Four weeks ago I fell off my bike while being on holiday. Where normal people would be in pain for a few days and have some bruising, I am not normal and have been bedbound for the last four weeks. I have a pain disorder so my body responds differently to impacts like falling. So instead of enjoying my holiday I laid in bed and went home a couple of days early.
Because of the painkillers I was put on, I was very sleepy and drowsy for the first couple of weeks so I couldn’t really do anything. I couldn’t read because I couldn’t lift a book or focus on what I was reading, I couldn’t watch movies or tv shows because I kept falling asleep or I forgot what I had just seen. I could only lay flat on my back so I couldn’t use my planner or journal. So I just watched a lot of YouTube video playlists because it didn’t matter if I missed a few.
It is very easy to get depressed when you are stuck in bed and unable to do anything. But it has always been my motto that no one ever got any better from crying all day. Not saying that you are not allowed to cry or that everyone has to feel this way, but I always try and stay positive. And yes, I have cried, yelled and gotten very upset. But my main focus is staying positive and look at the small things. So I am going to share a few things I learned along the way.
- Don’t be stubborn. I am a very stubborn person and have a hard time accepting help from others. But when you are stuck in a bed and unable to do anything you have to ask for help. So I have a friend who walks my dogs, makes me coffee sometimes, sits at my house if I am expecting a package and waits until it gets there and goes to buy me certain things I need. I have a friend who takes me to doctor’s appointments when my boyfriend can’t take me and have several friends and family members who cook us dinner so my boyfriend get’s a little time for himself while looking after me. Because it is important for the person who looks after you to have some free time as well. Otherwise that person will end up in bed as well!
Try and get things that will make life easier. I rented a wheelchair and toilet seat raiser. I borrowed a walker from a friend and purchased a bed table so I could use my planner and journal again. This really made things easier and made my world a little bigger.
- Make a list of things you want to do when you get out of bed. This list really motivates me in my recovery. It includes small things like “go on a walk with the dogs” and “cook a meal” but also big things like go on a day trip with my boyfriend (we had to cancel our summer holiday due to this but I hope we can go on a day trip eventually). The list gets longer every day and it will probably take me a really long time to accomplish it all but I love looking at it.
- Appreciate the tiny steps forward! This is really important as your recovery might take a long time and seem slow. But if you really look at it, these tiny steps are so important. Last week I sat in my wheelchair for 30 minutes while my friend Kirsten pushed me and walked my dogs. It was my first time outside in a while and it was amazing. It really hurt and I was exhausted afterwards but I did it, and I could not have done that a week before. I have also started walking with my walker around the parking lot in front of my house. It is a 30-metre walk which seems short but to me, it is a marathon and I have to rest a couple of hours after doing it. But I am persevering and try to add laps every couple of days. These small steps will add up and help me get back to normal.
- Treat yourself! It sucks being in bed so it doesn’t hurt to treat yourself a little bit. Buy yourself some nice new pyjamas or a nice shower gel. Try not to eat too many treats as you are not burning a lot of calories while you are stuck in bed. Offcourse you can eat some chocolate every now and then but portion control is important. You don’t want to gain too much weight during your bed rest.
- Ask friends to come over. Please make sure you do limit these stays because they are exhausting and might cause extra pain but it is nice to have some social interaction. I try and limit visits to 30-60 minutes.
- Look after yourself! Even though everything you do takes up a lot of energy and will hurt I feel like it is important to keep looking after yourself. Eat good foods, take daily showers, change your pyjamas and bedding often, brush your teeth and comb your hair. These things are normal things when you are healthy but it is easy to want to skip when in pain. You will need help doing these things and it will take up energy but it will also make you feel human. Which is important.
- When you are in a relationship, this can really take a toll on your partner. My boyfriend works full time and has to look after me before and after work. He makes me lunch, prepares drinks for the entire day and feeds the dogs before work. He then leaves for work at seven in the morning and comes back at half past five. He then has to make me dinner, help me undress, shower and dress. He has to clean the house, walk the dogs, do groceries and help me with other things I need. Sometimes I feel like he only is my caretaker and not my boyfriend. Those are the times when I have to turn that around and do something to make us feel part of a relationship. I try and take away some of his duties, spend some quality time with him or surprise him with a small gift.
I am very motivated to get back to normal and be able to live my life again. By noting down my small steps it all seems much more manageable! I will conquer this!
If you are bedbound, stay strong and a big virtual hug for you, because actual hugs might hurt 😉