Thursday, February 24, 2011

Re-enter the Light

They Tried to Make Me Go to Rehab

I was barely out of ICU when a smiling woman came into my room one afternoon and introduced herself. She informed me she worked for Cardiac Rehabilitation. She told me, "I know you're not even thinking about this yet, but I wanted to leave this pamphlet for you." I smiled and exchanged pleasantries and said pamphlet was left for my perusal.

I really didn't have any doubts or issues with the idea of Cardiac Rehab because my cardiologist had told me before surgery: "Young men like yourself (She's really stretching the definition there, yes?) go through the surgery just fine, but often have trouble more 'from here up' (indicating from the neck up). In other words, patients of my age are likely to have depression post surgery.

My cousin Norman had warned me about this in typical family style - blunt, no frills, and to the point: "They knock the shit out of you. You go around thinking that you're this alpha male and then you realize that you can't do what you used to and you have to rely on other people." Well, I have never considered myself an alpha male by any stretch, but nothing prepares you for the post surgery experience.

Leave some body parts alone, ok?

A feeling of helplessness was never an issue in the three weeks following surgery, it was more the shock of seeing my battered body in the shower for the first time. I had bruises, wounds all over (Remember I had my appendix out, then a heart cath, then the bypass all within a three week span.) topped off by long scar running from my neck down past mid-chest, held together by metal staples.

In short, what the fuck was I? Man or surgical experiment?

People often spout that empty platitude of "it only matters what's on the inside." Bull fucking shit.  Once yours is a bit torn up, it shocks the system.

I never experienced straight out depression, but rather a deep sense of confusion and shock was my post surgical state of mind. People or socializing were unwelcome. I had a deep sense of mistrust. I didn't want anybody to see me in such a state.

 The pain meds have to go or you are hiding in a frail shell, delaying your coming back into life. And coming back into life is precisely what is happening and little glimpses of it begin to appear in very small ways.

It wasn't until about 8 weeks that I began to get back a sense of my old self. A sense of humor, a freeness, a lightness and with purpose and continuity - all these things I fel had been stripped away with the surgeon's blade.

Next: Rehab Just Ain't For Druggies

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