I’m Jewish, so there’s a lot of it for a variety of reasons – I give it and I get it. Lately, I’ve been feeling a lot of it.
Like right this minute, for instance: it is 1:30pm, I am still in my pajamas, and I am still in bed. I got up at 7am, had breakfast with my son and husband, and got back in bed after they’d left for the day, at around 8. I just felt really tired, like I hadn’t slept at all last night. I then slept until 11:30. I got up, grabbed some yogurt, and brought it back into bed with me. And here I’ve been. I’ve been doing a bit of work here and there on my laptop. Mostly I’ve been snuggling with my cat and browsing Facebook. Bon Jovi is going to be on Katie Couric’s show, which is on at 3. I think I may stay right here and watch it. And I might even take a nap before it starts!
But I feel guilty. My husband is working a nine-hour day at an annoying job. My dad will leave work early to pick up my son at school and bring him home because I still can’t lift him. And what will I have done all day – nothing, diddly squat. I feel like everyone is going out of their way and doing extra, while I just watch.
Yes, I tidy up the house. Yes, I do the laundry and the cooking. But that doesn’t seem like a whole lot when it takes less than an hour a day. I’m working on writing two books, but it also doesn’t seem like “work” when I do it from bed (I could do it from my home office, five steps outside of the bedroom, but I’m just too comfy here).
I’ve never been particularly good at cutting myself slack. It’s especially hard when I read stories of people who’ve had this same surgery and have gone back to work after a month. My friend MJ had a mastectomy and went back to work three days later! So it doesn’t even really help to remind myself that I’ve been through a lot: fourteen hours of anesthesia, weeks of narcotic pain medication, 15 pounds of flesh removed, my arteries and blood vessels messed with, lots and lots of wound care. People have been through this and more, and they’ve been much more active earlier.
Yesterday, I spent the whole day at work. I drove there at 7 and was at my desk by 8:15. I sat in on a class, had two meetings, lunched with a friend, and then a two-hour workshop. I was yawning during the workshop, but in my defense, it was really boring. The drive home was fine. And I wasn’t even too exhausted when I got home.
I think the problem is that I stay home most days. I only have another 10 days before I return to work, so I feel like I should use them to my advantage. Part of me says that advantage would be getting out of the house, going to a coffee shop, and doing some serious work. Another part of me says that advantage is resting and relaxing before the craziness begins.
I don’t know where I’m going with this anymore. I guess I feel most guilty that I’m on a paid medical leave, and I probably could have gone back to work last week. It would have been sort of silly to go back for two weeks before spring break, but I could have done it – it would have saved my department some money, and I’d be feeling better about myself. I feel like I have to defend why I’m not at work right now. There’s no reason I can’t be. I feel guilty that my husband and parents are still doing most of the caregiving for my son, when I think I’m perfectly capable of doing so. It drives me nuts that I can’t pick him up, give him a bath, put him in his crib, when I feel perfectly able to do so. My responsibilities for him have been relegated to watching Sesame Street and making his lunches.
I guess there’s an emotional side to all of this that goes beyond the frustration of being in pain. I’m really not in pain anymore. But I still feel sad about how this has limited me, even if it’s only for another ten days.