The Agony and…well, the agony: My First Real Experience With Surgical Recovery

14 Mar

Beaten Up

Last spring a good friend of mine—an historian who has somehow remained quite fit despite his incredibly sedentary career—walked into my office and told me he had had surgery a few weeks earlier.  I could tell.  He lacked his typical vitality.  He seemed grayer than he had a few weeks before, not just graying at the temples, his whole being seemed grayer.  I was stunned that someone as fit as he was had not recovered faster.  By my recollection it took him somewhere between 6-8 weeks to really get back to his old self.  I felt terrible for him and quite frightened about the idea of surgery.  I mean, if surgery could lay this guy so low, how could I possibly hold up to such an assault should I require it someday?

Tuesday afternoon that same historian walked into my office, stunned to learn that I was about to have surgery—he is new to my blog.  We talked a little bit, he offered me his sympathy and support (both of which were greatly appreciated) and as he left he lamented that “recovery always takes longer than they say it does.” 

The next day (Wednesday) I had my surgery and, bolstered by pain medication, the exhilaration of surviving surgery and the initial good news of the biopsy samples, I felt great.  Yesterday (Thursday) when I spoke to my surgeon’s office I told them how amazed I was that I hadn’t taken an ibuprofen all day.  Well, that was yesterday, and today (Friday) is today.  Today I feel the pain of surgical recovery.  Wow!

I didn’t get into a lot of fights when I was a kid, and though I played some hockey when I was young, and participated in a bunch of sports at summer camp, I never really got clobbered….well, maybe once when my tongue got cut pretty bad while playing soccer, but that was a long time ago.  Today I feel like I got the crap beaten out of me.  Like these wonderful medical professionals, who were really caring before they put me under, each took turns punching me in the neck while I slept.  Who knew that the worst side effect of my recovery would be the stiffness that comes from laying your head down on a pillow?  Seriously, last night I got walloped by a pillow!

Don’t get me wrong.  I am sure things could be worse.  I slept a few hours, meditated a bit, got up at 6 with my daughter, and will go through the day in a sleep deprived fog (which helps a little bit with the pain, I think).  I have tremendous help from a loving family, a supportive workplace, and a fantastic network of friends, both nearby and on the web.  Still, today I am reminded of my friend, the fit historian who got beat up by his surgery last spring, and his parting words to me as he left my office on Tuesday.  “Recovery always takes longer than they say it does.”  I guess he was right.  Damn!

I am sure I will feel better…eventually and when I do, I’ll write a bit about it here.

As always, stay tuned.


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