Posted by: joha5 | September 27, 2010

Thoughts on Surgery and Why I Should Be More Afraid of Donkeys

Finding out that you need to undergo a surgical procedure is a lot like being forced to go to a family reunion when you are a kid: you are anxious before you go, it’s painful and awkward when you get there, it takes you a while to recover, but you always feel better for it after it is over.  This is how I felt on Friday after finding out that I need to have surgery in a couple of weeks. 

The surgical procedure I will undergo is a minor operation to fix my deviated septum.  The septum is the bone and cartilage in the nose that separates the two nostrils.  Mine is skewed to the left – kind of like me (!!) – and thereby causes breathing difficulties and a host of other problems.  Thus, it needs fixing.  And, unfortunately, the only way to fix it permanently is through surgery.

I know this is 'safe' but I can't help but feel a little uneasy about being on the table under the gas while all of this is going on around me.

I must be honest and say that I am not thrilled at the notion of being gassed, having a knife shoved up my nostrils, and then having the doctors physically force my septum over a few millimeters into its correct position.  In fact, it makes me nauseous even thinking about it.  However, my nose has become such a problem on a daily basis that I also can’t help but feel some sort of excitement and relief for the process to be over and for me to – hopefully – be able to breathe like a normal person again. 

It’s a very strange dichotomy and one that I will struggle with for the next couple of weeks as I prepare for operation day.  In reality, there is really nothing to worry about and, theoretically speaking, I know this.  It is not an emergency.  I have one of the best Ear, Nose, and Throat doctors in the D.C. metropolitan area performing the surgery.  I will be under the gas the entire time.  There will be no scarring at all.  The swelling is supposedly very limited if there is any at all.  And if there is any lingering pain in the days or weeks after the surgery I will obviously have a plethora of painkillers at my disposal to reduce any discomfort that I may have.  Basically, this whole thing is not a huge deal.  However, even though I know it won’t be a big deal it certainly feels like one. 

For the next couple of weeks I will have moments of stress, concern, and anxiety over what could happen to my poor septum.  WIll there be any mistakes?  Will my nose be as good as new?  Will I recover as well as they say I will?  What if they discover it is much worse once they get in there?  I know these are stupid questions and, all things considered, this is the most minor of surgeries.  But it will still cause me stress until I awake from my gassy slumber after the procedure is over and done with.

This is actually not my first time at the surgical rodeo.  I have had a couple of surgeries before.  One for my appendix that exploded when I was 11 years old and another for my wisdom teeth, one of which was impacted.  From my previous experience I can say with conviction that surgery is intimidating.  The miracle of modern medicine ensures that my surgery will go over exactly as planned with the most miniscule potential of anything going wrong.  That fact alone is actually quite incredible.  Yet it doesn’t stop me from worrying.  It is exactly the same as other types of fear.  Everybody knows – for example – that thousands more people actually die in auto accidents every year than die in plane crashes.  And some of you may have even heard the old fact that statistically you are more likely to be killed by a donkey than you are in a plane crash.  I don’t know who is getting killed by donkeys but I bet if you googled it you would see that this is probably true.  Therefore, rationally speaking, I should be more afraid of donkeys than I am airplanes.  But I’m not.  To be fair, I’m not scared of flying either but I do get that occasional moment when there is prolonged turbulence when my heart beats at a million miles a minute, sweat beads form, and I start to panic like I have never panicked before.  Then, all of a sudden the plane goes back to normal and I can breathe again. 

Statistically speaking, I have more to fear from this guy than I do going under the knife to have my deviant of a septum fixed in a couple of weeks.

This is why I anticipate the buildup to my surgery to be just like a transatlantic plane ride.  Most of the time I will feel fine and comfortable and the only thing that will be on my mind is my destination.  However, there will be the occasional moment of sustained turbulence when all I will be able to think about is how will I ever make it through.  Yet I will know in my head that there is no way out.  I just have to trust in the system and put my faith in the people who know what they are doing.  And besides, trust or not, statistically speaking I am willing to take my chances…

…just as long as there aren’t any donkeys around.



  1. I will never go near a donkey again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: