Healthy Choices ...
I am an in-betweener.
I believe the body has an amazing capacity for healing itself, if only we would let it, if only we would tap into the pathways that enable our body to help itself, optimally.
I also believe that there are times when we have done such damage to ourselves, perpetrated such abuse on our bodies, that the body says, "Oh, for the love of God. Even *I* can't make *this* better."
And that's when we need doctors.
My father had surgery last night. He was supposed to have surgery on Monday morning, but this was to be a colon resection, and, uh, the site wasn't clean, if you know what I mean. So his surgery was rescheduled for Tuesday. Dad wasn't thrilled, but his surgeon said, "This isn't an emergency procedure. Let's take one more day and you'll heal better later." Sounded good to mom and me.
So Tuesday arrived and I got to the hospital in the afternoon and mom said, "Did you get my message?"
Surgery was rescheduled for Wednesday. This time because dad's potassium was too low. Crazy-important stuff, potassium. People don't think about it, but it helps regulate your heart, so, since dad's a heart patient and since he was going to be under anesthesia for at least four hours, his potassium needed to come up.
Yesterday, Wednesday, we waited around. Potassium eventually came up to where it needed to be, but by the time the lab gave the all-clear on that front, dad's surgeon had a couple procedures stacked up, and dad's became the last surgery of the day, for his surgeon, at least.
His procedure started around 8:30 last night. He was on his way to ICU about 1 a.m., partly a function of the recovery room being closed at that hour, and partly a function of his status as a cardiac patient. The need to watch him closely is greater.
Mom and I talked to his surgeon as he was taken up to his room. The procedure went well. He removed twice as much colon as he planned on (about two feet), and took out dad's appendix, as long as they were in there. His recovery will be similar to when he had his triple bypass. But this time, unlike when he had his heart surgery, he's in for a fair amount of pain.
My father is the kind of guy who doesn't get novocaine at the dentist. But I guess when you have someone slice you open, take out your organs, whack off a chunk, stuff it all back inside, and sew you back up, you're in for a few twinges.
Upstairs, Melody, his ICU nurse, let us in to see him about 1:15 a.m. He kept gesturing to his abdomen. "Pain," he'd say, behind his oxygen mask, his breath causing it to fog each time. "Pain."
He vowed, Tuesday night when I went to see him at the end of visiting hours, that he's going to change his diet from now on. We talked about how we demand far too much of our bodies, cramming them full of red meat and saturated fat. Food is fuel and we're pouring sugar in the gas tank.
"Those steak houses," I said, "The ones where if you can eat the 64-ounce steak, you get it for free? What is that? Our stomach is just bigger than the size of our fist. You can't fit four pounds of meat in there. But we do."
And then we have dessert.
Of course, we're all prone to lapses. Cheeseburgers taste good, dammit! But as long as, overall, we trend toward health, we're doing ourselves an enormous favor. Which isn't really a favor. It's just what we should do.
We really are miraculous machines. Yet we take better care of our cars.
Eat a salad today.
Dressing on the side.