I am recovering from surgery and have noticed an interesting phenomenon. Everything is about me.
When you are uncomfortable, your world shrinks until it encompasses only the things that have a direct impact on how you feel. Yard work? Not important. Ice in the soda glass? Extremely important. Email? Not a big deal. Access to the remote? Critical.
I can only equate the feeling to one of the times as a midshipman when I got seasick. At sea for the first time on a destroyer (or anywhere else, for that matter), I found myself in the berthing compartment with no knowledge of (a) how to get topside, and (b) what I could vomit into if I didn’t make it there.
The ship could have gone to General Quarters and I would have ignored it, because the only thing that was important to me was whatever would make the icky feeling go away.
Later, leaning on the railing with a hat full of that morning’s breakfast, I threw the entire hat overboard. I did not care that it was brand new and that I had no replacement. It did not matter. What mattered was getting it out of my life.
I also apparently did not care that there were two Sailors downwind of me when I threw it away.
What is interesting in this particular story is that what had been making me feel bad was not only gone, it had been transferred to those two guys (who, by the way, had been laughing at me just moments before).
Suddenly, their world – and their attention – had compressed into a very small space. They cared about little else than their uniforms and what was on them, thanks to the nauseous midshipmen just upwind. Their larger view on life had in turn transported over to me, including the mocking smile. I was no longer uncomfortable and as a bonus, justice had been served.
So from my perspective, being in some sort of medical recovery – like being seasick – is an all-consuming experience for those going through it. I could tell you more about how my life has been affected, or what it is like to do physical therapy, but I will spare you the details.
I don’t want to make this all about me.