I am now 10 days past my total knee replacement. It hasn’t been fun, but it’s been nowhere near as bad as I could have imagined had I allowed myself to linger on the possibilities. The Professor has been a rockstar, and as many of you told me, it gets easier every day. My fear was of things mostly imagined.
But until just now, I had forgotten that wasn’t the case for another guy that day.
There are times when fear is a response to something frightening (being chased by a bear, bitten by a venomous snake, or beaten by thugs). My strategy before surgery – going to the net (facing the challenge assertively in my head, determined to beat it) – may not be so useful in those instances.
I doubt the guy next to me, a heavily guarded prisoner, even tried.
That morning, going to the net made all the difference for me. It helped take control of my emotions and remain relatively calm. I don’t think it would have helped him.
I never saw him, but overheard that his cheekbone was shattered. I never learned how. They were going to have to go in behind his eye to fix it. He had two guards with him, an attending nurse, and another guard was suiting up to go into surgery. I assumed he was a bad dude – all those guards and the male nurse attending him wasn’t particularly friendly.
His coping mechanism to fear and pain was mounting a charm offensive. He was deferential and oh, so apologetic and appreciative to his guards, to the nurses, and to me (the guard held me up as a model patient, pointing out, “SHE isn’t whining”).
Perhaps he was attempting to control the environment around him by being disarming. Perhaps he is the nice guy he seemed that morning. Don’t know.
I also don’t know who thumped the guy or if he deserved it, but he was in significant pain and he was scared. So he talked incessantly. And no matter who he was or what he had done, I felt sorry for him.
He couldn’t get to the net and make his fear and pain more bearable. He had reason to fear. He was in the company of people who weren’t inclined to nurture him. Not his mama or girlfriend, no one was waiting to find out how he did, to bring him home and care for him. He seemed so alone. It was just sad.
So what’s the point? No point, except that anyone so inclined might want to pray for the guy. He’s somebody’s son. He was afraid, and probably deservedly so. No matter the reason he was in prison.
And me? Your prayers have made all the difference. I get around pretty well with my walker and look forward to transitioning to a cane this week. Things are going real swell at work without me. I’m very encouraged and hopeful.
And that guy? His cheekbone will be fixed, but little else will get better. He goes back to prison… But now I’m thinking. If we pray, maybe things do get better. Maybe that’s his hope.