Kgomotso Matsunyane

Emotional surgery

2008-06-12 09:30

Kgomotso Matsunyane

I took some time off to have an "elective" surgery that I've been trying to avoid for some time. The idea of being put under, sliced open like a fillet, and having a part of you removed is scary enough for all of us that we'd rather avoid it. But sometimes, one just has to bite the bullet and put your life in another's hands.

Trust me when I tell you that you don't want all the gory details, all I can say is that I'm in no hurry to go back to hospital. First, thank God I have medical aid and could afford to choose my own doctor and hospital, albeit at a seriously overpriced monthly premium.

There seems to be something quite perverse that something like health has become a class issue - no money, less and inferior treatment. Call me nuts, but I think health should be a right for all, not a privilege. If all humans are equal, then surely we deserve equal access to good health. But of course, Orwell style, reality continues to demonstrate that some are more equal than others.

My biggest "incentive" to go on medical leave seemed a bit sad and pathetic, but I'll share it anyway. I was actually looking forward to not having any responsibilities - professional and social - for a whole two weeks. I think it's sad because it indicates that I'm feeling a bit stretched in all those departments and that I'm not feeling like I'm having enough down time.

Some feel that we have too many public holidays, but I really don't share that sentiment, and I'm self-employed. Every public holiday that comes gives me the opportunity to take a much-needed break from chasing the buck. Maybe it's because for me work never stops when I get home, and that my partners and I find ourselves working through many evenings and weekend.

Divesting from life

The best thing about being in convalescence is that it gives us permission to divest from life, even if it's just for a little while. Typically I run my life with confidence and strength, but put a couple of tubes up my arm and I was like putty in an artist' hands. I felt quite helpless, and it's a feeling I would prefer not repeat anytime soon, the universe willing and all.

The artists whose mercy I was under were the nurses and doctors who had to take care of me, and to say I was grateful for their competence would be a gross understatement. One hears so many horror stories about hospitals, but the truth is we don't hear enough about the vast majority of successful, positive, every day cases. I wish we did, because it would have allayed much of my anxiety going in.

What I didn't anticipate was the emotional surgery that I would go through. I had enough time to take stock of my so-called life and really assess the direction in which I'm headed. I came up with whole strategies about how to move my business into another stratosphere; and a couple of "friends" have come down a notch to being "acquaintances" instead.

But while I had optimistic visions about having to take really nice drugs and having all my needs and whims catered to, it didn't quite work that way. What Einstein here hadn't figured out, is that it's actually a terrible feeling to be sick, so all those "extras" I fantasised about were actually just the basics in trying to help me feel normal again.

So this also got me thinking, what about people who have chronic illnesses and are therefore sick all the time? I was complaining about three days in hospital, but really, thus far I've been the picture of health, and I'm not nearly grateful enough for it.

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