One of the “milestones” I hit this year wasn’t a good one: My first hospital stay & surgery. The “gallbladder attack” that sent me to the emergency room was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Thankfully, gallbladder removal is a very common procedure, and there were no complications. I was sore & bloated for a few weeks, but the recovery wasn’t nearly as painful or difficult as I had imagined. Within two weeks, I was pretty much back to my regular routine.
It’s been almost 7 weeks now since the surgery. I still have tender spots where a couple of my staples (which were used instead of sutures) had gotten irritated and infected. I also still feel like I’m tiring out much more quickly than I did before the surgery… but honestly, the holidays are kinda crazy even under the best of circumstances, and this year has been especially busy. It is entirely possible that I would have been this wiped out even without the surgery! Of course, having medical bills hanging over me (and not even knowing if I’ve received all of the bills yet) is weighing on me a little bit as well, and I’m sure that’s not helping!
But in the grand scheme of things, all of that is minor. Life after surgery has been very good for me. And one of the most surprising things I’ve discovered over the last seven weeks is that what I long considered “Normal” …wasn’t. I didn’t recognize it, but for years I was having symptoms of gallbladder issues. They started slowly, gradually. When I noticed the symptoms at all, I attributed them to food poisoning, stomach bugs, or just getting older and not being able to eat certain things anymore. I assumed it was all “normal.”
Only, it wasn’t normal. I just didn’t recognize that until AFTER the surgery. Once the gallbladder was out, the symptoms were gone. I almost didn’t believe it at first – I thought it was a lingering effect of the antibiotics or pain meds. But a week later, it started to sink in. I wouldn’t have to the live with the dull, low level pain and discomfort that had become like background noise in my life. I wouldn’t have to worry about eating certain kinds of food anymore. It was amazing, but I still understood that the surgery wasn’t a magic pill. There was risk involved. It was painful. And there was a cost. But I’m loving the new normal that it has created for me.
And it has made me think about other areas in my life where I’ve settled for a “normal” that really needs to be challenged and changed… even if it require drastic measures.