My Post-surgery Paradigm

Last Friday morning, I was wheeled into an operating room. They strapped my arms in crucifix position. (yep, apparently they strap your arms). Then the doctors came in and introduced themselves to me.

They were about to perform laparoscopic cholecystectomy. I was having my gall bladder removed due to stones and a polyp.

“Hi, I’m Dr. _____ assisting me is Dr. _____. Your anesthesiologist is here, Dr. _____. In a few seconds, you will fall asleep, by which time we will proceed to cut you up”  – yup, this is what basically happens 🙂 

One doctor explained that she was now introducing the anesthesia through the IV, and that I would soon begin to feel drowsy. I instantly remembered this scene from one my favorite movies last year. A gas mask was then propped over my head. Then…

The next thing I knew, I woke up in a busy room full of people.

I was told I was in the recovery room and that I should get some rest.

When I was wheeled back to my room and I was bit more into it, I started noticing the differences:

There were four white bandages on my stomach. They were painful.

My throat was very dry and sore (I was told I was intubated).

I felt very weak and couldn’t move around much.

I couldn’t move my left arm at all! (Apparently, I belong to the small percentage of the populace who have a bad reaction to an intramuscular injection. My shoulder muscle became so swollen, I couldn’t lift my left arm)

It was really hard to get up from bed. (Try getting up using no abdominals and only one arm functioning)

All I wanted to do was rest.

I spent the next 3 days mostly in bed at the hospital.

Since I really couldn’t go online (too much trouble with one hand), 80+ channels became boring fast, and my sleeping patterns were destroyed, I did a lot of thinking, instead.

I always tell people that in the times I get really sick, I get to feel very human. Each episode got me reacquainted with my own mortality.

This experience was something more specific than that. It made me feel old.

I imagined that growing old was like that – when parts of my body would begin betraying me. The difference being, instead of my body recovering over time, it deteriorated over time. Slowly but surely, I would lose control over the only thing in the world I had complete control over. Worse, I would be keenly aware of the things I used to do, of what I’d lost.

What I felt after all this thought?

I just wanted to go back to work right away. I wanted to be productive right away.

It’s now Wednesday night, and I write this with still some pain in my wounds. I still cannot sleep on my side. My left arm is still limited. I still cannot get up from bed in less than 5 seconds. My arm and my stomach shoot pain waves to my brain when I carry my children. Worse, I can laugh, but not heartily. No one would blame me if I stayed home.

However, I insist on going to work tomorrow.  I have dreams to fulfill, and I want to go out trying to fulfill them in my prime, at the height of my powers. Each day counts. 

Being productive is easy to take for granted. The problem is, there is a finite window to productivity. We all grow old. We become less and less productive after an apex.

Don’t waste the most productive years of your life.

Think strategically. Won’t it be logical to build your dreams – presumably stuff that’s pretty hard to do – during your prime? During that point in your life when you have the most energy and will to take it on? Wouldn’t this ensure the highest probability that your dream happens?

No need to wait for that mid-life crisis.

Peter Cauton

Entrepreneur, writer, speaker, startup advocate, HR guy. Husband, father of 6, teacher, unabashed follower of Christ.

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