Yesterday was my surgery, and while part of me was tempted to live-tweet it, even I am not that much of an exhibitionist. I am, however, enough of an exhibitionist, or at least enough of a braggart, to describe my recovery a bit today as it unfolds.* I say braggart because of my weird coping mechanism towards surgery, which is to treat it as a competition to get well the quickest. I know that makes little rational sense and sounds like an unhealthy approach, but it is of a piece with my obsessive goal-orientation in general: I’m most myself when sprinting my way towards a remote goal. As it involves getting well, I don’t think that fighting to “win” my recovery is sufficient to be healthy: trying hard is no cure for illness. I do think that, for me, having a goal in mind makes the hurts hurt less and allows time to heal more. if approaching surgery like a marathon is sort of insane, at least it’s my kind of insane.
A few of my gambling-minded friends had the urge to drag me to Foxwoods this past weekend as a karmic good luck charm. Given that I’m writing this blog post twenty-eight hours after I went under general anesthesia, reclined on my couch, with Archer episodes playing in the background, I think they might have been on to something: my luck has been extraordinarily good. Last night at 6 PM was when I was first lucid enough to ask nurse in the post-op recover room what time it was. (My surgery, delayed again, till 2:30 PM, lasted a bit longer than expected but was otherwise unremarkable). I remember one of my first thoughts upon waking was that I hurt way less than I had expected it would. Lying back to rest didn’t hurt at all. Shifting my weight or leaning up in the bed, produced pain but not agony. It was isolated in my left abdomen, the morphine drip dampened it to a manageable “Ouch!” rather than an ”Oh My God, This is Horrible.” Perhaps even more surprising, I was completely lucid while on the morphine drip: when my friend Andrew called to see how I was doing, our conversation turned to the law school exam he had taken yesterday. We discussed how he organizing his exam answers differed from mine when I was in law school (his approach: analyze each issue and argument; mine: keep saying somewhat intelligent things that each plausibly connect to the thought in the previous sentence until I reach the word limit).
This morning at 6:30 AM (didn’t sleep well because turning onto my side hurt), they removed my catheter, unplugged me from the IV (no more morphine), and gave me two Percocet. By that point, I had started doing laps around the 9th floor of the hospital. On one of these, I spoke to one of my surgeons (who had been searching for me in my room). She said that I was doing well and that it was likely that I’d be able to go home today if wanted to. A nap, another Percocet, a visit from my old work office-mate, some painful climbing in and out of bed later, and I was on my way back home, feeling far healthier than anyone who just had surgery has any right to feel. Maybe tomorrow I should head to Foxwoods.
*This post brought you by five miligrams of oxycodone