Thursday, March 21, 2013

Yes, I'm Still Lent-ing It (Weeks 4 & 5)

Yes, my Lent experiment is still ongoing, despite my recent silence on the topic.

The past couple of weeks have had their challenges, specifically, my oral surgery.  And my impatience with my recovery.  I have found myself frequently frustrated.  With my level of pain, with the slowness of the pain meds to kick in, and with my loopiness when they did.  With my inability to eat anything more solid than mashed potatoes or read anything more substantial than celebrity gossip columns.  (I tried to continue reading the psychological text on racial identity that I had started before the surgery, but when I realized that I'd been over a single page six times without retaining any of it, I had to put it down.  Again, incredibly frustrating.)  With my lack of patience with my children and with myself and my short, short fuse when I'm in pain.  With my ill-fitting flipper that I couldn't wear, leaving the five-tooth gap in my grin unfilled, so I didn't really want people to come visit.  (I try to think of that as a magnanimous gesture; I didn't want to frighten small children or startle the unsuspecting, but it was probably due more to my vanity.  The flipper has since been adjusted and fits fairly well, so I'm out and about in public now.)  I freely admit to having felt a bit isolated and sorry for myself.

I visited a friend today who had much more major (majorer?) surgery than I did, just a couple days before mine, and we talked a little about our frustrations with post-surgical limitations and pain.  Yes, we both know that the surgeries were a good thing, that they had to happen, that we'll heal and that it's all going to be so much better eventually, but that doesn't change the fact that it hurts right now.  And it doesn't change the fact that we're human and we're frustrated by the limitations of our human-ness.

But our human-ness isn't just a limitation; it's also expansive.  It manifests in the friends who texted or called or emailed or facebooked well wishes on my recovery, or asked about me at church when I was home recovering on Sunday, and those who picked up the slack for me in my calling and family responsibilities.

It's my mom clearing her schedule for two days to watch my youngest so my husband could be with me during surgery, to help when he had to go back to work, and to make me tapioca pudding and jello.

It's my husband making me laugh, overcoming my reluctance to display my I-took-a-hockey-puck-to-the-face smile, and reminding me not to take myself too seriously, while still validating my frustrations.

It's my four-year-old son who crawled up on my lap and said, "I wish you had your old teeth back, Mommy."  And my older two boys who gave me hugs and told me they loved me and they'd try to be quieter so I could rest.

It's me "drunk" texting on valium and fixating on the "no straws!" rule on the post-surgical instruction sheet, providing entertaining stories to be passed around my acquaintances.

It's reliving in a small way, and twenty years removed, one of the most vulnerable, frightening moments of my life and coming through it okay.

It's being able to say, "Yep, it sure sucks, doesn't it?" when someone else shares stories of their post-surgical pain and having that analogous, though not identical, experience be a point of connection that helps both of us know we're not as alone as we sometimes think we are.

And as far as my Lent project goes, that's a pretty positive thought, I think.

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