Today, a friend of mine is going in for surgery and it made me start to remember all of the things that I thought and worried about before each of my 5 major surgeries in the last couple of years (see A Brief Timeline of Crazy if you just went, “wait, WHAT?”) I can go on and on about how scary and difficult and painful surgery is (wouldn’t that be a fun blog to read?!) but I realized that no one really talks about the good parts of having misbehaving organs ripped out. So here it is…
The 5 BEST Things about having Major Surgery
- The Binge Watching- TV shows and movies on Netflix, Amazon On Demand, Hulu, etc. were practically designed for someone in the hospital or in recovery. My suggestion is to pick a show that you have never seen before that is already 6 or 7 seasons in and then just marathon it. Personal favs include Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl but I am really sophisticated and cultured like that, you may be more of a West Wing person and that’s cool too. I wouldn’t recommend Lost though because with all the drugs in your system you will probably get really…well, I think you know where I’m going with that one! Which leads me to…
- The Drugs- I have a bizarrely high tolerance to pain meds, but even I got to a point when I started professing my love for the nursing staff giving me the drugs. Apparently I kept telling my Dilaudid-wielding nurse, “I love you, do you know how wonderful you are?” This got a little awkward for my husband who was standing there, especially since it was a male nurse! If you are lucky you get a magic device- the pain pump (my favorite was filled with Dilaudid but Morphine is pretty good too.) Don’t be a hero, you don’t get any points for not pushing that button, use this liberally and enjoy.
- The Love- Your friends and family will come out of the woodwork to shower you with cards, emails, texts, flowers, gifts, jewelry (ok, maybe not jewelry, but if you have a friend in surgery- please consider it. Nothing says “Get Better Soon” like a pair of diamond studs!)
- The Help- Again, at no other time in your life will people be so ready and willing to help you. Everyone says, “Let me know what I can do.” Don’t make the mistake I did and just think that is an empty line. Most people that say this truly do want to help (and if they don’t- too bad, they offered, if they didn’t mean it that’s on them!) Seriously, let your loved ones know what they can do. Here’s a list of possibilities- grocery shopping, dishes, pick up dry cleaning, make you food, buy you food, watch your kids, do your laundry, bring you magazines, get your prescriptions, or just come over and keep you company for awhile when you can’t leave the house and are going stir crazy.
- The Perspective- I think this is the biggest one. If you survived a major surgery (or many surgeries) you will probably come out of it a little different. You don’t know just how much you can live through until you go through it. The worst of the pain, the hospital stay, and the recovery feel like forever. But then one day, you wake up and realize that you are starting to get back to yourself again. You think, how in the world did I get through that?! And you start to understand that just maybe you are stronger than you ever gave yourself credit for. Maybe you have a little more appreciation for the good things in your life. Maybe you hold your loved ones a little tighter because you realize just how precious your life and health are. Maybe you will one day be able to give support and compassion to someone going through a tough time in a whole different way because you get what it is like to be really down. Maybe the whole process helps you realize just how many people love you and who your true friends are. And maybe, just maybe, you have some killer new bling to go with your new look on life.
If you are about to go into a major surgery right now or know someone who is, remember that even the hardest things in life eventually pass. Enjoy the downtime while you have it, I feel like I’m speaking in cliches here, but the world moves really fast most of the time. I don’t really believe that everything happens for a reason. But I do believe that things happen and you call on every bit of strength you have to deal with them, and that you can then choose to find something good that came out of it all.
I can’t say that I enjoyed any of my surgeries or sicknesses, but I can say that I truly appreciate all the love that people showered on me, the knowledge that I have more resilience than I ever dreamed of, and that I am overwhelmed in gratitude that I am alive, on the mend, and able to hold my husband and daughters every night. Oh and Gossip Girl, I really enjoyed getting to watch that show in a continuous marathon- when you are on drugs and don’t take a break between episodes it is even more crazytown!