On becoming sedated (The Recovery Series)

I’m lying in my bed. It’s been a while, but I don’t remember pain like this. Even the brilliant drugs that they give you in the hospital doesn’t work. So what best to do with pain but to write. This is my recovery series. It mightn’t make much sense. I blame the pain. 

Day surgery. I love the concept. It seems as if it’s all sorted in the matter of a day. What comes next in terms of healing is beside the point, but the day is all that’s needed to put things right. Politicians have surgeries. Police have surgeries. It’s a neat little concept.

We all got there at 7:45 and were taken, one by one, into a marvellously pristine ward. We were all positioned in chairs, neatly to the right of our beautifully made beds (which turned out the be the trolleys on which we would all be getting whatever cut open or cut out, asleep or not, but whatever, again, beside the point). Just to the front of us, out of reach, were our own, individual blood pressure machines. It was our very own medicinal ‘Cell Block Tango’ and I kept expecting someone to burst into song. The order of it was mesmerising. There was a single, polite cough into the silence. And then the overture began. The conversations trickled in then swelled to a steady crescendo. Each made their entrance – nurses, anaesthetists, doctors, surgeons, more nurses. The chorus of questions in counterpoint – names, dates of birth, allergies, removal of jewellery and makeup (though who could bother to put on jewellery and makeup at 7:45 in the morning, I would never know), previous surgeries, knowledge of the procedures, consent forms, ifs, ands, why, buts and wherefores. The costumes were put on, the gowns – open at the back, anti-embolism socks – for those pesky veins, robes – to hide the openings at the back, slippers – to complete the sock look, wrist band – to remind you of who you were meant to be playing in this scene. And just like that the hubbub abated, as the swirling orchestra of gowned and masked professionals went off to prepare for their own special scenes. Astounding.

And then the wait.

I took with me my textbooks for my child development course for my psychology degree. I figured if I had to wait for four hours (and I did), I might as well make the most of the time and the quiet. There was a little fear gliding around the room. But fear, for the most part, is silent, especially in a room full of dignified women holding desperately on to whatever dignity remained in an open-backed gown. I also took with me one of the best books I have ever owned, a Christmas present from one who loves me more than I will ever deserved to be loved. It is called ‘Philosophy For Life – and Other Dangerous Situations’ by Jules Evans. And it is an awesome book.

In it I was reading about the Stoics, about our overly optimistic expectations and the art of lowering it. About managing our anger and the flexibility of our will to know that we cannot control the other but we can control how we receive that with which we are presented in this world. That we can know ourselves, or at least come to know ourselves, and that we do not have to mindlessly be governed by emotion or irrational thought. This is not an argument for thinking over feeling, but for the existence of both without prejudice or control. I read about the modern Stoics’ constant efforts, and of each man’s journey to live well in the life that he was given and thought that there was hope for this world yet. And I wondered if I could ever truly understand how to live in the moment with peace, relinquishing control, or need, or pride and understanding that wherever I was, was where I was, and nothing more.

And then it was my turn to be wheeled in. And I chatted with my doctor and my anaesthetist about their children and the great hope I have for the young people of this world who will have to be more creative than we have ever had to be to make a life for themselves (that in another post). We talked about psychology and theatre, religion and wars. And then my doctor said, ‘But at least today, for this moment, in this room, there is no war. Here in this moment, there is only peace.’ My universe tilted ever so slightly and I could see exactly the meaning of it all; people coming together, in one place, with nothing in common but a common objective, for only a fleeting slice of life that was just a drop in the ocean of history that had already been made and was yet to be made. It meant everything and nothing all at the same time. And I didn’t have to control or understand any of it.

The first of my anaesthetic was injected then. And I said aloud, ‘Wow, I didn’t realise that it would work this quickly.’

 

Published in: on February 22, 2013 at 7:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Say it with feeling

I am only responsible for what I say, not for what YOU understand – Anonymous

I came across this quote while perusing all the other wonderful writings in the blogosphere and it got me to wondering about the truth of that statement.

There are some teachers who believe that if you do not understand, then it is the fault of the teacher who has not done enough to make the information digestible, interesting or informative. There are some salesmen who believe that if you do not buy, it is because they have not done enough to make the offer attractive, alluring and appealing. There are some coaches that believe that if you do not ‘get it’, it is because they did not do enough to make your dreams and desires speak out to you, they did not highlight your unique selling points in such a way to elicit the right amount of excitement that allows you to get up and build your self-determined future.

I believe that our word sounds have power. And I believe that it is our responsibility to manage how we wield that power. I believe that we already know the effect of our utterances, that we design what we say for the listener, that because we are human ourselves, we know, inherently, how we will be understood when we communicate. It is that ‘theory of mind’ which allows us to follow the trajectory of a pointing finger to the intended target that is being pointed to, and not just stare the finger (go on…try it with a pet!). With that ‘theory of mind’, we know what the other person intends and conversely, we know that our intentions will be known, or at least guessed at, by the listener.

So if I intend to hurt with my words, that intention become known. If I intend to teach, then that feeling is passed on, through my choice of phrase, my tone, my willingness to go at the pace of understanding unique to the receiver. If I intend to heal, then the love is apparent in what I say. I am responsible for what you hear, if only through the intention behind my words.

Do you believe that you can release words into this world and not be responsible for how they are received?

Published in: on June 5, 2012 at 12:49 pm  Comments (2)  
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