Monday, May 16, 2011

Surgery: A compelling metaphor for life

The week before I had surgery, I was in a friend's wedding. As we were getting our hair done and consequently plastered with hairspray, the conversation turned to the possibility of drooping hair. What will we do, we wondered aloud, when our hair droops? The hair dresser replied, "Everything droops." and I acted like she just found the cure for cancer and said, "That is a metaphor for life!" because well, it is.

That however, was before I had abdominal surgery. Because as you recover from a surgical procedure, you realize that surgery is actually the metaphor for life, not the fact that you will one day be very, vey saggy. Which you totally will, by the way. No, you begin to ponder other things like, how does a catheter work? Why do you need to take my temperature and blood pressure every two hours? And, why am I only allowed to eat ice chips, awful jello and powdered chicken broth? Also, can I take the morphine pump home with me?

Life is full of questions, many of which you really don't want to know the answer. Especially when you can't shower for two days, have someone asking you if you've farted yet and are vomiting into a bedpan. That's only the beginning, really. I think the only way to survive anything that involves the hospital is to make fun of everything. At least that's my take, otherwise I might have done more vomiting in more bedpans while some teenager asked me why I'm clutching onto my stomach like grim death.

Yes, the hospital is terrible and recovery is too, but I sincerely believe it serves as an important reminder to slow down, take a break and listen to my body. I can't lift things, move things, work, go for a run or exercise for six weeks. In case you don't realize how long six weeks is, let me say this: it's an eternity. Also, when you aren't working, working out or doing much of anything, you have plethora of time to think- in between cat naps and reality TV marathons, of course. If I have realized anything at all it's this: I need to slow down. I never slow down, so being forced to do so is as refreshing as it is difficult. As luck would have it, your body notices when you aren't slowing down and likewise punishes you. Trust me.

But more than anything, I realize that I made the right choice- even if it was the difficult choice. My doctor found five cysts on my left ovary that could only be removed by surgery and if I had chosen a less invasive procedure, I would still be in need of abdominal surgery. When you trust your gut, you make the right choice.

So, what now? I don't know, to be honest. I didn't choose surgery in the hopes of getting pregnant, I chose it to rid myself of the pain. Whatever happens, happens- that is what I believe. More than anything, though, I know that our miracle is on it's way from somewhere. And that's still what I believe.

As incredibly shallow as it might sound, I went into this experience worried about healing and having a sizable scar. I have a six-inch scar that's longer and worse than I thought- I actually gasped when I saw it. But here's the thing that is so amazing about a scar: it's a reminder of something you survived and that something is typically traumatic. I see it like this: I now have an outer reminder of an inner struggle, something I haven't had before. As someone who has plenty of emotional scars from the experience of infertility, I can appreciate that I have something tangible, a visible reminder of survival. When you feel broken on the inside because your body can't or won't do something, it is humbling to actually see it on the outside, too. I had considered getting a tattoo to remind me of the strength necessary to endure a difficult experience, but I have changed my mind. I already have my permanent reminder, and that's all I need.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Surgical Sabbatical

No, I'm not taking time off to become a surgeon. I'm taking time off to be the subject of surgery. It's slightly less spiritual and a bit more intense than a regular sabbatical. But in the end, I believe it will be worth the pain. {Isn't that always the case?}

I'm not sure how long I'll be gone, but I anticipate that I will return somewhat soon with the usual sarcasm and funny stories from the hospital. I mean, the hospital is a hilarious place, no? I hope so, if only for the sake of this blog and this blog alone.

I won't pretend that I'm not scared, anxious or nervous--I am--but I know that in the end, having full-blown surgery is the right choice. Based upon my issues, surgery was the only choice, actually. {I have PCOS, Endometriosis and a "medium-sized" cyst of Endo on my ovary} Especially when my doctor says things like, "I anticipate the surgery will be short, only about 3 hours long." Are you sure that's short, because it sounds long to me. But I didn't go to medical school, so I'll leave the long surgery vs. short surgery debate to the professionals. But let the record show that I do not believe 3 hours of anything is "short."

See you on the flip side.


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