The Emotions of a Life-Changing Surgery Journey


Surgery. The word can carry significant weight in the life of someone with a chronic medical condition. I now officially have checked surgery number six off my list. My most recent (a rectus femoris transfer, common for those like myself who live with cerebral palsy) was one I elected to have in an attempt to improve my quality of life. In making this decision I was aware of many things I was signing myself up for, but in so many ways I was still unprepared. This surgery journey has quickly earned its place in my life as the most physically demanding I’ve ever had. During the recovery process, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands, and have been pondering exactly what this surgery has encompassed not only physically, but emotionally.

Surgery is complex:

  • It’s being incredibly grateful to be given an opportunity to change your life.
  • It’s making the decision to proceed with hope, all while being fearful the operation will be unsuccessful.
  • It’s trying to remain calm on the outside, but inside feeling the stress of every surrounding detail that needs to be handled.
  • It’s knowing you are about to enter a difficult phase of your life, yet still counting down the days in anticipation.

Surgery is vulnerable:

  • It’s wanting to cower at the sight of an 18-gauge IV needle, but giving them your hand to poke knowing pain relief will soon flow through your veins.
  • It’s desperately craving control as you’re being wheeled into the operating room, all while feeling peace with having no control at all.
  • It’s hating the feeling of exposure as you lay in a hospital bed, but being comforted by the many people who are treating you with kindness and dignity.

Surgery is exhausting

  • It’s arriving home from the hospital and trying to make yourself comfortable, despite a part of your body feeling so unfamiliar.
  • It’s knowing you have to do your physical therapy, but being secretly annoyed at anyone who suggests you move from under your favorite blanket.
  • It’s putting one foot in front of the other, being torn between the idea of pushing yourself a little more or giving in to rest.

Surgery is humbling:

  • It’s respecting your body, being constantly reminded that you cannot rush the healing process.
  • It’s learning to be grateful for every small victory and every bit of love you receive.
  • It’s realizing that no matter how strong-willed you believe yourself to be, you cannot take this journey alone.

Surgery is hopeful

  • It’s the excitement of making progress, each milestone being the ultimate motivation to continue on.
  • It’s becoming more confident each day, loving how you can begin to see changes in your body and soul

And in the end, surgery can bring you full circle. I can’t help but be overwhelmingly grateful that I was given the opportunity to change my life. Yes there has been pain, but with the pain comes many types of progress that has made that pain incredibly meaningful. This journey has allowed me to learn, grow and become the best version of myself — one step at a time.

Getty image by Jacob Lund.


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