Now that all the fun FAQs have been addressed (last week’s article), maybe it’s time to go a little deeper. Here are a few more questions I’ve been frequently asked while recovering from bypass surgery:
Were you scared before the surgery? I was more sad than scared. My biological mother died at 44 and my father at 56. I’ve always been stunned at the brevity of their lives. When I personally reached each of their death ages, my birthdays felt like milestones. It was hard to fathom that was all the life they were able to live. Before my surgery, I was not really scared to die. I was sad that I might not be able to live. I truly love life and the adventures each day brings.
Have you experienced depression since your surgery? Some level of depression is very common after heart surgery. I told my primary doctor I felt depressed during the fifth week of recovery. What had happened to me finally hit me. I was haunted by the question, “Has my life been shortened or extended by this diagnosis and event?” My depression was short-lived. It was not a clinical or chemical depression. It was, however, a circumstantial, unfamiliar, dark space. I was able to deal with those days through ‘talk therapy’ with trusted professionals, increased walking, and stationary cycling. I’m pretty sure my drug of choice is exercise, but I would have taken medications, if necessary.
Were there any particular blessings as a result of the surgery? The greatest blessing was getting to know my daughters as adults. No matter how hard we try otherwise, we often continue to see our adult children as children. However, when our children become our caretakers, we engage them differently. Also, when our children see us in our frailty, the conversations become more significant.
Have you sensed an existential shift in your life after this event? No. Most of my existential work has already been done. I know who I am. I live life on my terms. I’m comfortable with my faith and my doubts. I live honestly in the world. I’m happy with who I am and where I am in life.