days I woke up without pain. Wow. I’ve been down this pain path many, many times before; I knew yesterday’s epidural would provide immediate relief but I had forgotten just how much constant pain altered my demeanor. I feel like myself again. I feel weightless. I feel free. (Cue the applause!)
Nevertheless, this is a condition I must continue to manage, a second spine surgery is likely. When faced with chronic pain, I will do anything for relief- I will take the slew of prescriptions that turn me into an extra from the Walking Dead, I will take a big ass needle shoved into my spinal column, and yes I will take another major surgery. Anything that promises even a sliver of relief from 24/7 pain, I’ll take- I think you would too.
Relief comes in many forms, just as many as there are types of pain. Aching, excruciating, shooting, stabbing, tortuous, heavy, harrowing, burning. Whatever the flavor, be it physical or emotional, finding relief therein has been the most challenging things I continue to combat all these 48 years of life. Currently, it is physical pain: the pain I can acknowledge with a simple, “It hurts here.” That emotional pain, however, isn’t nearly as easy to pinpoint.
It just occurred to me that being a Pain Expert isn’t something one aspires to be! What a bummer/ blessing that I can say with 100% certainty that when it comes to pain- physical as well as emotional- I am an authority on the topic. “Write what you know”, as the cliché goes… pain is unfortunately exactly what I know.