Never before had words passed from fingertip to keyboard with such ease—or had my thoughts been so vividly articulated and carried such intense feeling. My poetic choice of words continually filled the screen at the top line of the first paragraph. Upon reaching the end of that line, they fell off the edge, cascading down the margin and plunging into a pool of floating letters at the bottom of the page.
After marveling at what was taking place before my eyes I realized that none of this was actually happening. I was hallucinating by virtue of the medications and sedatives given me during my ankle surgery. I was mentally typing a masterpiece that would make sense to no one—not even myself.
Well, I definitely would not be operating machinery for the rest of the day. The simplest of questions took time to digest. The recovery room nurse asking if I preferred orange or apple juice was like asking me to solve an algebraic equation. She might as well have asked for the answer to the square root of the sum of the speed of light divided by the current wind chill in Alberta, Canada.
Groggy, yet fully aware that my foot had just gone through some major trauma, I suspected it was going to hurt a whole lot more after the narcotics wore off. The reality of how my life would change over the next few months was not a welcoming thought.
I noticed a similarity between my recovery room experience and the days and years that followed my son’s death. In a way, it mirrored the onset of that grief journey. Then just as now I found myself in a haze, fearful of what would happen after the initial numbness wore off; fearful of how life as I knew it would change. Back in that period of grief even the simplest of questions were difficult to answer and what appeared to be crystal clear, may just not have been real at all.
Recovery from either surgery or grief can be slow with unexpected setbacks. The need for assistance both humbles you and puts friendships and faith to the test. Relationships may change as the term “commitment” becomes an action word. Those who truly love you, show it in ways never imagined. You view compassion in a whole new light.
While a doctor can make an educated guess on how long the recovery from surgery may take—no one can predict how long the recovery from grief will last. In both instances a scar is left behind that marks the event. That scar can be viewed as either a reminder of a painful experience, or proof that you have survived the worst of nightmares.
Survivors shouldn’t conceal their scars. There are people in the midst of their own struggle that need to know recovery actually is possible—that life can continue.
I draw strength from my scars. Seeing them reminds me of what I’ve come through, and going forward doesn’t seem quite as scary.
Now, if my foot would just start feeling better…
Photo credit: The Heartwood / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA