Back from the brink

Well, probably not really the brink. Though the first thing I remember about the recovery room was the nurse saying, “Karen, breathe. You’re not breathing deeply enough.” My mind said, “Oops, not savasana. Ujjayi.” And I switched over until I fell asleep again, and then she had to remind me again.

I don’t do formal pranayama, but I did discover in zazen that when I am really relaxed, it feels so lovely to wait after the exhalation. Very still. Though inappropriate for the recovery room, apparently.

Okay, so the surgery was fine. Except for the anaesthesia. And the pain killers. Oh, and the pain. Truth be told, the pain isn’t what bothered me. It was the woozy stomach-achey feeling of all the drugs.

I pretty much just lay around for a few days, getting up only when my back started freaking out. I’m not a back sleeper, so the staying on my back business has been quite a project. I did use my iPod and Shuffle to listen to books when I couldn’t read, and that worked out nicely. Though I listened to a really depressing book (Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro), which probably wasn’t ideal, given the depressive effects of all the drugs. Luckily I didn’t listen to it before they put me out, otherwise I don’t think I would have clung to life. In other audio listening, though, I had the Bhagavad Gita. Rock on! Audio is a great way to approach this book. I suspect poetry in general is good via audio.

Yesterday I felt well enough to go out in the backyard and prune the fruit trees, all the while listening to the Gita. Between the sun and the audio and the dog standing beside me with her muzzle buried in the fragrant fruit clippings, it finally felt like things were kind of getting back to normal.

I’m losing the bruises, and less swollen, and today I had my stitches out. The saving grace to almost everything I do is that I don’t think about it too much. (Try climbing? Sure! And when we get to the lip of the deep canyon: Wow, that’s kind of far. And we’re going to use a rope attached to these small pieces of equipment? And I’m going to rappel by myself?) So what I learned today was that the only way to get the stitches out of my eyelids (not just the top creases, by the way, but along the lash line of the bottom lids and into the corners on both sides) was to let another human use pointy tweezers and really sharp scissors to snip and pull them out. Good thing I hadn’t thought about that!

And I have had an extraordinary revelation. At the end of surgery, I looked at myself and was kind of astounded by my turned-up cat eyes. My eyes had gotten really lax, and now they’re all tight and kind of slanted, when looked at from three-quarter view. They’ll relax some, but I have been finding the shape somewhat unfathomable. At least until this afternoon, when I remembered two images: one of them is a high school photo, my senior picture. I think my Mom actually still has it. I hated that photo, because I had plump cheeks and almond eyes, and from three-quarters view, it made my eyes look slanted.

The other image that came to mind was a portrait my landlady painted of me when I was 26. I had on a pink silk print kimono, and my hair was dyed blue-black and all wild and tangly. What always struck me about the image, though, was how she painted my eyes to look kind of turned up at the edges. It was a somewhat abstracted image, and the curve of the eyes very pronounced.

I’d totally forgotten about these images. I’ve spent the past few days trying to understand what I look like, because I look foreign to myself. And when my brain finally pulled up some “here’s what you kind of look like” images for me, it turns out they are old pictures of my self. I find it rather delightful, but also kind of freaky — to look different. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t think about it too much beforehand.


4 Responses

  1. just wanted to say that i am glad to hear that it sounds like the op went well. wishing you a speedy recovery!
    kind regards

  2. I’m glad to hear it all went well.

    I loved Never Let Me Go, but you’re right, it’s totally depressing. Lots of scary images to plant in your mind before a surgery…

    Take it easy!

  3. Yes, I join, glad that everything went well.

    All the best and recover soon and fully.


  4. Happy to hear everything went well!

    Best Wishes on a speedy recovery.



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