Rest is the New Hustle

Rest is the new hustle (1)I’m back in action!  Well mostly…and more slowly but I’m back.

Thank you for your patience while I disappeared from my blog and social media and basically the world to recuperate after my appendix burst.

Ever have one of those experiences where you know it’s changing your life — right as it’s happening?

But you’re just not totally clear on how it will alter you in the end?

I guess that happens with big life experiences like getting married and having kids.  But turns out — it also happens when your health is on the line.  Something that until this point, I’ve had no experience with.

I thought I had food poisoning at the end of January.  But I’ve had food poisoning before and I’d never had such intense stomach pains with it.  But I just figured it would go away.  

It didn’t and I ended up in the emergency room with a ruptured appendix!  Boy was that painful.

Apparently this doesn’t happen a lot anymore because people get to the hospital well before this tiny organ has a chance to explode.

I had emergency surgery and surgeons took it out. But because it ruptured there are all kinds of complications — that’s because when the appendix ruptures it releases toxins into your system and can cause infections.  

My friend Terri (who you know from our shenanigans that I’ve shared on this blog), who is a regular wordsmith, likened it to a dirty bomb going off in my body.  Very accurate.

I got an infection and had to be on lots of antibiotics (which is really bad for your gut health!) and had another procedure to take out fluid from my abdomen with a large needle.  

I literally yelled out at the technicians during the procedure because it hurt so bad.  They were unfazed.  I guess it’s just an occupational hazard.  Angry, sick people. I get it.

I had to stay in the hospital for 8 days and didn’t eat solid foods for most of that.  I lost 10 pounds, had bruises all up and down my arms from IVs, blood draws, injections. I had 3 roommates during my stay and one that I’m convinced I will be writing a novel about. Stay tuned for that.

I was so weak even when I left the hospital.  I  couldn’t even lift my arms or hardly move. It’s amazing how your abs and core control everything that you do.  Take those out of the picture and you’re basically useless.  

It’s been a slow, long process getting back on my feet.  Too much to even write about.

I’m happy to report once boring, daily functions are now a joy! Who knew that simply splashing water on your face without pain would be such a luxury.

I learned a bunch of things during this experience.  Some about productivity, some about people and some about myself:

  1. I’m not a weakling like I thought! I mean, I still can’t lift anything heavy, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about pain tolerance. An organ burst inside my body and I didn’t even take painkillers til the very end.  I had no idea I could do that and quite frankly never want to do it again. I will be taking the painkillers first thing from now on 🙂  But seriously – I had no idea I could be so strong.
  2. I’m ambidextrous.  I always kind of thought this but now I know it’s definitely true. In the 8 days I spent in the hospital I had to have 4 IVs placed in my arms — not fun!  But the really bad part is that they kept switching sides so I had to rely on both my arms equally.  I’m left-handed but I had to rely on my right hand a lot when the IV was in my left. I did it – no problem. Who ever knew I’d discover such a ridiculous thing?
  3. People really surprise you!  I had the most amazing outpouring of love, appreciation and concern.  It was really lovely to hear from so many of my friends, family, readers of this blog and my book during this time.  Here’s what surprised me most — the people who I’d consider acquaintances or people I’d worked with here and there — those are the ones who really stepped up and went above and beyond.  Wow – I’m humbled.
  4. I’m much more open to new things and change.  What! If you know me well you know this is a real eye opener. Normally I’m set in my ways, have a routine, know what I like and don’t like and don’t have time for trying new stuff.  This experience has forced me to open up.  I’m even up to trying new teas for instance. I know that doesn’t seem like much but it is. I feel myself saying “sure, why not.” and “yep, I’ll try it,” way more than I ever have. Turns out I don’t love green tea with notes of lemongrass, ginger and coconut — but at least I tried it. Now I don’t know if I’m going to be eating alligator stew any time soon but you get the picture.
  5. Rest is the new hustle.  I’ve had to offload a lot from my plate to recover. Basically everything.  Every dinner, meeting, phone call, podcast, speaking engagement came off my calendar because I truly needed to rest. I’m not used to going at this pace but I need to remember this as I get back to my regular activities. Slowing down is really “prioritizing on steroids.”

I always hated what Tim Ferriss says about how he makes decisions on what opportunities/interviews/events he will take on.  He says if it’s not a “f@ck yeah” — it’s a no.  But now I really get his point.  Except I’d prefer to go with the Marie Kondo (who I met just days before my appendix burst) version of that — if it doesn’t bring me joy — I’m not doing it anymore!

This experience has opened up something in me.  Maybe that little appendix was weighing me down in ways I didn’t know.  

I’ll be returning slowly to my everyday life with a new definition of what truly being productive and hustling means.  Now I know sometimes it means resting and recharging.

13 replies
  1. rita
    rita says:

    Paula, I had to doublecheck my email to ensure that this blog was written by you. I am so sorry for what you had to go through. You probably have not shared one half of what and how you truly felt. I hope you can add one more thing to your list, “take care of me”, which is the utmost importance.
    List on….. I’m so glad you are ok.

    Reply
    • Paula Rizzo
      Paula Rizzo says:

      Rita – so lovely of you to comment. And yes – it is indeed me! I can’t believe all this happened to me either. It’s been such a difficult time. I very much appreciate all your kind words.
      Warmly, P

      Reply
  2. Susan Thomas
    Susan Thomas says:

    Paula:

    I can relate! Almost 5 years ago to the day! I was traveling for work felt horrible, did not have traditional symptoms (and I know because I worked for a general surgeon for several years). Flew home (could have ruptured, but I did not think it was apendicitis), went to the ER the next day to meet my former boss. He did a CT Scan and told me it was appendicitis! I argued with him, yup, really. He told me he was looking at it on the films and scheduled surgery. mind you, my husband was working and I drove myself to the hospital so I was alone. As he was removing it laparoscopically, it ruptured, resulting in the same issues you had! The lap surgery turned to an open case with a huge scar, but it saved my life! Same complications afterwards as you. Not something for the faint of heart for sure.

    So, take your time recover fully and be thankful you went when you did! Glad you are back!

    Susie

    Reply
    • Paula Rizzo
      Paula Rizzo says:

      Susie – I’m so sorry this happened to you too! Thank you for sharing your story. It was such an awful experience but I’m so thankful to be on the other side. It’s taken me a lot longer to recover than I would have thought and I’m still way slower than I used to be.

      I wish you good health! P

      Reply
  3. Susie
    Susie says:

    Thank you. Just trust me and don’t over do it, you will quickly find you are not in control!

    I really love your book and blog. Thanks so much for sharing. When I use lists(and sometimes I am a slacker about them) I am way more productive!

    You take care of you too!

    Reply
  4. Eileen Wyner
    Eileen Wyner says:

    Dear Paula,
    So glad you are on the mend. I agree with everything you said in your post. I learned those lessons 2 years ago when I diagnosed with lymphoma after being positive that I had a groin pull because I was running too hard. I am now, thank God, far on the other side. I have had the hardest time remembering that I need to be on MY list, but it is the most important item on my list. So, I’ll keep me on my list…if you promise to put you on your list.
    Be well and keep getting better!!
    Cheers, Eileen

    Reply
    • Paula Rizzo
      Paula Rizzo says:

      Thanks for your kind words Eileen! So glad to hear you’re on the other side of such serious health issues. I remember when you were going through all that. It’s really tough to maintain this mindset – which is why it’s good to have a blog where you can remember what you said! haha Thanks again for your comment and sending love. P

      Reply
  5. Neelam Sethi
    Neelam Sethi says:

    I’m so glad you are feeling better after your BREAK. Sometimes it’s nature’s way of telling us to rest! If all of us can incorporate a few periods of rest into our daily routines, it would be so relaxing and beneficial.
    Even a 5-10 minute quiet getaway from our busy schedules few times a day gets us recharged.
    Taking deep breaths, closing your eyes, stretching, and relaxing your shoulders are some of the easy mechanisms your body responds to favorably!
    Hydrate yourself, drink plenty of water and you are all set to go again!

    Love,
    Neelam

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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