Tuesday, June 7, 2011

reflections on surgery

So, yesterday I had surgery. I first sprained my ankle when my friend and high school basketball teammate stepped on it as I was driving the lane one day in practice (which, at the time, was a tremendously uncharacteristic move on my part, since my typical move was to catch the ball and either turn & shoot, or pass it back out). Then, over the course of the next 20+ years, I would regularly re-injure the same ankle. The injuries were of degrees varying from tweak to twist to sprain. Over the years, my ankle became easier to injure, and it became easier for me to self-diagnose ... or, at least, to not go to the doctor.

Finally, though, the pain got too intense, and even when I hadn't injured it, the simple act of running caused too much pain. So I made an appointment, got x-rayed, talked with the doctor, and scheduled surgery. And yesterday was the day.

I've known for at least five or six years that I would need to have surgery, and I've known (especially for the past year) that the end result would be a functional ankle. There was no doubt in my mind that this was what I should do.

I guess there was still some doubt in my emotions, though, that was building for a couple days. I know this isn't unique, but I had a little trouble really stilling myself the day before the surgery. I'm sure I was anxious as I ventured into the unknown. And yesterday, before we went to the surgery center, I found myself pacing nervously around the house, trying desperately to make sure I did everything in my power to make sure the day went smoothly.

The whole time I knew, intellectually, that I would be in good hands; the whole time I knew that there really wasn't much I could actually do to make things go smoothly, to make the surgery successful. But I didn't actually relax until I was in the pre-op room and the nurse was telling me what to expect. She said, "... they'll wheel you into the operating room, you'll roll onto the operating table, and the anesthesiologist will put something in your I.V. that will make go to sleep. The next thing you will be aware of is waking up in the recovery room."

It was this final statement that got me. 'The next thing you'll be aware of ...' When she said this, I realized that I was giving myself completely over to the care of these doctors and nurses, and that I had absolutely no control over my fate. I had no control over whether things went perfectly, or whether I would have trouble on the operating table and end up in the ICU for a few weeks.

I realized that I had absolutely no control over the outcome ~ and this was the best thing I could have heard, because all of a sudden, all of my anxiety went out the window.

Later, probably in a post-surgery, drug-induced haze, I thought to myself, 'if that experience isn't a model for, or articulation of, faith, I don't know what is.' To give oneself over to, and trust completely in, the care of another ~ perhaps this is a small part of what it is to have faith.


1 comment:

  1. Amen Matthew!! That "giving over" "letting go" or whatever we call it continue to be what faith is about... and continues to be difficult to do!! Hope the ankle heals quickly.