By the time you read this, I may not be in any condition to read anything. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I’ll have gallbladder-removal surgery on March 11, the day this column and this issue of The Reporter hit newsstands. At this very moment, there’s a better-than-average chance that I’m getting prepped for surgery at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital, completely under the anesthetic and getting the troublesome organ removed while I sleep, or just emerging from a post-surgery haze and hoping I can go home shortly.
Or perhaps I’ll be making my way through a seven-to-10-day recovery period in which I won’t be going to work, doing any heavy lifting, or embarking on anything more strenuous than lifting a cup of tea to my lips, for fear of developing a hernia or worse.
As I said at the outset, however, none of this is a bad thing. To tell you the truth, in many respects, it’s quite good.
For starters, it’s all happening faster than I expected. I had my first bout of severe abdominal pain back in September, which led to a panicked sprint to the Strait-Richmond Hospital’s outpatients department after three of the most agonizing, confusing hours I had ever experienced. I was diagnosed with gallbladder issues and directed to have the organ removed in November, but at the time, I was advised that surgery could take up to a year, and possibly longer.
Imagine my surprise, then, when my surgeon at St. Martha’s met me in February and announced that I could expect to get the procedure done within the following two months. The timeline tightened up even more when I had my pre-op appointment in February, met my anesthesiologist last Thursday, and was phoned with a surgery date just over 18 hours later.
So, I know I could have it a lot worse. There are hundreds, even thousands, of Nova Scotians waiting several months for everything from liver transplants to hip replacements. (I happen to be related to someone waiting for the latter.) The idea that I could have this once-functional and now-irritating organ gone by the time you read this is nothing short of astounding.
On top of that, it’s forcing me to take a good look at my dietary intake. I was advised to stay off spicy, greasy and fatty foods after my first round of pain back in September, I was able to do that for the most part, although I still struggle with it. Hopefully this surgery will be the kick in the pants I need to take better care of my body, once and for all.
I also expect to get a lot of reading done during the recovery period. And not just in terms of my go-to whenever I’m feeling sick, back issues of MAD Magazine. I started a daily Lenten Bible study a couple of weeks ago and I expect to be able to keep that up with no trouble. I’ve got several books that I’m only halfway finished and numerous others that I would love to read but haven’t even started yet. I’m not nearly the voracious reader that I would like to be (or that Cathy already is) but I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into the written word over the next week-and-a-half.
There are so many other things that encourage me about a forced seven-to-10-day break from the rest of the world: More time with Cathy (before I inevitably drive her crazy, of course), more time spent in prayer, and perhaps even more time to devote to music – listening, playing, singing and creating.
And then there’s even the idea that I’ll be under anesthesia for a few hours on the surgery day, and perhaps not as awake or lucid as normal during the first few days of my recovery period.
I honestly don’t mind that idea.
See, we’re at a point of our history – even at a point of 2020 – where I won’t mind turning my brain and my body off for a few hours at a time.
Imagine, not having to think about the worldwide panic over COVID-19 or the idea that we’re changing our habits for a worldwide pandemic but not for the global climate crisis.
Or getting an escape from Peter MacKay tweeting a red-meat policy statement designed to rile up Conservative supporters but then sheepishly deleting it three hours later.
Or being free from empty Prime Ministerial promises about reconciliation, brainless Presidential rants about real or fake enemies of America, or a Democratic nomination race that has suddenly pitted a pair of white septuagenarians against each other.
I’ll take the gallbladder surgery because, let’s face it, any amount of gall-removal would hit the spot right now.
For all of us.