Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Neck Operation and Choices


In a few weeks I'm having an operation to fix a bulging disk in my neck. It's my second time and, I hope, the last. The ache has been coming and going for a while but for three months has settled in for good. It's not debilitating, but after an hour at a keyboard I'm sore and there are times when I can't sit in a chair comfortably. Also, I can't lift anything heavy over my head, which makes it difficult to, well, left heavy things over my head which has always been a hobby of mine.

The recovery last time was eight weeks. I'm hoping for six this time. Last time I had as much trouble emotionally as physically. It's such a shock to have someone cut into my body and there was all sorts of other stuff going on that made it easy to fall deep down into a hole. And there I stayed.

This time I've scheduled the operation eight days before Christmas and I'm hoping holiday cheer will prevail. I'm also much more aware of what's coming. But challenges remain. I learned something about that yesterday.

I got frustrated by someone yesterday. I asked for something and the person refused. No big deal except in the context of my day it was enough that I quietly exploded, which is to say that I became an angry person.

An angry person differs from a person who is angry. A person who happens to be angry feels the emotion but remains themselves. An angry person loses themselves to the emotion. So it was with me.

I didn't throw things or punch walls. Instead, I withdrew and refused to come back. It's like what happened after my first surgery. I was hurt and got used to being a hurt person. Being down felt, in some strange way, good. My anger yesterday felt oddly good and I didn't want to let it go.

This morning I still felt a need to hang onto being an angry person. Slowly, I worked away from that urge, just letting time remind me of who I am.

It's eighteen hours since I quietly exploded. I'm no longer angry. Letting go of the angry man took time but I'm in a better place.

When I'm angry I mistakenly believe there is no other way to be and that I have no choice. In fact, I have to choose to be angry and so I can always choose not to be.

I can't choose whether my neck and arms hurt right now. They do and that's just the way it is, but I can schedule surgery to fix it. There's no choice about the pain and discomfort following surgery, but I choose how to approach recovery and who to be. I don't have to be a hurt person. I can be aware and not sink into darkness.

Toward that end, I will spend a fair amount of time here writing about the operation and recovery. I have a lot to learn from this and my best way to learn is to write on.