It is Easter morning. He is risen – indeed! I can’t remember another Easter in which I was not celebrating the resurrection of Christ in church with others. Instead I am home, continuing to rest up. Perhaps writing today about my recovery from being put to sleep for my surgery will give me a bit more insight into the meaning and joy of the true resurrection.
I was confused. I did not know where I was. Most of all, I was in terrible pain. I felt like a deep dream had turned into a horrible nightmare.
When I finally realized I was waking up from the surgery and laying in the recovery room, I felt alone, isolated. The awful pain seemed to go on for ten minutes before a couple people showed up and quickly administered the “TAP block” anesthesia to the area of my incision. The effect, it seemed, was immediate pain relief.
I was wrong about having been left alone. I never was. My sense of time was way off. I had amnesia due to anesthetics, as Dr. Mulgaonkar explained later, and as my wife confirmed after I was home from the hospital, when she told me how out of it I had been.
After she and I had said goodbye about 8 that morning, right before I was wheeled into the operating room, she had breakfast and waited. After a little more than two hours, Dr. Geffner visited her. The surgery had gone fine, there were no complications, and the kidney looked good. She could visit me in a little while.
The receptionist was surprised, saying Dr. Geffner hardly ever lets people into the recovery room. But about an hour later, a little after 11 am, my wife was led into it.
I looked like a mummy, with blankets wrapped all around my head, only my face visible. She, on the other hand, looked beautiful, and any lingering feelings of pain were gone as we began holding hands.
“My dream turned into a nightmare.”
“It was the worst pain I’d ever had in my life. Seemed to last for ten minutes.”
“I woke up on my left side.” (I had expected my right side, away from the incision).
As I only learned later, I told her these things repeatedly. Each time it was as if I were saying them for the first time. Mary Beth’s only comparison was to someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
After about the third time I said that this was the worst pain of my life, she said, “Well, you’ve never had a baby.” That I remember. I responded that I didn’t know how anyone would do that more than once.
I resumed repeating these same things over and over, at least ten times during the twenty minutes or so that she was with me. As I did, she recognized her recovery room experience for what it was:
“This wasn’t a conversation. It was an act of mercy.”