Monday, July 6, 2009

The Post-surgical Therapeutic Value of Pajamas

Today is D-Day +14. I donated my kidney to a co-worker two weeks ago today and I feel fantastic. I sit around all day resting, reading and visiting with friends. I take regular short walks and longer walks a couple times a day. Until today, I have been out of my pajamas exactly 3 times - to go to my follow-up appointment, a celebratory dinner with friends, and to visit my co-worker/recipient who is still in the hospital. I would have worn them to the dinner, but I didn't want to embarrass my friends.

I have often heard people talk about the beauty of leisurely days spent in their PJs. One friend says that she has one weekend day every couple of weeks when she makes herself stay in her PJs until at least noon. They use the time to read and talk, but mostly to quietly and slowly do nothing. They say that it is restorative.

I have never appreciated the true value of a comfortable pair of pajamas. I am one of those people who pops out of bed and gets dressed ready for the day. I am no good at sitting around and never in PJs. So when Sharon, the discharge nurse, told me that I would be in the hospital for a couple of days and then ordered me to rest at home for a couple of weeks, I headed to Target. I selected a couple pair of snazzy cotton drawstring pants (expecting a tender belly) and a couple sleep shirts in complementary colors. My best girlfriends brought me a couple of very hip sets from Anthropologie.

I think I did pretty well in my selections for a PJ novice. After I was home a couple of days, I apologized to a friend who was taking me for a walk that I looked so sloppy. He said, "I think you look adorable in your tie-dyed baggy pants." Adorable? I haven't been adorable since the second grade at Lula J. Edge Elementary School in Niceville, Florida. I few days later, a genius designer (truly genius) was sitting with me and said, "Did that top and bottom come together or did you do that?" I looked at my orange and yellow plaid bottoms and my turquoise top, stuck out my chin and said, "I put them together myself." "Hmmm..." he said, "I wouldn't have thought of that combination, but somehow it works."

So here it is 14 days after surgery and I am still in my pajamas. Day in and day out, I wear my PJs. I have stopped thinking about regular clothes. My best doctor friend, Kristy, dared me to go to the local ice cream shop in my PJs. Don't ever dare me. I had the peanut butter cup delight. I have friends who come everyday to take long walks with me - I call them my dog-walkers - we walk all over the Canton waterfront in my pajamas. It is shocking.

A few days ago I got up and decided it was time to get back to real clothes. I was greeted by my niece, Katherine, who is living with me. She is a fourth year medical student at the University of Miami spending a year here getting a Masters of Public Health from Hopkins. She asked me why I was putting on clothes and I said I felt like I was committing one of the seven deadly sins - sloth. She said, "Aunt Pam, don't you know that pajamas have a post-surgical therapeutic value. Clothes restrict your belly and will put pressure on your incisions. I recommend you put back on your pajamas." Eureka! Bingo! Jackpot! Permission from an almost-doctor to stay in my PJs!

After 14 days, I now understand the allure of staying in your PJs all day. PJs send a message to your brain that you are in relax mode. No need to run errands or clean the closet or vacuum the floor. Just sit down and read or talk or write a letter. It is restorative.

I am going to suggest that the transplant center modify their discharge instructions. If they seriously want donors to rest and recuperate, the instructions could state: WEAR YOUR MOST COMFORTABLE PAJAMAS ALL DAY UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO RESUME NORMAL ACTIVITIES.

I guess I should start weaning myself off my PJs starting tomorrow.


  1. Wow cool story of why you love pajamas, Now I want wear my pajamas everyday because they're so comfortable!

    Izzy Mayok

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  2. Oh, thank you for a belly laugh. I'm facing surgery, and found this blog in a Google search for hospital discharge instructions. This was a delight.

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