When slow is the only way to go


I recently had elective hip surgery – it was a long-awaited repair to a torn ligament for something that is often called an “athletic injury”. This term is perhaps overly flattering , frankly, for someone like me who has never been more than a mediocre athlete – better that than an “ageing injury” I guess! This operation will hopefully mean that after 2.5 years of not being able to run or cross-country ski or do many of my favourite things, I may soon be able to get back to vigorous exercise.  This rather prolonged hiatus has been challenging for me – not a terrible, life-altering, drama-filled ordeal – I am well aware of the immense privilege I have to be healthy and otherwise able to move and live my life, but it did mean that I lost, for several years, access to my favourite stress relief activities. There is nothing like being outside on a crisp sunny winter day on a cross-country ski trail. I miss that badly. Or being able to go for a nice long run to clear my head when there is too much on my plate.

Anyhow, now I’m in recovery. The challenge of recuperating from hip surgery is that you can’t move really fast – you have to take your time, walk a few steps when you feel able to, stop when you don’t and, in the first few weeks, you have to spend a lot of time lying flat on your back with some well-positioned ice packs, to let your body recover from the surgery and to allow the hip to heal. You also need to learn to ask for help and allow others to do things for you.

For some people, this sounds pretty idyllic, right? Lie on the couch all day while you are being served? Well, for me, it is very difficult.

My lovely sister-in-law came to help for the first few days after the operation and we had a great time sitting in my living room, chatting, doing our Christmas shopping online and putting the world to rights. But, once she left and I started emerging from the post-operative haze, I was forced to face the reality that my speed was going to be severely curtailed.

I do most things fast – I act quickly, I move fast, I think fast, I talk fast. Ask anyone who knows me – I tend to like having several things on the go at once. I never run just one errand, I usually strike four things off my list every time I head out the door.  And now, all of a sudden, I have become a turtle, someone who has to take a nap after going out to buy a pair of socks.  “Now you can be like the rest of us humans!” said a good friend of mine, which was perhaps a slight exaggeration about my normal speedy state and also very cute and frankly a little bit true. Maybe I do too much because I can. Because that’s how I like life to go.

So, does this mean that I have learned a deep lesson about slowing down that will stay with me forever, even when I am back to full mobility? I can’t promise that. But it has taught me a few things: not to take my health for granted, that maybe pushing myself to get 15 things off my to do list every day isn’t such a great long term plan as I age, and that I have control issues about letting other people do things for me.

Having a bit more down time has allowed me to rest, to pour over some great cookbooks I hadn’t had time to explore (the new Moosewood cookbook is absolutely fantastic, btw), visit with friends I usually am too busy to see, and drink tea on the couch. Maybe going slow(er) is ok after all.





14 Responses to When slow is the only way to go

  1. Françoise says:

    Aw, that’s sweet, Cindy. Please give your mom my best wishes for a prompt recovery! Hopefully I’ll be braving the Lake Ontario gusts in a few months again!

  2. Cindy Bolton says:

    Get better soon. I miss seeing you run around my corner.

    I showed your recent blog entry to my mother who is week 3 post Total Hip Replacement. She said it helped her to know it was OK to rest and sip tea on the couch.


  3. I wish you a steady recovery Francoise, with all the frustration and wisdom it brings. I recently spend time with my Mom who is recovering from a broken hip and it gave me an insight into the meaning of “taking it slow”. With it also comes the need to pay really good attention to every gesture, and the potential of treasuring every moment. My Mom is really struggling with the experience and it is more frustration than wisdom for her. May this difficult experience continue to wield its wisdom for you.

  4. Kevin W Coffin says:

    I am glad that the surgery is finally over. Get Stronger. Get Kingston Strong. See you in June. Cheers

  5. Kelly Garbe says:

    “Pain is God’s megaphone.” CS Lewis.
    In your case post-op recovery sounds like a chance to live self kindness or self compassion on which you teach so eloquently.
    Slow sucks when the world races and we like being in the race but yet the lessons of rest are so sweet too, like learning to receive or “allow others…” Thanks for sharing your turtle.
    May your health be fully restored and may your recovery be filled with delightful surprises.
    all the best,

  6. Lori Tomalty-nusca says:

    Just read your blog….slow is hard, but with thought, mindfullness and a little persuasion, you can do it! Relax, enjoy looking at the lovely snow…that you won’t be shoveling and enjoy the slow ride!
    Merry Christmas!

  7. Dave says:

    Boy did this post resonate with me! Like you, I was someone who thought fast, talked fast and acted quickly but my journey with cancer forced me to give control to others, become dependent and to slow down incredibly, especially when brain fog from the chemo arrived.

    What has surprised me is that even after months of recovery, I’m still operating at a speed less than my level pre-cancer. This is not the result of still being ill but rather a learned response from coping with cancer. I have now found I can still be productive and juggle many activities simultaneously but at a much slower speed. I’m learning to once again become independent, productive and take control of my life but act at a different pace. My life is coming into balance as I find my NEW normal.

    I send my best wishes to you for a successful and satisfying recovery from your surgery. I bet you also will discover your NEW normal and don’t be surprised if some of the forced changes to your life now become an acceptable part of a new you 🙂 …. dave

  8. Louanne says:

    SLOW and steady wins the race Francoise. The ski hills and running paths will wait for you. 🙂

  9. Jim Hunt says:

    Françoise, I am sure recovery is doing you well and its just the universe giving you your time to heal. By now i am sure you are speed walking with a smile and getting your own personal house in order.
    Your an amazing person and someone who I do admire with such compassion for her family and your work.
    Hope to see you in June
    all the best
    Jim Hunt

  10. Julie says:

    I appreciate this post so much. In an age where we (well at least I do!)get frustrated when a screen on our computer doesn’t load instantly, it’s good practice to balance the efficiency with the slower pace. Sometimes I take “the long way” to do my errands, just because it messes with my super-efficient self!! Best wishes in your recovery Françoise.

  11. Michael Kerman says:

    Ahh Françoise,
    Thank you for sharing this news and your insights. I hope the season, which has its speed -ups and slow-downs will usher in this new regimen and your healing process. As you know and teach there are always lessons to be learned when we pay attention to our situation whether it is something we invite or happens to us regardless .
    Having our friends and family nearby (in person or the web) to remind us of their care and love, helps too. As well as the healing smile you share with all.
    Hugs from Toronto.

  12. Eileen Beltzner says:

    Remember the famous line … You have to go slow to go fast! Then you can get going again. Thank you for everything you have done for all the people out in the field to be well and now YOU get well.
    Lots of love and care coming your way from Oakville area.

  13. Françoise says:

    Merci Alexandra! Yes, here is to a slow and steady recovery 🙂

  14. Alexandra says:

    Get well soon!
    Wishing you a healthy recovery (I was going to say fast recovery, but that was a bit contrary to your blog post:)).

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