1) Get comfortable. When I shattered my shoulder in the cycling accident, I had to wait 4 days for surgery. During that time it was important to be as comfortable as possible. I found being propped up the most tolerable. However it made it difficult to sleep. If you are injured be prepared for some long nights. Have everything you need in reach and have something like a book or video to occupy yourself just in case you find yourself up in the wee hours of the morning.
Recovery is the same. It will take some time to adjust to new sleeping positions, new sitting positions. Your body will immobilize certain muscles to protect itself and so you will find you need to make changes to accommodate. For example, I couldn’t get in or out of my own bed. It hurt too much so I ended up having to order a hospital bed which could get me to an upright position. In fact for the first two weeks after surgery I slept with the bed half propped up and had to tape a piece of cardboard to a window to keep a street light from shining in my face. It seemed silly but it was what was needed.
2) Learn to love drugs. Some of the drugs you will be given are painkillers, take them, they are your friends. Don’t try to be heroic, no one wants to watch you suffer. Pain affects your mood and your mood will affect your recovery. Not only that but it will make you difficult to be around. Zuimei pointed out several times that when I would wake up I was not a very nice person, he understood the pain was enough to put me in a foul mood, but that didn’t make me easier to be around.
Not only that but the pain can actually do you harm and lengthen your recovery. By taking the painkillers you can allow your body to relax and work on the healing process. Yes, it is possible to get addicted to painkillers but unlikely if you take them for a few weeks and only take them when needed. For example, I take them to help me sleep but that’s about it. During the day I use an icepack to help numb the pain after exercises. The drugs are not essential but they make healing easier. Think of them as a tool and use them accordingly.
3) Accept help. This one is tough, especially for anyone who likes their independence and one I think most men have difficulty with. There will be things you cannot do yourself, things you used to do easily. It is okay to allow others to help, but it’s fucking hard to do. Swallow your pride and get over it.
I had to have help bathing for two weeks. There no more vulnerable position to be in, then to be standing naked in a bathtub having someone wash you like a child. In fact I had a breakdown the first time and started sobbing. I am sure it was uncomfortable for Zuimei but it was devastating for me. Clearly I had fucked up badly to be in the position where my husband needed to wash my ass. I failed at being able to take care of myself.
Then my sister pointed out the best part about gifts is the giving, not the receiving. When you allow others to help you, they get to give you the gift of their assistance. They may not do things the way you would, but accept the help with grace.
4) Slow down. You cannot rush recovery. I started trying to do things on my own because I wanted that independence back. But you cannot rush recovery. By all means, do the exercises your physiotherapist gives you, but don’t try to do too much more than that. You will only end up hurting yourself and that will set your recovery back.
I was trying to do my laundry and lost my balance slamming my shoulder against the wall. It hurt like a mofo, to which I took some painkillers and had to ice it again. I didn’t do any permanent damage but it did put me out of commission for the rest of the day. Take your recovery seriously, push through the pain when you must and avoid it when you can.
I am sure there are other things but these four are top of mind.