posted March 18, 2018
Watching The Darkest Hour with my mother and Hudson in Couchland

So I had surgery last Monday. For only the second time in my life, I went under general anesthesia. The last thing I remember is being wheeled very rapidly down the corridor by two male nurses. “Wheeeeee!” I remember shouting. It really was fun. The next moment, I was coming to, ready to go home.

What happens in that liminal time is a mystery. One is not quite alive, nor dead. Initially, the feeling was delightful. Only days later did the weight of what happened to my body arrive like a lead blanket. I have been peculiarly detached from my normal concerns. I have not wanted to (or really been able to) exercise or work or do household tasks without feeling repercussions in my body. I have not felt very ambitious about anything at all. Instead, I have sat in Couchland reading my friend Erin’s memoir Given Up for You, Zadie Smith’s NW, and watching The Crown. My parents came to help out, and we got to see The Darkest Hour. I have not followed the news. I have not listened back to the songs I wrote over the weekend at my retreat. I almost forget who I am.

But I have not been sad or depressed. Just detached. I wonder if when one goes under general anesthesia if some essential element of the self does this to protect itself. Kind of like Peter Pan losing his shadow. Maybe I need to find Wendy to sew it back on my feet.

Here’s what I have learned this week:

  1. There is a wisdom, a guidance deep within your own soul, and in the end only it can guide you. The clamors, the clutter, the clatter of the world need to be gently ignored, pushed aside or rudely evicted (at times) in order to hear the real Voice.
  2. Apple cider vinegar is truly remarkable at curing almost anything that ails you. Drink a shot of it in warm water first thing in the morning, with or without local honey.
  3. I was right to get Hudson.
  4. Sometimes one needs to be alone with God/The Voice. But the loop needs completion in communion with other people. So there is no static. There is always a give and take, an in-breathe/out-breathe.
  5. The etymology of the word “comprehend” comes from the Latin com-(together) and prendere (to grasp).
  6. Erin and Abigail were right to tell me to watch The Crown. Did I mention I really want to go back to London?
  7. When my parents come to visit, my central nervous system settles in a way it never does otherwise. When they leave, I feel a grief so vast and ancient that no amount of distraction can lift it.
  8. Zadie Smith is a genius. I should not compare myself to her. No one should ever have to compare oneself to her.
  9. I am an impatient patient, even when my soul is hovering a few feet away from my body. Perhaps especially when…
  10. Eating seaweed is good for post-surgical recovery.

Upon re-reading this, I don’t think it’s the soul that detaches. The soul is intact. It’s my ambition that is sitting somewhere across the room, perhaps on the opposite couch with its arms folded, just regarding me with a hint of confusion and resentment.

The Comments

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  1. I’m sending lots of healing energy your way, Nerissa!

    Also send very gentle hugs that avoid the tender area…


  2. Having been through 2 breast cancer surgeries back to back in the fall I can say that yes, detached is the perfect word for what you’re feeling. Anesthesia and surgery are horrible assaults on our bodies and I think our minds just need to go somewhere else to help the healing process. And then when your mind comes back, it’s as if it never left at all. I’m sending you peace and light and all kinds of healing thoughts and gentle hugs for your recovery!

  3. What happens in that liminal time is indeed a mystery. Been there on several occasions over the years. Not sure how we solve the mystery. Better, perhaps, that we don’t.

    Heal well and fast, Nerissa. Sending positive vibes.

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