6 Steps to Post-Hospital Recovery – My “Happy to be Home” Routine

6 Steps to PostHospital Recovery - From an Experienced Professional Patient to You!

Hospitals, while necessary, are sad, disgusting, depressing facilities (for the most part). You know you have to be there, but the longer you are, the more you feel like you’re not yourself, not a person.

That’s why I have developed a “Happy to be Home” Routine, AKA “Back to Being A Person.” It basically resets my system, making me feel as back to normal as I can, as quickly as possible.

Today, I’d like to share that system with you.

For example, this last stent of illness required two hospitalizations very close together. The first was 9 days, then only two sweet, wonderful days home, then back in the hospital 11 days. It was rough! I was SUPER HAPPY when I was finally able to go home. But, I was in a really yucky post-hospital state.

The very next day after my discharge, I started my routine. I had a nice long, hot bubble bath. I shaved my legs (they had seriously gone Gorilla!). I washed my hair and left on a conditioning mask. Afterward, put on some really moisturizing lotion. My parched skin thanked me! And girls, those eyebrows needed attention!

Of course, just being discharged, that was all I could do the first day. Fortunately, this routine is of my invention, so I can do it however I want!

The following day, even though I knew I wasn’t going anywhere, I took the time to carefully style my hair. I painted my fingernails with a new nail polish I hadn’t had a chance to use yet. All the while, I listened to a new album of music that I had been waiting to hear. Loudly. There’s no one else around, anyway, right?!

Now there’s also the practical side. I opened all our mail that had been coming in while we were gone. I made a list of all the follow-ups I need to schedule and made all my phone calls too. I hate having those things looming over my head, don’t you?

Later that night, I helped my Mom cook dinner, and we all ate together as a family and watched a Movie together.

All in all, it’s been a good start to The “Happy to be Home” Routine, AKA “Back to Being A Person.” I’m almost 100% back to feeling like Mia again.

So here’s My List of things to do and accomplish when you get home from the hospital to help you recover, and feel like you again in no time!

1. Wash the Hospital Off

Whether it’s a shower, bath, or whatever your favorite bubble time routine is – do it! Use your favorite shampoo and conditioner, yummy body wash, and don’t feel bad to linger.

2. Look Like Yourself Again

Coming out of the hospital, especially after a long stay, can change a lot of things, especially if you had to neglect them due to severe illness or surgery. Doing things to be myself again has always helped me feel more cheerful. Try fixing up your hair, putting on makeup, or even dressing up! You don’t necessarily have to be going somewhere – this is just for you, to feel like you!

3. Eat!

Hospital food, although it’s come a long way, is still overcooked, undersalted, and sad. Now, if you’re anything like me, I get stuck in a hospital-food-rut and I end up eating the same thing every single day. So, one of the first things that I do when I get home is to eat something that I really like. It gets the appetite back, and it makes you feel wonderful to know you’ve had a homemade treat. So, eat up!

4. Do Something Practical

While not the most fun thing in the world, taking care of one or two of the more domestic things that you need to get done will help you to feel like you’re getting something accomplished after being in the hospital for so long. Make a master to-do list, do a “brain dump”, or simply open the mail. Why not go ahead and schedule your follow-up appointments? You could also have someone help you to wash the clothes and blankets you had with you in the hospital. If you’re anything like me though, just don’t go overboard, because you don’t want to overwhelm yourself when you’ve just gotten home!

5. Do Something Creative

Doing something creative can have a stimulating and soothing effect on a person, all at the same time. I feel like this is an extremely important step in my routine. When I’m in the hospital, I often bring things to do with me, but I don’t end up actually doing any of them due to feeling bad. (Besides, hospitals aren’t exactly stimulating places for artistic creations.) However, right after getting home from the hospital, I feel like doing something creative really gets the inside out and gets me ready for normal life. This particular time, I chose to paint my nails because I had gotten a brand new color of nail polish that I had not used. I listened to music. I also made my world famous roasted brussel sprouts for our family dinner. But really it can be anything that you personally enjoy – painting a new picture, coloring in a coloring book, starting a new crochet project, or even cooking a new recipe. If you’re stumped, try looking at your interests on Pinterest! They have thousands of ideas, and it should really get your mind going.

6. Phone a Friend

Being in the hospital is an unusual experience. You feel like life is moving very slowly, but in actuality, it’s moving quickly all around you. People’s lives are very busy. There is a tendency to lose touch with friends and also family members while there. So when getting out of the hospital, it’s very important to re-establish those connections. YOU NEED SUPPORT! Call or text a friend or two that you haven’t heard from in awhile and that would be encouraging to you. Why not be proactive and invite some friends to your house to see you? Being with those that really care will make you feel like you’re at home again. In addition, encouraging words from those who really know you at heart can do a world of good for your recovery as well.

Now you know the 6 major steps of my “Happy to be Home” Routine. I hope the next time you’re discharged, they will help you in your recovery, as they have helped me!

My 6 Steps to Recovering from an extended Hospital Stay - butstillbreathing.com

Mountainous Adventures

I have a saying in life  that I have  adjusted to social media  recently  called “mountainous adventures.”. I like to use it to explain the wonderful, cool, or amazing things that I find myself doing every single day I have had since my lung transplant. Why do I bring this out so often?

I have found that a lot of transplant patients find pressure on themselves after their transplant to meet some kind of invisible standard. Specifically, an invisible standard of Awesomeness that they set upon themselves in order to be worthy of the transplant that they have received. It seems to me that this is of some kind of rite of passage to know and be comfortable with oneself after one’s transplant. It’s definitely a process of getting to know oneself again!  It takes some people longer than others to reach this point.

However, for me personally, I have found that to be worthy of my gift I don’t have to climb any kind of mountains, run marathons, or invent some amazing product or cure. I don’t have to make my mark and become famous in the world for some grand gesture. I simply have to be me – living my life in a way that shows appreciation and gratefulness for what I have received. In doing so, I can also bring awareness for the others that are still waiting to receive that gift.

And along the way, I find the adventure in everyday life.

Yesterday, my niece and nephew discovered an actual mountain for me to climb! It was in the shape of a tube slide at the park. They wanted so badly for me to go in there with them! I wasn’t entirely sure at first, but eventually I followed them inside that red hole to climb it from the bottom to the top! In the video I was taking on my phone you can hear I was completely out of breath –  this time, thought, it was not from a terrible end-stage lung disease, but from hilarious laughter! Pure fun and joy! It was a great moment, a great day. A Day to Remember.
And that to me is living worthy of the gift that I have received. Living with joy, laughter, purpose, appreciation, gratefulness, love.


Every single day. 🙂

Aunt Mia, Uncle Leland, Biscuit and Smoochie

Dear Fear

Dear Fear:
This is probably going to come as a shock but I’m cutting you off. I’m done with you.
And guess what? It’s not me – It’s totally you!
I know you think we’ve got a rock solid relationship, built on time and shared experiences.  That’s a nice thought, Fear, but it’s false reasoning on both our parts. It’s time to break free.
I know you’ve grown to be comfortable with me but I’ve never been comfortable with you.
You’re always there, getting in my way, annoying me, talking over me, whispering in my ear, and squandering my dreams.
And today’s the day we have The Talk.
I am ending our relationship.
You see, Fear, the thing is, you’ve become boring.  You and I, we’ve been together too long, I think. Remember how you used to come up with a lot of new and absurd things for me to be afraid of? But now its pretty much become predictable.  Some old thing, over and over. You know what you are Fear?  Boring, redundant, useless, and completely futile!
I’ve made a decision. You are no longer going to be a part of my life. I’m not going to let you get in the way of what I want anymore.
Don’t come around. Don’t call me. Don’t text. I’m even going to block you on social media – so don’t try to internet stalk me either.
It’s over. It’s so over.
I cant have you impeding me anymore.  You’ve always been there, right in the way, slapping my hand from grabbing what I want, right when its in my reach.  Well I’m here to tell you, Mister, that I’m through with all that.  Your time is done.  Finished.
And mine is about to begin.

The Ravine

[click_to_tweet tweet=”When life is so overwhelming and dark and bleak and it feels like the darkness is creeping in from all sides and the fear is so great that you can barely stand…. It feels like it’s going to burst even from your own rib cage…” quote=”When life is so overwhelming and dark and bleak and it feels like the darkness is creeping in from all sides and the fear is so great that you can barely stand…. It feels like it’s going to burst even from your own rib cage…” theme=”style1″]Sometimes looking into the past provides a lesson on your present. -The Ravine

Sometimes life is overwhelming.

You look around and all you see is bleak. It’s like the darkness is creeping in from every edge, every corner, every side.

You feel like you have nowhere to go.

Nowhere to escape to.

What can you do?
Where can you go?
Where is your escape?

Sometimes looking into the past provides a lesson on your present. -The Ravine


Along time ago, in a land far away, a teenage girl and her little brother had a really bad fight.

He ran off and she couldn’t find him. She looked and looked for him because she wanted to tell him something before she moved away. She was leaving – moving off to college.

She didn’t want to leave without saying what she really felt in her heart. Now, they had bad feelings, arguments, and unspoken words between them.

But, the little brother hid very well. He played outside often, and knew all the hiding holes everywhere and he knew exactly where to go where she couldn’t find him.

But, she persisted and persisted and finally late into the evening she found him in The Ravine.

“What are you doing in here,” she said. “It’s dark, and the mosquitoes are bad down here. What if you slip and fall? You could hurt yourself.”
“I’m hiding,” he said simply. This statement was profound, and and she thought somehow he meant it to be so.
She could see him there in the dark, sitting on a large dead tree that had fallen across The Ravine, his bare legs dangling across the bare space.
Fear struck her heart.
She was so often afraid of things – afraid of hurting herself, afraid of getting sick, afraid of others hurting themselves, afraid of others getting sick, afraid of death.
Fear, fear, fear – always there hiding in the background. Her Constant Companion.
And yet, she could see him there – that little boy, her brother – he had no fear. Or, it seemed to be so there sitting in the dark in The Ravine.
She also knew that the words that she needed to say to him would require action. She would need to crawl there beside him in the dark, her legs also dangling across that bare space. This against her fear – that was what needed to be done. And so she went.
That seems so long ago now, this teenage girl and her little brother. The discovery of the fallen tree and The Ravine.
A great lesson was learned there that day. It stands still. I remember it sometimes when I need to.

Sometimes looking into the past provides a lesson on your present. -The Ravine

When life is so overwhelming and dark and bleak and it feels like the darkness is creeping in from all sides and the fear is so great that you can barely stand….
It feels like it’s going to burst even from your own rib cage…
Out of your own being…
Out of your own heart…
What can you do?
Where can you go?
It is then that I crawl through the dark, crawl through the mosquitoes, and the leaves and dirt and the moss and the sliminess until I find my broken down tree – and then I sit there in the silence of My Ravine.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Then in that silence that is not really silence, I realize that the fear is not so overwhelming, the darkness that is crawling in from the corners is really just a shadow of my own heart, and I am able to refocus and ready myself for another day…” quote=”Then in that silence that is not really silence, I realize that the fear is not so overwhelming, the darkness that is crawling in from the corners is really just a shadow of my own heart, and I am able to refocus and ready myself for another day…” theme=”style1″]
And then in that silence that is not really silence, I realize that the fear is not so overwhelming, the darkness that is crawling in from the corners is really just a shadow of my own heart, and I am able to refocus and ready myself for another day in this amazing, crazy, terrible world.

Sometimes looking into the past provides a lesson on your present. -The Ravine

Little Moments (A Letter To My Fellow Patients)

Many other patients have asked me what it’s been like after my transplant.  I think they, having some kind of stereotypical image, think that every patient has had some kind of transcendental experience. How do I know this? I was one of them. So I’m going to give you some advice. The advice that I wish that I would’ve had.

After transplant, it’s not going to be easy. You’re going to have some really bad days. Some days you’re even going to wonder “Why do I have to be me?” You’re going to have some days where you wish you were somebody else. Frankly, you might even have some days where you wish had never done your surgery in the first place. It’s just going to happen. This is not being unappreciative, it’s just natural due to the incredible stress you are under.  It’s going to be hard for you to come to terms with the fact that the stereotypical image of the transplant patient that you had in your mind does not exist. But, that’s why they call it a stereotype. You are an individual, and you’re going to deal with this process in your own way.
Now, on the other hand, you’re going to have wonderful, beautiful, amazing moments where you’re going to be so happy that you’re still here to be with your family and your friends. They’re not going to be transcendent, per say. They’re not going to be obvious. They’re not going to be the stereotypical moments that perhaps you had imagined in your mind – climbing Mount Everest or running a triathlon or coming up with some amazing medical invention that saves millions of lives. But, all of a sudden it’s going to hit you that without your transplant you would not have been there to share in that little memory. Hold onto that, my friend.
I don’t know what it’s going to be for you.  I do know what it was for me. Seeing my niece being born. Hearing my nephew learn my name. Having tea parties with my best friends kids. Planning renovations on my house with my husband and seeing them come to completion. Attending all three days of the Bible convention that I hadn’t been able to go to for two years because of my illness. Doing art projects with my mom. Being able to do volunteer ministry work again in the area that I love with my friends. Little, tiny moments that are not obvious to any other person but you.  However, when you really sit down and think about it, those are the moments that you would not have been able to be there for without all the hardship you will go through with your transplant.
So here’s my suggestion. Make a list of your events and memories. Or make a folder on your phone with all the photos of little memories that you have of good times. Whatever it is that you can do that works for you to keep track of all the tiny victories that you have had.
Subsequently, when you’re having a really ugly, bad day, and you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t know why I did this…,” you can go and look over your list or look over your photos and you can remind yourself “this is why.” This is why it’s all worth it. And you can reinvigorate yourself to take another step forward. Step over the mountain and keep going another day.
And that my friends is being a transplant patient. Because you’re not just living for yourself but you’re living for others.
And that’s what I wish I had realized from the very beginning and that’s what I wish to pass along to you.