I had spinal fusion surgery this June. The recovery is long and often very boring. I have always been a very active person who enjoys having a packed schedule. As I was recovering (and still am) I often felt very unproductive, like I was wasting time lying around. Over time I discovered some things I could do while recovering that made me feel useful. Here is a list of what helped the time pass by.
1. Set Goals/Plan Your Day
This seems pretty simple but it was a huge part of what kept me sane and made me feel like even though it was slow, I was recovering. Every day I would make a plan of what I was going to accomplish that day. It felt so gratifying checking things off my list; like walk to Starbucks or to sit for 5 minutes.
One thing that is important to keep in mind when making these goals and lists is to not get mad at yourself if you can’t accomplish something on your list so soon. Recovery is unpredictable and things don’t always fall into place when you want them to, and that’s ok.
2. Take Up a New Hobby (example: make friendship bracelets)
Before going into surgery I discovered how addicting making friendship bracelets is, but I never had the time to make them. I kept a pinterest board of different designs I wanted to learn to make post op. This gave me a new thing to learn to do every day and it made me feel productive.
3. Connect With Others Who Are Also Recovering
This can be hard to do in person (I was very lucky to meet up with another teenager who had just had a spinal fusion) but with social media it is very easy to chat with people going through the same thing. Having conversations about the struggles of recovery and checking up on each other really helps you feel less alone.
4. Watch TV In A Different Language
I know, this sounds weird, but with subtitles, this is a great way to pick up on some of the language. I already speak Spanish but I’m starting to lose it. I watched two whole telenovelas this summer and even though it was just watching TV, it made me feel productive because I was I was picking up on the language.
Write anything! Keep a journal about your recovery. Or try writing that novel you always wanted to write but never had the time. (Or Blog!)
6. Order-In Food Tour of Your Town/City
Even though you might not be able to go out to eat you can do an order food tour of your town/city. Order from all the pizza places in town and see which one is truly the best!
7. Review Things
This sounds weird but leave a review for your favorite restaurant, book or a particularly good doctor. Or leave that bad review that you have been wanting to write forever. It’s a way to help out someone and gives you something to do.
8. Start A Collection/Obsess Over Something
Finding a niche little thing to obsess over is always fun. This summer I got really into alpaca- I know weird. Looking at alpaca videos and getting alpaca teddy bears and notebooks helped bring some joy into my recovery.
9. Help Plan Someone Else's Vacation
Do you know a place really well? I am obsessed with Disney World, so I help plan others Disney vacations. Despite not going on the trip it was so much fun planning it out and It really made me feel productive and helpful.
10. Make Playlists
I really enjoyed making tons of super weird playlists for everything from break-up playlists to Disney ride playlists. It’s super fun and gets useful in the future.
For more from Isabel, follow on Instagram: @isabelmavrides