One of my super powers is that I have a high tolerance to pain. I delivered three, seven-pound babies without any medication, and I was reminded of this handy super power during the first surgery.
I breezed through it without so much as a whimper, so I was expecting the same this time.
And it was. But because I also felt "fine" just hours after surgery, I assumed I was cured and began to overdo my activity.
I went shopping. I baked and cooked. I went out to eat.
On day three post-op, my incision was still intact and pain-free, but my throat started feeling raw and scratchy. Assuming it was from being intubated while on the operating table, I ignored the symptoms that suggested a cold was settling in.
I normally don't get sick, not even a sniffle, so I am not used to slowing down when my body needs to rest. But within hours, my cough singed the lining of my throat and pulled at my stitches. I felt more tired than I had after surgery just a few days before.
No matter how quickly I thought I'd recovered from being cut open, it was obvious that my body was trying to get my attention by saddling me with a cold. I may not have felt post-surgical pain, but my body needed rest and comfort in order to heal.
And I was failing to listen.
I had to practice radical self-care if I had any hope of healing completely.
So I did. I binge-watched ten episodes of This Is Us, and marathoned through three movies in a row. I stayed in my jammies for two solid days. I napped on the couch, midday. I declined offers from friends for coffee. And I stayed home from work longer than I'd intended to.
And bit by tiny bit, I started feeling better. My body was given a chance to heal because I chose to acquiese and let it take over.
Because, as I have learned countless times over many years, it always knows best.
My throat stopped burning, my cough receded, and my stitches were no longer getting tugged out of place. I even returned to work in time for our Christmas party!
Perhaps if I hadn't gotten a cold, I wouldn't have slowed down. Perhaps I wouldn't have healed properly. Perhaps I would've missed more work, or heaven forbid--my work party!
But my body is wiser than I am, and it knew I was not going to slow down because I wasn't feeling any pain. So in its wise ways, it slammed me with a four-day cold that put me in my place--on the couch with movies and plenty of rest.
It did not care that Christmas was fast-approaching, or that I wanted to get shit done.
It only cared that I heal. Because my body, in all of its infinite protection, loves me.
And our bodies are always pushing us toward healing.
When have you needed to practice radical self-care, but kept on going, instead? Did your body rebel anyway?
As the holidays come to a close, it's important that we don't overwhelm ourselves and burn ourselves out; we must slow down, say 'no' when we're taking on too many obligations, and we must practice radical self-care.
Especially if it feels foreign. Or like wasted time. Or a bother.
It's when we listen to the wisdom of our bodies that miracles are allowed to happen.