When Surgery is a Blessing

My arm is in a sling. I can’t use it. I can’t drive anywhere. I can’t wash the dishes. Cutting up food is out. I can only eat things that can be prepared and consumed single-handedly. I can’t even shave properly. And don’t ask me about showering and toileting.

I’ve been typing all week with one hand. The novelty is now wearing off. I’m writing this blog by dictating to my Word document through voice recognition. Yay technology! It’s giving my good hand a well-earned break, but I have to admit, it’s a little tiring having to dictate all the punctuation too, and go back and fix the little mistakes. I’ll get there, it’s just taking a lot longer than usual.

And yet, I’m feeling blessed.

Yet, I’m feeling blessed.

Why, I hear you ask? That’s a fair question. Because the problem I was having with my arm has just been fixed with surgery. Not only that, but when I first began to have symptoms, the very first scan picked up the problem. Amazing.

What’s so amazing about that? Another fair question.

Because when you are living with chronic illness, you get used to having medical symptoms with no explanations. They don’t show up on scans. The tests come back normal. Doctors murmur unhelpful remarks about you having to learn to live with it. They don’t understand your illness, and it becomes painfully apparent they have no idea how to treat it.

When you live with chronic illness, you get used to medical symptoms with no explanations.

At least, this has been my lived experience of chronic illness. 

This has happened so often that I have stopped expecting answers from doctors. When they send me for yet another test, I comply, fully expecting the results to come back normal. When I go back to the doctor for the results, the first thing I say is, ‘Let me guess. Everything’s normal?’ And I’m usually right.

So you can imagine my utter surprise and delight when I recently had my arm scanned, and the report showed a very clear and unmistakable problem. I nearly did a happy dance. ‘Oh my goodness, something actually showed up on the test! Can you believe it?’ It may sound strange that I was so stoked to find out I had a problem. But honestly, I am so accustomed to hearing my symptoms have no medical explanation. Finding a medical explanation was frankly a breath of fresh air.

I nearly did a happy dance.

It gets better. I saw a physio who immediately recommended a surgical consult. I saw a surgeon who immediately recommended surgery. Boom. No faffing. No indecision. No trying different home remedies or waiting for months to see if things got better on their own. They found the problem and went straight to the solution.

Again, this is a rare occurrence for me. And such a blessing.

So yes, my arm is now in a sling. Yes, I am limited in my daily functioning, at least for now. Yes, I get tired of typing with one hand and look forward to the day when my arm is freed from its slingular prison. But I am also grateful to have received such an immediate answer to my problem, and to have been treated so well and so swiftly by a capable surgeon.

I am grateful to have received an immediate answer to my problem.

Surgery is not everyone’s best-case scenario. It’s certainly not everyone’s idea of a fun day out. But for me, the surgery has come at the right time. It has been a blessing, an answer to prayer, and a breath of fresh air.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to go and fix myself a one-handed meal.

Do you live with chronic illness? Have you ever had a time when a medical problem was solved quickly and efficiently? How did you respond to that? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation.

2 thoughts on “When Surgery is a Blessing

  1. Yay, that’s awesome news Steph, to get answers and the surgery needed.

    I do relate to living in that limbo land of being really unwell without any new answers.
    I had dental surgery for what turned out to be a tooth abscess spreading nasty infection into my jaw and neck, just before Easter. It was very unpleasant at the time, but so relieved they worked out the problem and pulled out the tooth! I no longer look like a swollen puffa fish (ha ha), jaw and neck pain has settled, only tooth sensitivity now.
    Continue to heal well and lots of self care and spoiling yourself needed!!
    Regards Ros x

    • Thank you Ros! Sorry to hear of your horrible tooth infection, dental pain is the absolute worst! Glad you are on the mend too. Self-care all round!

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