Walking From Surgery, Part II ~ Surgery is Easy, Recovery is Hard

If it hasn’t already been written, can someone please write Zen and the Art of Recovery?

If it has, can someone please send me a copy so I can read it, study it, highlight it, earmark it, quote its über-inspirational passages and use my status updates to proselytize on Facebook?  Please?

Because I am not good at this.  Recovery requires a patience that I don’t naturally possess and I need a guide ~ or shaman ~ some form of spiritual presence to lead me to a hidden trough of patience and acceptance; balance and harmony.  You see, my natural tendency is to scream and rage and pout.  And left to my own devices I will begin each screaming, raging, pouting sentence with “But I WAAAAAAANT…..!!!!!!

It’s not a good look on a 41 year old.

Three weeks after my surgery I finally figured it out:  surgery is easy, recovery is hard.

Let’s recount my contribution to the surgery:  I slept.  My entire commitment involved allowing a roomful of strangers to render me unconscious, slice me open and violate me with foreign objects designed to suck, file, cut, tie, scrape and scrub anything that had dislodged, grown, ripped, swelled or disintegrated.  (Oh, and a camera.  They also violated me with a camera.  And a good one, I might add.  The pix of Mt. Labrum are amazing.)  My job, in its entirety, was to lay there.  I can do that!  I can do that brilliantly!  Doing nothing but laying there is right in my wheelhouse!!!  And lay there I did.  I laid there like a champ.

When I woke up, I was in pain.  Real pain.  Sledgehammer to glass hip pain.  Even through the slowly dissipating mist of anesthesia, I could feel it.  Even with that glorious, mystical potion delivering wisps of heaven and warm, downy puppies through a vein in my arm, I could feel it.  I didn’t much care about it, but I could feel it.   The pain, vague and hovering though it may have been, was definitely there and made perfect sense to me.  I am no hero.  I have been brought to my knees by a paper cut.  I have wept from a mosquito bite.  I knew this was gonna hurt.  In two days, though, that sledgehammer pain had evaporated and I thought my road to recovery was nearly done.  I thought what remained would be easy.  I thought the tough part was behind me.

I fast forwarded the entire next six months.

Recovery, I’ve learned, can not be fast forwarded.  Recovery is slow and tedious; painful and painstaking.  Recovery requires patience, stamina and faith, and the understanding that sometimes inaction is action ~ that sometimes the doing is in the not doing.  Recovery is far more complicated than laying down on a table and handing the keys of one’s life to a team of buzzing, swarming strangers.  Oh no.  Recovery asks questions and demands answers.  Recovery, with its weakness ~ with its neediness ~ with its loss and attendant vulnerabilities, is a test ~ a long, inconvenient, painful, humbling, humiliating test.  And it sucks.  It just sucks.

The first red flag that I didn’t get it ~ the first sign of trouble ~ was that I equated common with easy.

Science, in all its genius, is keeping us alive longer and longer.  Our bodies, however, fall apart at pretty much the same rate they always have.  This creates a gap that must be filled…by more science.  And so, as our birthday candles become three alarmers, repairing these eroding bodies becomes, misleading as this may sound, common.  I can not swing a dead cat without hearing “when I had my shoulder done,” “when I had my knees done,” “when I had my hips done,” “back,” “elbow,” “foot,” “_______.”  We are, each of us, being Frankensteined together in order that our extended years be quality years.  Common.  These procedures have become common.  Everyone, it seems, has these things done and everyone talks about them like they’re nothing.  I took that as a sign that this was all going to be smooth sailing.

What can I say?  Sometimes I’m an idiot.

Common these procedures may be.  Easy they are not.

I chuckle at the simple, naïve me that existed a mere three weeks ago.

I had it all backwards.  I was afraid of the surgery.  I should have been afraid of the recovery.

Posted on Sep 4, 2013 by Ian In: All, Featured Posts, Inside Voice
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