Scary, Scary Surgery

“Don’t be afraid of being scared. To be afraid is a sign of common sense. Only complete idiots are not afraid of anything.”― Carlos Ruiz Zafón

In 24 hours and 47 minutes (because I am counting), I will undergo my second open and fifth lifetime heart surgery. I will be wheeled away from the people I love and life that I know and forced into unconscious oblivion. A saw will be taken to my breast bone, a splitter to my ribs and a scalpel to the very organ responsible for life itself.

I spent the past month preparing myself for this trauma, as much as a trauma can be prepared for. I created a Last Will and Testament. Among the mourners should anything happen to me will be the Federal Government; it will surely miss my student loan payments.

I got five massages, visited sunny San Diego, explored ice castles, threw a party and filled my Amazon cart with everything I could need for a long recovery (and a bunch of stuff I did not need but really wanted).

I have engaged in so much mindfulness and meditation that I thought by this time rainbows would be shooting out of my ass. The only thing shooting out of my ass is a little bit of nervous diarrhea.

Today I will take my dog on a hike and eat gluten-free fried chicken. A last meal, as it were, as heart surgery can alter the taste of food for a month or more. Tonight, after wiping my body down with anti-bacterial wipes, I will get into bed. I cannot say whether I will sleep. I am already so tired that it feels like a can of paint was spilled over my brain, only to dry in its ridges and crevices.

A brain painted shut.

The days ahead are dark and unknown. I will struggle to talk, to sit up, to walk, to pee and to eat. I may wake up with blood that is not my own and/or a mechanical mitral valve, as if I were not bionic enough.

And yet I am hopeful for a day when shortness of breath does not limit my physical activity, be it hiking, biking or drunken dancing. I look forward to the moment when, having undergone an ordeal as violent as open heart surgery, I can say I survived, I persisted, I overcame.

I triumphed.

My mama tells a story about my first open heart surgery. The story is about a friend of hers who, in the midst of a house remodel gone awry, sought support from my mom as I lay in a hospital bed with post-surgical complications.

The story reminds me that life is but a matter of perspective and that suffering is all relative. Everyone on Earth is fighting a battle. Maybe the scars of the battle are evident. Most likely they are not. We must be kind to everyone we meet. We must be patient with ourselves, with those whom we hold dearest and with those whom we do not know.

We cannot feel, we cannot love, we cannot grow without suffering. We cannot live without suffering. We can only hope to suffer with grace, with humility and with the knowledge that we are not alone.

Tomorrow I will undergo a scary, scary surgery. Today and always I am a heart warrior. Hear me roar.

19 thoughts on “Scary, Scary Surgery

  1. PLEASE, as soon as you feel up to it, let us (your reading peeps) know how you are doing. Wishing you St. Francis of Assisi’s favorite greeting “Pace e Bene” – “Peace and All Good”. You are well-loved and needed in the world. Heal well, grow stronger, love will be there for you when you wake up and all through your recovery, dear lady.

  2. Dear Banshee,
    I applaud your courage and bravery. It is hard to admit your fears, and I thank you for sharing them here in such an articulate and enlightening post. Please know that this faithful reader in Texas will be praying not only that you survive this, but that you will thrive afterward with greater capacity for aerobic exercise, whether that entails hiking, drunken dancing or really good sex. (A girl can dream, right?) Surely it’s not an accident that your heart will be repaired the week of Valentine’s Day. Here’s to your successful surgery, and a quick and comfortable recovery with your fully restored heart! Hoping you can find a way to let us know you came through it, even though you’ll be feeling like crap for a while afterward. Your voice is a powerful force, whether you’re advocating for your social work clients, regaling us with tales of modern dating debacles or raising awareness of heart disease. I optimistically look forward to reading your words again soon!

  3. Thank you for your intrepid reports from multiple fronts, Ms .Banshee. I wish you strength and godspeed, and will eagerly await your next update!

  4. You have helped & entertained me greatly with your wise and humorous writing. Thank you! Sending you support and courage to make it through this.

  5. Sending you much love, peace, courage, and strength. Your bridge is strong and sturdy, and I know you’ll glide right across it, landing safely back where you’re meant to be. 💕

  6. Dear Banshee sister,
    Yes I ‘hear you roar’ and I feel the power of your roar shake my bones ! May your power now be turned inward for the healing period ahead. Know you have a loving, devoted and vibrant Circle of healers surrounding you now.

  7. I had you on my mind and in my prayers. Will continue to hold you in the light of healing.
    Take the time to heal and be well. You got this!

  8. Thinking of you with love as you go through this. Thanks for all that you do for social workers and the rest of us!

  9. Hoping one of the Banshee’s close friends or family might comment here and let us know how the surgery went??? Here’s hoping you’re coping – still praying in Texas!

    1. Banshee’s mom here reporting that all is well besides fatigue and pain making it difficult for the Banshee to look at her phone. Thank you for your heartfelt good wishes and concern , it has meant a lot. The Banshee promises to write soon.

  10. Dear Banshee’s Mom: Thanks so much for the update! Wishing your girl the fastest and most comfortable recovery possible.

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