The body at rest
Or at least trying to be
Being in the hospital is one of the truest experiences of submission. You are a vulnerable bag of bones and organs, lying semi-naked in a room, surrounded by strangers with very particular expertise that you could never even dream of having. It’s a valuable exercise in humility, in smallness.
My presence is just another day at the office for the nurses and doctors; they are business-like and cordial, but me? I feel like an abandoned fawn. I am alienated and weak. I want to ask a hundred questions but do not feel like it’s my place to do so. I submit. I am quickly pricked with needles, feel the cold rush of anesthetic in my veins, and then I’m out. Time folds up like a brochure. I wake up with a sore throat in another room. Hours have passed. The surgeon snaps his fingers by my ear, reports on his findings and doings, and then I’m wheeled out to Guion, waiting happily for me in the parking lot. I am so foggy I ask Guion twice what the surgeon told me. I don’t remember a thing.
I had revision surgery on Tuesday, in the hopes of fixing my hearing loss for good this time. I am cautiously hopeful. I still have to wait six weeks until we know whether this surgery was a success, but I feel like it’s in the realm of possibility.
Upon going back in, my surgeon discovered, as I suspected, that the prosthesis wasn’t in the right place and was instead resting on some “bony plate,” which he was able to shave down. The delicacy of his skill is mind-blowing to me. We’re talking about millimeters here. Moving around and messing with some of the smallest bones in the body, a bone smaller than a sesame seed, and nudging a titanium replacement back into position. Medicine is a marvel.
My parents came to help with the boys, which was a great gift, especially since Felix got sick again (what’s new; yet another double ear infection). Collectively, they watched the boys and made us dinner and installed a new toilet, and I’m not quite sure how we are going to make it without them.
I did not take recovery very seriously last time, which could have contributed to the failure of the initial procedure. It is very difficult not to lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk—for four weeks—when you are running after a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. Guion will be pulling double duty for the next month while I heal, and it will be very hard for me to follow orders. I am going to do my best, but I was trained by the women in my family to adhere to such a vigorous Protestant work ethic at home that I find it very difficult to sit still. It is hard to resist this training, which seems knit into my genetic code. There is always something that could be cleaned. Sitting on a sofa, in the daytime, feels like a disgrace.
I heard Moses crying softly from his room down the hall at 5 a.m., something I was never able to hear previously. I have forgotten what it’s like to hear on my own. Still, I am much more hesitant to declare victory. I sensed this initial success last time, too, and then it faded, drawing me back to hearing-impaired levels, but I am trying to remain hopeful, in the light, in the new waves of sound.
My desire to host people is as much for the camaraderie and conversation as it is for the excuse to really, deeply clean the house. If I’m being honest, guests and a clean home rank as equal gifts to me.
Gathering Moss, Robin Wall Kimmerer
Draft No. 4, John McPhee