This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness
Comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!…
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
I lost my home internet connection while I was at the hospital. My best buddy Chris moved out of the guest house and took the internet with him. During my recuperation-that-is-not (more about which later), I had a tough time getting new internet installed. I lacked both the gumption and the funds.
So here I am now, back online.
Just in case you’re interested, let me tell you the story of my back surgery (“hysteria ensues”)….
All went well and according to plan. The surgeon told me there was major impingement on the left sciatic nerve. I still don’t have feeling in many parts of my left leg and foot, and much pain remains. I am told that will come in time.
The day after the surgery I was up and around and thought I had my old life back, no problem. I was elated.
Then the next day, doom.
The pain returned, full force, possibly worse than before the surgery. And it seemed to have made friends with my right side as well. What’s most disturbing is that now my right leg is terribly painful. I’m worried that what remains of the surgically altered disk has shifted too far to the right, now jumping all over my right sciatic nerve. I returned on a panic trip to the surgeon who told me there was nothing to worry about and that if the pain persisted until March, he’d do another scan. I was momentarily appeased. Long enough to get all the way home with a prescription of narcotics.
Then it hit me: another month of living like this? (panic!) Functional and relatively pain-free only when dosed up with drugs? Stuck at home alone with no contact with the outside world? I’ve been doing that since November. How much more can a person take? (the panic spreads!)
So here I sit, loaded with self-pity and Vicodin. Or rather I should say, sitting for twenty minutes, walking around the house for forty, lying down for a nap, repeat. All. Day. Long. For what seems like forever.
Before the surgery, I accepted my lot. It had been coming for a long time. I had time to deal with it and became intimate with its development, the way my body and my life changed along with the pain and the decreased mobility. Plus, I honestly believed there would be an end to it. I had ultimate faith in the results of surgery.
Now, I feel betrayed. I was supposed to be fixed, like the Bionic Woman! The day after surgery, I was supposed to be able to fox-hunt first field! I was supposed to be able to run the Charlottesville Women’s Four Miler and win! (No one says expectations have to be reasonable) But seriously, my expectations were that I would be relatively pain free and mobile. I could make my own bed. Clean my own house. Pick up my dogs and cats. I could drive to my physical therapy without being under the influence of narcotics (isn’t this illegal?) and get slowly better and better. Maybe eventually, contrary to what the surgeon told me, I could ride again. The degree of arthritis and number of bone spurs he found in my spine, evidence of an athletic life lived without caution…these things may have come back to haunt me like the punch-drunkenness of an old boxer.
Sooner or later, every human being encounters something like this. We all go through the same thing, right? I’m wondering how others deal with the pain and disappointment. Please let me know if you have a better plan for me and humankind.
So here’s what I’m thinking….I am in effect publishing here a kind of auto-therapeutic essay. Stop here if you’re not interested in essentially Buddhist psychology. I won’t hold it against you.