I don’t know what exactly I’m here to say. I know that I’ve been here a few times. That I’ve started to say things and then stopped. I’ve had my reasons. At first I needed for things to get back to some sort of normal. I needed to be past my surgery, to have come out unscathed on the other side, to be the stronger for it. Then I needed to have got past the pain, and to be able to move around normally again. (That, to be honest, took barely any time. I am both amazed by and proud of my body to have been able to pull through so marvellously, and in so short a while.) After that, I needed to be past getting reports of various sorts. And after that — there was the unbearable heaviness of being.
I have come here, at some point, to tell you about the ordeal of the surgery itself. The hospital-mandated but state-denied COVID-19 tests — how difficult they were to orchestrate, how horribly uncomfortable to undergo, the ever changing hospital policies, the last minute hospital switch, the paperwork and the calls and the tests and the running around.
All of which ought, honestly, to have paled in comparison to the ordeal of stepping into that hospital alone while C waited in the car outside. See, things like surgeries and hospitalisation are complicated by the pandemic. People aren’t really allowed inside — I was lucky I managed to do this when I did, or even I would not have been allowed — and if you’re gonna insist on going under the knife, you’re gonna have to go it alone, opt for larger procedures, and so on. Oddly enough, this bit was over before I knew it. I was messaging my family 2 hours post-op, walking around (albeit slowly) the same night, and home the next afternoon. I was lucky, not once, but many times over. And so I have, at some point, come here to tell you about that, and to say a vague thank you to the Universe at large.
In retrospect, I wonder what it means that this mountain seems to be (kinda, sorta, hopefully) behind me so fast. I think there are 2 possible explanations —
- The anticipation of a thing is often far more stressful than the thing itself. I already know this to be true from the many things I’ve stressed about in the past. I suppose it applies to a thing like this one as well.
- I have finally overcome my battle with
anxiety panic. I think it’s possible that it was adrenaline that carried me through this. Adrenaline: the stress hormone. The thing that triggers your fight and flight response. Years ago, I’d come to the conclusion that I am an eternal wuss, that a large part of who I am derives from the fact in a do or die situation, I’d almost always die. And now — hallelujah! — I’m beginning to think that maybe I spoke too soon. It’s true that just a few months ago I panicked shamelessly inside an MRI machine. But it is also true that I went into a hospital and got a surgery done kinda alone. I know it was a small surgery, and not a big deal to many, many people. But to me, it was a horribly difficult thing and I feel like I managed to sail through it with at least some awkward semblance of grace.
I would like to go a step further and say I am no longer anxious, but I’ve been through many nights of stressful surgery dreams after, and had moments of feeling trapped under silly little objects like laptop tables. And then the many nights of random other anxieties that slowly began to reappear once this big Thing was done.
But I digressed — and how. My point, initially, was to tell you that I have come here often, to talk of many things. And then I spent most of my time here talking of just one thing. I mean, it was a biggie…
I suppose I’ll save the rest for another day. A quick gist is in order though. And so, in no particular order, here goes.
A list of things I’ve tried and failed to tell you about—
This surgery, this sudden knowledge of something that’s been amiss for a long, long time without my knowing anything about it.
- The fact that just a few months ago, I was running a 10k, almost nonstop, and never imagined there was something wrong with me. That good health is precious. It is fragile. A gift. It is something that will fade, whether suddenly and brutally or slowly and sadly with age.
- The fact that I haven’t seen my mother in months, or my sisters, or my nephews (one of whom is going to be towering above me by the time we next meet).
- The odd, inscrutable ache of looking at an outside object — like a pair of jeans or my small blue backpack or my pouch that still has things like kajal and lip balm inside it — and not being able to imagine a time when I could be using it again.
- The fact that I miss my house help sometimes. Not the convenience of all that they make happen for me — I miss that all everyday — but the fact of them, the chatter and the bustle and the company.
- The fact that, on good days, I acknowledge that I might actually miss this sometimes when it’s all done. This living in a bubble where there’s only C and I for hours on end, for an entire day at times.
- The fact that I was naive enough to make plans for an actual when-this-ends at some point. That was then. This is now. We know better and we know the worst and we know that there is going to be a new normal, and then another new normal, and perhaps a whole array of new normals before (or if ever) we go back to what used to be known as normal at all.
- The fact that I feel helpless with everything that’s happening around us right now, and that sometimes, I feel sudden gut punches of guilt. So do you, I suppose. Because don’t we all right now?
Things hurt harder these days. Emotions feel closer to the surface than they used to be. More than anything else, I’ve begun to feel a keen sense of all-of-this-is-fleeting. I know that feeling is a sort of speciality of mine, in the sense that I’ve written, painted and made music about it before. But this, right now — this is something else. This is horrible and difficult and it feels unending far too fucking often and what right do I have to even feel any of that? Here I am, safe and sound, in my house with its four rooms and these windows that I can shut on the world when it all gets to be just
Here I am, in my rocking chair, at the end of a perfectly decent day, blogging about my angst. Is there a word for this feeling of being acutely aware of your privilege and simultaneously ashamed and grateful for it? Is there an obscure sorrow that defines what we all are feeling now, while the world as we know it seems to be racing to its end while we watch mutely from our places somewhere near the top of Maslow’s pyramid?
I’m sorry. That got away from me. I digressed, many times over, and I no longer remember if there ever was a point I was trying to make.
If you read this all the way up till here, thank you, Zonk. You are sweet, and a true friend, and a listener of the most stellar type. I hope I haven’t made you sad. And I hope I haven’t given you the impression that I am sad. I’m not. I’m not sad and I have not much to be worried about and honestly, I am okay. And I hope that you’re okay as well.
Hang in there, Zonk. Do your bit. Do your best. And ping me if ever you want or need to.