"Being alone and liking it is, for a woman, an act of treachery, an infidelity far more threatening than adultery." – Molly Haskell

I have hand surgery scheduled for next week. Due to a number of circumstances, it’s quite possible I will go alone. Yes, there is anesthesia involved and it’s likely I cannot drive myself home.  I live near a somewhat major city. If I am unable to have someone pick me up, I can catch a cab.

This doesn’t bother me. 

When I relayed this to my admin today she was horrified.

“OMG! You will be alone. No one will go with you? That’s terrible!” she screeched.

It is?

I don’t think so. Should I?

It’s a relatively minor surgery. I don’t expect complications or being in overnight. It is outpatient. While it’s true I do have bad reactions to anesthesia, I have been told I will be in recovery for at least 4 hours. I am confident they are not going to let me go if I my wits are not about me.

But her screech gave me pause.  As I meandered back to my desk reviewing the latest communication memo from corporate, it struck me why I am the way I am in relation to major medical issues.

At 18 years old, I gave birth — alone. I was in the company of complete strangers. I had little to no preparation as to what would happen (particularly if something went terribly wrong).  I have since conditioned myself to believe it is acceptable – normal in fact – to have major medical problems and to have them alone.  You mean people support you and care about you when you have medical problems? People actually help you when you have been drugged and undergone physical trauma? How come no one told me that when I hallucinated from Demerol at my daughters birth? How come no one cared when I stumbled about after my episiotomy?  (They did not acknowledge I had a child. Do you really think they are going to acknowledge I was cut down THERE?)

I had my first child – alone. I surrendered my first child – alone. I had no legal guidance, I had no one concerned for my welfare – legal rights or physical. Why should minor hand surgery be any different?

This really seems normal to me.  Well, maybe not normal but is certainly acceptable. It was then. Why should it be different now?

The challenge comes in when other people are involved.

Would I let my children have surgery alone? Good golly. No way.  I am there comforting, assuring, managing every detail.

But, I must admit, I applied the standards that were applied to me to my husband. Years ago, I was scheduled to fly out on business. Husband was in the midst of a kidney stone attack. His mother was visiting. She was helping him with the kids (unrelated to the attack) while I was gone.  The morning I left to fly out, he was in massive pain from the attack. I left.

I figured his mother was there. She could watch the kids. He could take himself to the hospital (or she could) if need be. I had business to attend to.

It seems horrible now. Cold. Insensitive but it makes sense. What is that phrase? Do unto others? I was acting the way I had been taught.

If I could have a child alone, one thousand miles from home, surrounded by stranger, surely he could handle a few stones that needed passing, in his home town with his mother around?

I think I owe him an apology.

3 Thoughts.

  1. ((((SUZ)))))
    Don’t go alone.
    You should NEVER have been alone when you were 18 and giving birth either. My heart breaks for that 18 year old girl you were, who should not have been alone.
    I have had some pretty big medical procedures in which I either went alone or tried to go alone. I’ve had nurses tell me that I couldn’t be signed in unless I had someone with me. Your post has me wondering myself why I often chose to go alone. Maybe it is because I feel like I’ve lived my life alone. I’m more comfortable driving nauseous, or with a friend waiting for me than I am with my parents waiting for me.

  2. Kidney stones suck. That said: you can’t help anyone pass a stone unless you’re a doctor. You can’t reach your hand up in there and pull them out, though at some point, the one suffering the attack might find that to be a good alternative. That said, when I had mine, I didn’t want to be touched. I didn’t want to be looked at. I didn’t want anyone. In the room. Breathing my air. Is your Husband like that? Some people are when it comes to pain/etc. Maybe you are as well. I feel guilt in your words at the end. And I want to send some hugs.

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