Once again, as I did nearly a year ago, I find myself with my right leg wrapped in a bandage from thigh to foot and repeating an alternating series of exercising and icing. On Friday, June 18th, my trusty orthopedic surgeon carefully scraped scar tissue away from my shiny new ACL (well, my repurposed quadriceps tendon, but new in its job as ACL).
Although I’ve been able to get back to many normal activities since last July’s ACL surgery, this scar tissue has impeded my knee from reaching full extension or flexion. It feels stiff whenever I walk downstairs. I still can’t do a full child’s pose in yoga.
My doctor and I had both been a bit Pollyannaish about this snag in my recovery–I hadn’t reached full extension or flexion within the typical post-op window, but we were certain it would work itself out with rehab and a few devices I purchased (no thanks to my insurance company) to use at home. We wanted to avoid another invasive surgery.
After several months of very hard work in rehab and at home, my knee still wouldn’t budge toward those last few degrees on its own, so we decided to do a quick arthroscopic procedure and get this crap over with so I can have my full range of motion back…finally.
Before this surgery I was fretting to my sister-in-law that the timing was wrong due to other summer plans, and the cost of doing it at a hospital was intimidating even though I had my last surgery at the hospital, and other than a few thousand on my part, was completely covered by insurance. Maybe I should have delayed it and insisted that it be performed somewhere else that might cost less.
She responded with this comforting statement:
“It will allow you to maximize your life, and that may be more worth it than waiting.”
I’ll say it again: Maximize. Your. Life.
Recovering perfectionist that I am, I sometimes tend to do things the hard way, even when it’s unnecessary. I hang onto ideals, hopes, people, and things with such control that it gives me tunnel vision. I don’t see alternatives or other opportunities for change and hope a deus ex machina will save me. I clench tightly, even when that person, thing, or idea no longer serves me.
My doctor and I were going about recovery the hard way, insisting that this long-lasting problem could be overcome with hard work. I’ve gained muscle mass and mobility, but I was never going to move on without letting something go. The scar tissue was no longer serving me. We had to cut out the aggravation at the source.
A desire to re-prioritize, de-clutter, and re-focus has been haunting me for several months.
I wanted to clean out my home, my mind, and my life. My workplace has decided (for now) that remote workers will return to the office “100%” on September 7th. I decided to make my home, my sanctuary, as pleasant as possible for the remainder of my summer at home and maintain it as something nice to return to after long days at the work office. Meanwhile, I’ve been doing a lot of mental unraveling in therapy as I recover from a long-standing and deep-seated eating disorder.
I used Marie Kondo’s method to do a massive cleanout of my home in 2019 and was very pleased with the outcome. A week or two before my impromptu second surgery, I did it again on a smaller scale.
Cleaning out my closet had a few more benefits than making my living space tidier. Even though I will be returning to a corporate setting (for now anyway), somewhere along the way I stopped caring so much about looking absolutely perfect and poised. Getting my work wardrobe to a manageable size helped me make peace with something I don’t agree with and don’t want to do.
It also helped me face my eating disorder head-on: several items didn’t fit me anymore, and rather than feeling bad about myself, I said goodbye to the clothes and put them in a bag. I was proud of myself for staying detached as I tried everything on and decided what stayed and what went. I did the process quickly, in about two hours (given the amount of clothes, that was good time), and immediately went to a yoga class to give my body and mind some peace and healing. Those clothes and the image I had of myself were no longer serving me.
I’ve realized the biggest thing to de-clutter is my mind.
For months I’ve been looking for an escape and just end up feeling more depressed and stuck. A clean home and a clean knee will only get me so far. Thankfully I have good therapists helping me and a dedication to heal my mind as strong as is the one to heal my knee. I’ve done this kind of mental work before, and sometimes I have to revisit it during tough times.
There isn’t room for my eating disorder in my life anymore, just like there wasn’t room in my knee for scar tissue. There’s no room in my life to fake that I’m happy at work all the time or that I’m perfect at everything I do. There’s no room for anxiety, obsession, or other damaging mental habits.
There’s no room to be inauthentic anymore. All the lies I’ve been living behind do not “spark joy,” as Kondo would say. There may be other things we all need to let go of as we venture out into this post-pandemic world: ideas, beliefs, relationships, jobs, goals. That’s up to each individual.
Letting go of what no longer serves you allows you to maximize your life.