“You’re going to run out of options at that point,” the Surgeon told me. The various scenarios that led to happiness and good health were there, but there was a darker side to the conversation. There were things happening to me, that if they kept happening to me, there was not going to be anything left to prevent things from getting worse. Getting worse meant the worst. I would die. This could kill me. It was an odd conversation to have five hours after a doctor’s appointment that was supposed to end in a conversation about hernias.
Clearly, I lived. Right after I came to from surgery, I woke up to the idea that I had dodged a bullet, or at least had a small group of people push me out of the way of the bullet. I was hooked up to an IV tree, had a catheter in the end of my penis, and had a tube running down from my nose into my stomach. There was a scar the size of a good sized snake running from my groin to my upper abdomen. I could not have been happier.
From where I sat, or rather lay, things were incredible good, and a hell of a lot better than they had been the previous day. There is no way I can explain the joy of a surgeon coming in and telling me that the operation was 100% perfect. Textbook perfect. Complete success. No problems or issues at all.
It was a pain in the ass to deal with the bevy of nurses coming in and out of my room at odd times of the morning, noon, and night, but I decided to greet each and every one of those people cheerfully, and I did. Why wouldn’t I? At what point was the inconvenience of lack of sleep, the blood taking, the blood pressure, or even the nurse who woke me up checking to see if the box of gloves was full or empty, weighed against the fact that I came into the hospital not knowing if I would leave alive or not?
Standing up was painful. But I walked every day, or close to it, just to prove I could. I wanted the nurses to know I was trying. I wanted to show the world, and myself, I was going to try to get better. Yes, they were getting paid to be there, and I was paying to be there, but at some point they have to know you’re doing your part in the process.
But here’s the thing, and there’s no getting around it: Why not?
Why not go into the hospital with the plan of having the best attitude you can have? Yeah, you’ve been cut, you’re in pain, and you can’t take a shower, but why not be happy? Why not feel joy in being alive? Why not go into the fight in a state of total bliss that you’re still alive and still capable of feeling any damn thing at all?
Misery, even under those conditions, of no sleep, of endless blood taking, of countless visits by nurses night and day, misery is still your choice. It takes a lot of effort to get past that, but what else are you going to do? Why take people down to your level when you can take them up to your level? It’s your decision.
I’m glad to be alive today. I’m happy I survived. I had more than one nurse tell me I had the best attitude of anyone they had ever met, and maybe they tell everyone that, but I’m here to tell you this: being here to tell you this is an incredible thing.
Never forget it.