I recently had surgery to take out my wisdom teeth. With all their wisdom they had decided to grow embedded in the jawbone and shaped like a hook so the surgery was not exactly straightforward and it required the hands of two wonderful dental surgeons and a nurse, plus my cooperation since I was under local anesthesia hearing and seeing everything. While the surgery itself wasn’t exactly painful since half of my face was numb, the 30 minutes between the anesthesia wearing off and the painkillers kicking in were truly agonizing. Yes, I know it was only 30 min, but it was 30 min of pain so intense that my entire head was throbbing and I felt like I was going to throw up any minute.
For those of you who know me, you know that I’m a very active person in my daily life, which is why I didn’t find it weird at all to drive home while still under local anesthesia or jump on a long haul flight about 10 hours after the surgery. I figured what could go wrong. Fortunately nothing went wrong, but it was an incredibly painful experience. Between the pain from the swelling and the cabin pressure on the plane, I looked like a sad chipmunk who just wanted to be put out of its misery. I was taking painkillers, two types of antibiotics and had a permanent ice pack that kept getting refreshed by the flight staff (thank you 🙂 ), but really nothing could actually make the flight even remotely pleasant. After I made it through the flight, still in chipmunk mode, I of course wanted to return to my daily activities: working out every day, hiking on weekends, doing fun active things with friends. My jaw however had a different opinion as every time I would try to work out or be active in any way, even lie down without propping my head up on quite a few pillows, the throbbing pain would come back.
I was frustrated and sort of annoyed that it was taking so long for the swelling to go down and my jaw to heal. So frustrated that I didn’t even realize how lucky I was that I was able to eat soft foods right away and didn’t have to deal with eating clear soup for a whole week or being in constant pain. While I was very patient during the surgery and very responsive to anything the doctor would do or ask, I had no patience for the healing part. I wanted to be back to my old activities the same day instead of acknowledging that a part of my body had just experienced something traumatic and needed time to heal.
A week later I was back to my old self and was already starting to forget about the pain and the challenges, but the whole event got me thinking about all the times we don’t give ourselves enough time to heal. Whether the healing needs to occur in the body or in the mind, it’s important to allow ourselves time to heal, time to become our best selves yet again, time to recover before going back to our usual activities or even moving forward to new ones.