How do you measure a year in the life?
A year ago today in the pre-dawn hours I sat in pre-op room number 21, and I suddenly realized that in forecasting my own personal journey, I had never imagined major surgery as a stop. But there I was, wearing a hospital gown and wincing at the sting of the IV port in my hand. I asked myself in that moment, why now?
I didn’t have a whole lot of time to think about it—the anesthesiology team came to wheel me off to surgery, and a hoard of people in blue shifted me from the bed to the surgical table. Five great lights shone down on me and my surgeon and her resident, neither of whom without my glasses I could really see, squeezed my hand and smiled reassuringly. One of them told me to count down from 100, I got to 98, and the next thing I remember was someone saying something about blue urine. I thought I was dreaming, but I was in the recovery room and my nurse there held her healing hands first on one of my aching hips, then the other.
Sometime later in my room, still groggy, I would learn that the hysterectomy and reconstruction of so-called female hernias had gone beautifully. It was five long hours of surgery for me, but my doctor told me they were all very pleased, that the surgery had been comparatively fast. With the help of family and friends I made it home the very next day and alternated between lying in bed and taking short turns around the garden as soon as three days later.
And here I am at the end of my surgical year. As if major surgery weren’t enough, the last twelve months challenged me in no particular order to: function as a single parent while my spouse was on detail in Washington, DC; adjust to the reality of one of my best friends moving away; haul kit and kaboodle to the east coast and back for an intense week of teacher training; teach, write, and edit as usual; and suffer chemical hepatitis. And at the end of last summer, my father died.
When someone complains that something, say, going back to school for an advanced degree, will take a certain length of time, another says, yes, but either way a year (or three or five) will go by. You might as well have something to show for it. Looking back at the year I’ve had, knowing as I do now that major surgery takes at minimum a year to fully recover from, I might not have chosen to put surgery and recovery into the particular mix that was my last twelve months. But here, on the flip side of recovery, I can see the wisdom of those words. The chances are pretty good that all of those other hard things would have happened either way. And the surgery, repairs necessitated by childbirth that I put off for eight years, are not only behind me, but I feel better for having them so.
Before surgery and certainly before the year that followed, I imagined it to be a hard reset, graphing a tech term onto my human experience. But it’s something more than that, even, to be operated on. The surgeon did her part, and friends were amazing, sending flowers, bringing food, and helping to care for my children. One even came all the way from California to stay for a week. My family, my children, fell in and supported me and made toast and tea when I needed it. The rest was up to me. Those turns around the garden morphed slowly back into walks on my treadmill and hours on my mat and workouts with my physical therapist. And I didn’t ask again until a year later:
Why now? Why then? Why ever now? That year was going to happen either way. Sometimes, though, sometimes we make choices and dive into things that will change our lives completely. We can only know, as I did that day, that we’re doing the right thing with the information we have in front of us at that time. We can’t perhaps, always know why now. We might not have answers for Why not now? But measuring back over that year and noticing how I feel now, how I have, in fact, experienced a reset, I am glad I made the decision when I did. I’m really glad it’s a whole year behind me. It wasn’t a disasterous year even—there were moments of pure joy. And I’m looking forward to measuring the year ahead, one divine right moment at a time.
Wishing you joy for this and each of the next 525,600 minutes, Rxo