Dolor me cura

Last Monday, October 3rd, I woke up around 5:15 in the morning and began to make my way to the hospital.  No, I was not experiencing an emergency – I was scheduled for surgery that morning.  You see, in the past year I turned my right ankle three times.  Once last May working on a show at the theatre, once in August carrying my laundry (which was actually the worst injury, methinks), and once this June working on another show (exactly a week after I got engaged).  This last time around I decided to visit an orthopedic doctor and get an MRI done, just to check things out.  It wasn’t doing to hot, and I was getting tired of not being able to run or even walk well.

It turns out that I had torn a ligament, and was told that I would need to have surgery to replace it.  Immediately I was very anxious.  I have never had surgery of that sort before.  I had my wisdom teeth taken out, but that was not as invasive.  I also had a very busy month coming up in September: A trip to New Jersey to visit my fiance’s family, a show to stage manage, my birthday, a retreat weekend for engaged couples, and my confirmation on the 30th.  So, I decided to schedule the surgery for the first part of October, hoping that I would not injure my ankle further during all of my busyness.

I made it through the busy month of September unscathed, and October was here.  Once I was finally in the hospital, I felt very calm.  I knew that I had reached the point of no return, and that worrying would get me nowhere.  My fiance and his father (who is also my priest) were with me, and I knew many people who were praying for me.

The surgery went very well; no complications whatsoever.  In fact, once my ankle was opened the doctor noticed I just needed two ligaments repaired, so he did not have to use a cadaver ligament to replace mine.

And now here I am, sitting around the house convalescing.  While doing so, I started thinking about the idea of surgery.  It hurts.  It hurts much more than I think I could explain.  Doctors like to ask about your pain on a 1-10 scale.  That Monday night at 2:00 am I woke up in excruciating pain.  The pain block they had given me before the surgery had worn off, and it seems the medication they prescribed me was not working.  I would say my pain was at a 10 for the rest of the night.  I kept taking my pain medication as prescribed, but it was no help.  The pain level stayed in the 9-10-11 range for most of the day on Tuesday until the doctor prescribed a more powerful medication.  I took that around 1:30 pm and waited for it to kick in.  Count that up: Pretty much 12 hours of the worst physical pain I think I have ever experienced.  It was highly unpleasant.

While going through this, and later as I contemplated it, I was struck by the fact that surgery is technically injury.  While it was done in a hospital under the careful observation of medical staff, the bottom line is that my ankle was cut open and a part of me was moved around and poked.  My body was technically going through trauma.  Trauma to heal.  It seems like an oxymoron.

I recognize that this is the way life is.  In July I did a painting.  I used different shades of reds and browns, and black.  The feeling I had was one of pain, of suffering.  I like to paint.  I do not consider myself an artist, really.  I am just the artistic type who loves the cathartic nature of flinging some paint onto a canvas.  In the end, I did feel better.  I felt a sense of suffering being useful.  The title of that painting is the same as the title of this post: “Dolor me cura”.  In English this translates to “Pain heals me”.  This is shown quite physically through my surgery.  The surgery itself was a form of pain.  The PT will be difficult; trying to bear weight and learn to walk again will be a form of suffering.  And yet I will come out stronger on the other end.

I can think of many times in my life where my discomfort was great.  Grief and pain have been at the 11 level at times.  And yet, through my suffering I was learning.  Growing.  Healing.  Pain/grief/suffering/hard times/sadness – it cures me.  It heals me.  It strengthens me.  It is so disheartening and terrible while you are experiencing it.  In the end, I truly believe that it will heal and help you.  Thanks be to God.

the painting mentioned

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