Lessons Learned Spending New Years in a Hospital

So a few months ago, while I was getting my annual medical exam, my Ob-Gyn frowned  and said “hmmm”…a reaction nobody wants to hear at their annual. After a few more tests I was told there was an 8 inch long, 3 inch wide, 1.5 inch deep unidentified mass hanging out in both ovaries. I was freaked out at the thought of something the size of a small puppy being inside of me but had a calm and even keeled approach to the surgical removal of the mass. That was of course, until I realized that there was a very real possibility that both ovaries would be removed in the process. American writer Cynthia Oznick once said:

“When something does not insist on being noticed, when we aren’t grabbed by the collar or struck on the skull by a presence of an event, we take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude”.

All of a sudden, the importance of my ovaries came to the forefront of my mind. As the (literal) seat of creation it is energetically linked to creativity and sexuality, two energies that are really damned  important to me feeling good. Besides my personal interest in chakras, I was apprehensive about the possibility of not being able to bear children. I was suddenly filled with visions of  attending years of baby showers for my friends without ever having a child with my nose or my eyes or my smile to call my own.  Yes, I could adopt but I was undone by the thought of what a lasting impact this could have on my body, and my life.

The procedure was December 30th and I stayed in the hospital for two nights, returning home on the 1st of January. Ironically, I’d say that the things I’ve learned from this new experience have made it a great way to start off my new year. I’ll share 3 things I came away with that I think can help people through a variety of unsavory circumstances.

1-When something out of your control goes wrong, don’t forget about everything in your life that is going right.

The day before surgery, I cycled in and out of quiet acceptance and fear-induced sessions of feeling sorry for myself. At one point, my pity party was interrupted by a call from a nurse for some standard pre-op questions.It started with basic questions about whether I was allergic to any medication or latex, but evolved into the following exchange:

Nurse: “Do you have Diabetes?

Me: “Umm…no”

Nurse:”Have you ever had a stroke?”

Me:”A stroke? No, no”

Nurse”Are you an amputee?”

Me: “Nope”

Nurse: “Do you have a pacemaker or any other heart replacement”

I had to stifle a laugh to that one before responding that no, my heart was not replaced by a machine. By the time the questionnaire was done, it felt ludicrous to mope about a malfunction in only one part of my body. So much of my body was working better than fine! We tend to obsess on the few things that have broken down rather than recognizing how much of our lives, or our projects, or our bodies are working just fine. Gain a bit of perspective on what’s not working by taking note of everything that is.

2-Do not take for granted the importance of good people in your life

Coming out of surgery is a chaotic experience. I woke up bawling, convulsing, and responding best as I could to the patchwork of voices and movement that were echoing around me.  I didn’t feel grounded until I saw my family and boyfriend around me in my hospital room. The kindness and support of the nurses, the techs, and the few friends and family who came by to see me in my 2 days at the hospital were the most important part of my healing process. The small act of  someone you care about just sitting with you when you’re sore, hopped up on morphine, and ashy speaks volumes. Because even though I was the one who actually went under the scalpel, they let me know I didn’t have to experience it all by myself. When shit hits the fan in other areas of your life, it is important to have people who you know support and take time to show that they care about you in that moment. It is your relationships that can give you the momentum to swing through the low points of a problem before getting to the other side ok.

3- Look at obstacles as opportunities to explore new strengths.

I have never been known to be a physically tough person. My pain threshold is embarrassingly low. I squirm at the thought of painful contact.  Why I put myself through the torture of watching Tarantino’s films is a mystery to me because I’ve never been someone who could comfortably deal with the seeing, much less experiencing, pain.  But you know what? This experience taught me that I’m not made of glass. I handled the few days of pain after getting cut open and sewn shut, and managed to do so with grace. 3 days ago I could barely walk and now, I can move well enough to boogie down to Lil Wayne in my kitchen. Whitnessing the resilience of my body and spirit in this entire ordeal has made me look at myself differently. As painful and unexpected as this was, I bounced back. And did so with more speed and enthusiasm than I expected of myself. When an unpleasant change is thrust upon you, when something difficult or painful walks uninvited into your life, thank it. Be grateful for it. Because whatever is required of you to get to the other side will reveal strengths you didn’t even know you had.


One Response to “Lessons Learned Spending New Years in a Hospital”
  1. Adam says:

    You are such an incredible writer. It is a pleasure reading your work. I have SO MUCH mad respect for you.

    I love you Kim!!!

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