Hi readers. I’m about to drop some more “real talk” on you, which seems a bit premature since I just shared some inner-mosties with you a few weeks ago. But this is what’s real for me right now, and it’s totally relevant to the blog, and I actually think it might help some folks out, so I’m going to go ahead with it.
Yesterday, I had a LEEP. And as much as I wish that was some new awesome HIIT-like acronym for a new totally kick-butt workout style, it’s not. A LEEP is a procedure that’s administered to female-bodied people who show signs of pre-cancerous cells on their cervix. I’ve had quite a few abnormal paps over the past few years, but the last time they did a biopsy, they found high-grade lesion, and suggested I go through with the LEEP to avoid those cells turning into cervical cancer. It’s been an extremely scary and emotional process, but the LEEP procedure itself wasn’t all that bad. It lasted what seemed like under ten minutes, and I only experienced some mild cramping and fatigue the rest of the day.
That’s a lot of personal info I’m putting out there, but women’s health is important, and because it’s deemed unimportant by men in power who think they can make decisions about our bodies, I figure any chance I have to talk about cancer-screenings, etc., I’ll take it. So, consider this a little PSA: get regular paps, ask tough questions about sex, start paying attention to your lady-business. And hopefully my story about the LEEP can provide you some comfort should you ever have to have one.
I’m also telling my story about the LEEP because I’m going to talk about what the top-hit sites on the internet didn’t tell me: the fact that I would be told to refrain from exercise for at least a week during recovery.
Honestly, this thought didn’t even cross my mind. I read all the “What to Expect After a LEEP” FAQ’s online, and NONE of them mentioned anything about exercise. They all talk about how long it will take before you can have penetrative sex again, but not one says anything about exercise. I assumed that if that was an issue, it would be on every page. And my doctor didn’t even mention this to me in person at the procedure. My mom basically begged me to call and double-check about exercise, which I only did after Googling “exercise after LEEP” and finding about five pages that had different advice. When I got the nurse on the phone, she said they recommend not exercising until the bleeding stops, which I’m optimistically hoping won’t be more than a week, but, possibly, it will be longer.
Readers, if you’ve read this blog even a few times, you probably know that I love exercising. LOVE. I often say that exercise is to me what coffee is to other people. I can’t start my day without it. I feel tired, low-energy, irritable. And right now, as I’m writing this during the time that I’m usually sweating away, just one day after the procedure, I’m already feeling a bit stir-crazy.
But this blog has made me want to be a better version of myself. (Isn’t that romantic? YOU, readers, make me want to be a better person!). So instead of burying myself in a hole of self-pity, I’m going to try to rise above this, and respond to the situation in a healthy, happy way. And if you ever find yourself sidelined from working out because of a LEEP or another type of injury, hopefully some of what I’m trying to do will be helpful.
- Re-frame the situation. In my case, this is pretty easy to do. Instead of focusing on this as a setback, I can view this as what it also is: I had a potentially life-saving procedure, and I’m privileged enough to have the insurance to cover it. How/why would I ever complain about something like that?
- Eat healthy. I know this is treading on some dangerous ground. Clearly, my relationship to exercise is not entirely disconnected from my history with an ED. So to say that eating healthy should correspond to times when you can’t exercise is potentially illustrative of some messed up thinking. That being said, eating healthy, in and of itself, is a good thing. I’m going to be careful not to drastically cut my calorie intake, but I do want to be mindful of the fact that my usual eats are fuel for intense exercise. Without intense exercise, I don’t need as much. And because exercising actually makes me crave healthier foods, I just need to be careful with figuring out what my body wants and needs.
- Remember that everything is temporary. I just talked about this in this post, but it’s worth repeating. Impermanence is our only permanent. Whatever challenges life is throwing at you, they aren’t going to last forever. If all goes well, I’ll be back to exercising in just a week. And if it takes longer than that, I’ll just keep remembering that the end is in sight…..This is a tough one. Even as I’m writing “‘just’ a week” I’m having negative thoughts that are saying “JUST a week?!?! A week is FOREVER!” But here’s the thing; it’s really NOT. So I’ll just keep reminding myself of that.
- Take advantage of the free time. I spend hours of my day working out and getting to and from my yoga studio. This is an entirely valuable and legitimate part of my day, and is entirely worth it. However, without my usual workouts, I’ll have hours of free time. I know I will be able to find something useful to do with them! Like dissertate. Or recipe-create. Or dance around my house. Or call a friend. Or take a walk with a friend. Or, or or or…! So many options.
- Practice meditating. I’m bad at this. For someone who is en route to becoming a certified yoga instructor (classes start TODAY!), I am lacking a lot of skills that enable you to just “sit, breathe, and be.” I guess that’s a big reason I decided to go through with the training. But during this exercise-less week, perhaps I can flex some restorative meditation muscles. People say it works wonders. I’ll give it a shot….
- Have some perspective. Believe it or not, this is not the worst thing happening in my life right now. There are some more serious issues at hand that I’m not going to share on the blog, that aren’t necessarily happening directly to me, but are impacting people I love in very real ways. And even if that wasn’t happening, there are a million worse things happening in the world. Poverty, war, racism, etc. Getting what is likely to be a successful treatment and being unable to exercise sort of pale’s in comparison, ya know?
And, it also always helps to know you’re not alone. Here are some fellow bloggers that have had workout set-backs, but found positive ways to cope:
Angela writes about taking a break from running.
Naomi talks about taking it easy.
A fellow Minnesotan explains how she copes with injury.
Have you ever been injured? Have you ever had a LEEP? How do you cope with not being able to exercise?