Today is surgery eve…I decided to name the occasion as part of my day-long experiment on managing the internal chaos that accompanies each and every surgery. Today, I am also getting a haircut because I like the smell of the barbershop (for the soothing), eating lunch at my favorite spot (for the indulgence), and obsessively cleaning (for the control). This is the formula for my own personal self-care cocktail.
I don’t get nervous about the actual operation. I can’t even remember if I ever was anxious about hospitals and doctors and surgeries. For one surgery, the techs accidentally interpreted my calm for sedation, causing me to hear and witness more details than a patient wants to while lying on an OR table. I remember they were enthusiastically singing “I’m Too Sexy”…I really want to believe the OR is filled with classical music or Dalai Lama quotes read aloud or something. Right Said Fred should never be the last noise heard before being overcome by anesthesia.
I imagine I was anxiously impacted by medical stuff at some point in life, but that’s distant. Don’t get me wrong…I don’t like all that comes with living in a struggling body, but I think my brain now understands that the hospital piece is the easiest part for me.
What I hate is the recovery. I don’t like being dependent and needy and limited and weak. In short, I don’t like my humanity. This gets in the way of progress in many parts of my life. Somehow I made the mistaken connection early on that being capable means being distant, aloof, and independent at all cost. Not only is this completely fallacious, but I’m now working on rewiring my mind to see that strength actually comes from the ability to share burdens. I share my burdens with you and you with me. Then, like breadsticks at Olive Garden, there is a never-ending supply of nourishment from which to draw strength. Now, I’m off to practice living that out…
Reflections on lessons learned from being a therapist and adoptive dad.