How much downtime is enough?

Give enough time recover from illness!

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We all go through health issues during our journey of life and recovery depends on seriousness, duration of the issue, and many other factors, the downtime needed by humans to recoup is decided. Doctors of course advise about the same but such advice is given based on needs of the average population. In some cases, it may vary to extreme ends of pendulum swing. But the fact of life is that, we and our body need time to recuperate!

I remember a case of two ladies, who were required to go through Angiography, both were  from similar age group on either side of 50. This is a comparatively minor procedure and 2/3 days is said to be enough for individuals to come back to normal. But in this case, there was a vast difference in the time required to come out of the situation. One of the ladies, a professional, had a meeting outstation. On third day she traveled and attended the meeting. I am sure she must have borne the discomfort and a bit of pain too! But the other lady also a professional but with less hectic schedule took one month to come out of it! Why does this happen? Is it about pain barrier levels? Is it about general fear? In the first case, doctors had said that there is no problem to travel. I am sure the lady would not have traveled against doctor’s advice. Other lady was also advised that 3 to 4 days is more than enough but she did not feel comfortable going back to routine!

Over a period, our body develops its tone, but there is a limit how much we can flog the body, and its energy stores. In normal routine, the body probably functions at 65 to 70% of energy level. Our body has its storage system to store the balance energy available. We have certain situations in life where additional energy is drawn from this storage system. This happens in “abnormal” situations which are quite normal in our life. These can be work or family related stress situations, these can be physical situations where fight or flight decisions are required to be taken. There can be illnesses. These also sap our energy. During sports events we always try our best as everybody wants to win. This is achieved on adrenaline drive. Adrenaline drive is nothing but accessing the reserve energy! Various events or adrenaline drives sap our energy! Downtime needed is decided by how basic energy plus excess energy is used by our body.

Years back I was down with sciatica. It was quite painful initially. After ¾ weeks of treatment plus bedrest, I was permitted to move out of the home. I walked to a vegetable vendor with Jaya, he was about 50 meters from home. I was so sapped of my energy, I could not stand there even for five minutes. After that I called my doctor and he said, “Pramod, the rest helped you to come out of sciatica issue but since you could not perform normal body activity like walking, your muscle tone is totally gone. You will have to walk slowly and build it up step by step.” Which of course I did. This took me about ten days. Mind you I was in thirties in those days! Later on, about twenty years later, I had a minor surgery, I could climb staircases just after 3 to 4 days. This shows that surgery had not sapped my energy, as much as sciatica did!

But about five years back when I went through radiations for cancer treatment , things were quite different again. First one month of treatment was quite ok. But then from second month onwards, the body started having side effects, my throat started swelling due to radiations. I had to switch over from normal diet and had to be fed using Rice Tube. The side effects started different bodily reactions, by the time the treatment was over in about two months, I was totally zapped. But surprisingly even all through the treatment, I could concentrate and read, e mail, I could drive to go to hospital, most of the time. Once the treatment was over, I really felt low. Probably, I was holding my flag high on adrenaline! It took me almost three months to come back to normal!

So, every event which zaps our energy should be treated with due respect! First and foremost is of course the doctors advise. Based on the advice, we should slowly try and come back to normal. This process is not as straight forward as I write. Other factors like age also play an important role! Especially, the regime that we normally follow helps to recoup faster. If we keep on doing exercise suitable to us, regularly, recovery is bound to be faster!

What should all concerned do in case of such events? The person who had that event should follow whatever we have already discussed; but relatives and friends are also equally important in the recovery!  First and foremost, if the illness is serious, let the patient be! We have tendency to try and meet the patients, even in ICU’s. Please don’t do it. These days there is another issue. Many surgeries are done using probes! What this does is to get a false feeling that some minor procedure was done. This is because there are no outside cuts and stitches and bandages, post-surgery. But let us not forget that the “probing” surgeon does same work as before, on the organ, without visible damage! Basic surgery remains equally serious and tough. Due to use of probe, we do not visualize the seriousness. When a heart patient undergoes angiography and angioplasty, it is a very serious ailment that is treated by a simpler looking method; hence everybody including patient may feel that the event was not major, especially if this is done after an attack!

So, friends, face life as it comes, but do not forget seriousness of events. Give these events due respect. Start with yourself and help others understand it!  There is no shortcut to recovery! In life there no shortcut for anything! It has to be done the hard way! Stay well, and recover fast, sensibly.

Author: panvalkarpramod

I am an engineer by training and run my own business. I like to blog but do not yet get enough time.

2 thoughts on “How much downtime is enough?”

  1. Very Good Pramod. I have similar experience.After I had recovered from my 6 months long treatment of Non Hodgkin Lymphoma going thr’ 8 Chemo therapies and I had resumed office after 8 months ONLY when doctor allowed and that time our CMO at Tata Motors and Resident Director were closely following my treatment and recovery.
    I started my office schedule slowly and after another 3 months,there was a group excursion and I decided to participate.I was surprised when along with our group leader,I was the first one to reach the top of a hill.
    On return travel too I was comfortable but in next 2 days AGAIN I had to take rest because I had exerted myself beyond limits.After that all along I took care.
    I also have noted that our body does give some signal and at times we IGNORE and at times we follow and at some times,we understand but don’t take it quite seriously.
    We tend to forget that our mind is young but our body is NOT that young.
    Thanks for your article.
    Vijay

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