Two months post open heart surgery, my journey to heal inspired has continued to unfold.
On January 8th, I awoke with three tubes in my chest, one out of my neck, one down my throat, a catheter and a feeling of terror. It’s been an uphill adventure since that dramatic moment, but I can honestly say I wouldn’t give up this experience for anything.
First off, I haven’t worn a bra in 58 days and that alone is just the ultimate freedom. The only travel I have done has been to get back to my happy place on February 2nd and to check out a medical marijuana dispensary on Tuesday. And for the first time (maybe ever) I have had the chance to be very quiet, very still and the opportunity to lean into my feelings.
It’s been an awakening, a transformation and it’s been an extraordinarily painful and beautiful process … but that’s what healing is. A process. Not one to hold onto these new found gifts to myself, I feel the need to share with you (8 weeks out!) the 8 ways I’ve healed inspired.
1. BREATHING, BOWELS + BATHING
Don’t take these gifts for granted. When any of these three things are uncomfortable, there is a shift in your perspective. I’ll never forget the tube down my throat when I awoke from surgery, the constipation and atomic gas that was inside of me after my chest was opened up and the first bathing experience I received after being in Brigham and Women’s Hospital for 8 nights. It also coincided with the first time I ever took a shower with another woman — an extraordinary nurse named Norma who gave me the most compassionate and life changing “cleansing”. The empathy she had for me while I sat there… all smiles and crying joyful tears as she washed my battered body brought me back to life… it was a divine moment in time I will cherish forever
2. MORNING RITUALS
Through my healing, I have found there is an art to the slow morning. Give yourself time to get up and get your day started. You run the day, or the day runs you. I keep my phone in the living room and refuse to look at it until I’ve fueled my body with a protein rich breakfast and a lovingly made coffee. (Add Moon Juice for a touch of inspiration!)
3. THE MAGIC OF PODCASTS
Listening is the new learning and when my eyes are tired and my body needs to just chill, I throw on podcasts to help me get outside of myself. If you need Wisdom? Go to Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations. Want some bio hacking inspiration? Try The Life Stylist with Luke Storey. In need of some provocative topics? Go to Sex With Emily. And if you want a local podcast that has Nantucket roots and national guests… Check out my girl Georgie Morley and the Chasing Joy Podcast. (much love to her for the first photo in this post as well!)
4. CHILL ON THE NETFLIX
When I first got out of surgery and needed to feel productive but couldn’t really walk or go anywhere, I dove head first into an empty pool of Netflix. So much so that I would look at finishing a SERIES (not a season) like I had truly accomplished something. But here’s the deal… DO IT WITH MODERATION or not at all. When an episode starts playing for you 15 seconds after you’ve barely digested the last one, you’re on a runaway train to being up to 3AM with Annalise Keating and having super f*cked up dreams about How To Get Away With Murder. (Maybe that last part was just me but don’t just mindlessly Netflix, especially when you’re healing and think all you have is time… YOU DON’T and you don’t need to waste all your time by centering your energy all on a screen)
5. YOUR PRESENCE IS MY PRESENT
Friends of all walks of life strolled back into my life after this surgery. It was the biggest gift to see all these familiar faces and talk about the old days… and yes, I was blessed with so many amazing gifts! (I have enough sheet face masks for the entire Figawi population if any one wants to switch up a Wharf night for a wellness one.) But seriously, when someone is healing, the best thing you can do for them is simply to show up (NOTE: with fair warning and the invite) Getting out of our heads is the greatest pleasure after all you do is think about your pain level on a scale of 1 to 10. The number one healing gift is that of the human connection.
6. THE ART OF THE BATH
You may hear people talk about taking a “quick shower” but you never hear about a “fast bath” — this is another present to people healing. Sitting and soaking in a tub (with a lavender bath salt made especially for you by your dear friend Erin Lee Yoga) while reading a book and relishing the downtime is THE BEST FEELING. For all those healing who can savor a soak… I recommend doing it an hour before bed– you’ll sleep better too! PS… Rosehip Seed Oil is a great gift for anyone with a scar… thank you Jeannie Vincent for mine! I put it on my scar twice a day and it’s another routine that makes me feel like I’m taking care of this incredible scar that did so much for the bettering of my health!
7. MEDICAL MARIJUANA
This will be a bigger conversation that will become part of in my future, but as many of us know first hand, the addiction to pain killers is a very real and scary one. And having that knowledge before I went under the knife, I knew I didn’t want to be on any narcotics any longer than I had to be. On my first night home, my parents picked up my Oxycodone prescription and I had but one pill before I decided I had to stop. See if you have heart surgery, your chest bone will be sawed open, and after my heart valve and aortic root were repaired, my amazing doctors put wire to connect the bones back and then glued the skin together on top. Oxys made me nauseous and if you can imagine dry heaving with a broken chest bone, well that’s what hell these drugs were making me go through. Thanks to a friend, I discovered medical marijuana and not only did it gain my appetite back, (on Oxys I was losing a lot of weight and had zero interest of eating ) but it also helped me sleep better at night and helped me get comfortable. Eating and sleeping are truly the top healing attributes and medical marijuana helped me continue to heal inspired. On Tuesday, thanks to Douglas Leighton, I got to check out Bask Fairhaven in Fairhaven. For those with a medial marijuana card and in need of some healing powers of this powerful and majestic plant, I definitely recommend you go to this medical marijuana dispensary.
8. And Finally…
(and if you are still reading this… damn… THANK YOU!) We need to change the way we talk to people about healing. There is no such thing as a true “Speedy Recovery”… The phrase “Get Well Soon” has very little meaning… and “Feel Better Fast” when it comes to surgery is literally impossible. So I say this — Next time you are watching someone heal, or you are in a place of healing yourself — take all the TIME you need to recover. Don’t just “Get Well Soon”… find moments to figure out what “WELL” means to you. And finally, I hope that you don’t just Feel Better… I hope that you give yourself all the support and love you need to HEAL BETTER.
Much love and gratitude to you for following along, for all the incredible support and for all the encouragement on this crazy journey.