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Sera Finally Gets Surgery
26 January 2004

"But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland.  Is it right that you, Okonkwo, should bring your mother a heavy face and refuse to be comforted?"
        --Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Hi Zac!

I worked at mom's on Monday and Tuesday (making my employment there a full two weeks and $530). I'm glad I could help them out at work, but it really confirmed my career choice for me. Although teaching has plenty of bad--no--horrible days, at least it has the potential to be fun fulfilling. Office work is always tediously the same, just with varying levels of wearisome tasks.

On Tuesday night, dad and I went to a panel discussion at Ashland University. They talked on Human Nature and it was really interesting. I liked the political scientists speech the best. He advocated choice and extreme individualism, saying that each person is sovereign and should govern themselves. He kept saying, "Every morning, a person can wake up and choose to think or not to think, to face reality or to avoid it." I felt he was highly optimistic and his argument fell apart under cross examination by the audience afterwards, but I still liked it.

My surgery was on Wednesday, January 21st. In many ways, I enjoyed my surgery since I have never been hospitalized before, never even had stitches. It was interesting to go through the whole process. It was fun being wheeled around the hospital in a bed while the driver called out to the other nurses to move out of the way or get bowled down. When the doors opened to the "SURGERY" section of the hospital, I felt like I was at the beginning of a ride at Cedar Point amusement park where the doors open and you wonder what thrill lies beyond. As I was wheeled into the surgery wing, a lot of the doors to rooms were open, but I was afraid to look anywhere. I imagined seeing severed body parts lying around the floor or pools of blood dripping off the operating tables while stained utensils laid scattered around. Thankfully I didn't see anything, but such were my morbid thoughts on the ride. We stopped outside my designated room and the driver announced my arrival. The guest of honor was now at the party. Then she wheeled me in, and I scooted onto the table. Immediately, the nurses started putting all those round sticky sensor things all over me, while they piled on warm blankets, strapped my IV arm to a board and took my vital signs again. I just remember how nice they all seemed--smiling all the time and making sure I was comfortable while explaining how the anesthesia would work. I don't think I was even nervous, just because I knew I wouldn't feel anything and the surgery wasn't risky and I wasn't in any pain at the time. The last thing I remember was the three nurses standing at my side smiling while someone put the mask on me. One of the nurses said, "Think of a happy thought and have a nice dream…" As the sleep set in, I closed my eyes and thought of you. 

A second later, I became conscience of a mask on my face, light, sound, and a deep pain in my left shoulder. The first thing I felt was relief: they did the surgery, and it was on the correct shoulder. I tried opening my eyes, but everything was so blurry I couldn't really see and my eyelids were entirely too heavy. I could hear things, but it didn't seem like I could speak. I answered their questions in my head, but I just couldn't figure out how to make my voice and mouth work. The first thing I said that I was aware of was, "It hurts." I aimed this at the blue blur that kept appearing with hopes that the blue blur could make it go away. I had expected to awake in some sort of painless drug-induced euphoria, but this was clearly not the case. As someone wheeled me out of the recovery room to my staying room, I started feeling really sick. I gathered all my strength and mental competence just to say, "Vomit!" The nurse heeded the warning, stopped my bed, and assisted in my vomiting. After this, we continued on our merry way through the halls and once in my room I proceeded to vomit two more times. I didn't eat or drink anything all that night.

Mom and Dad came into my room shortly after I arrived there. They told me what Dr. Guth had said about repairing my torn sheath and how I shouldn't move my arm for ten days. All I could think was, "Oh good. There really was something wrong. I didn't go through all this for nothing." My biggest fear prior to surgery was that there wouldn't actually be anything wrong and that it was all in my head. I was really drowsy, so mom and dad left so I could sleep. I woke up every half hour at least, because of all the beeping and such going on in the hospital. I kept an eye on the clock so that when I woke up around 11pm, I turned the TV on to comedy central and caught the Daily Show. Since this was the 21st, the day after the State of the Union, Jon Stewart had a great show giving his rendition and commentary on Bush's speech. The guest was senator John McCain and he had some funny comments about how he was too old to get up and down that many times for the standing ovations. It was a good show, so I timed my hospital stay well.

At one point during the night, a young nurse who came to take my blood pressure asked, almost accusingly, like it was my fault she had to work that night, "What did you do to your shoulder?" I thought for a second, what did I do to it? I turned off a light switch in Africa three months ago. "I dislocated it," was all I said.

When I got home, I mostly slept for the whole weekend. But today is Monday and I got up at 8am and have been thoroughly awake all day! Sera triumphs over the sleep demons!

I hate to talk about the weather, but here I go. We had a lot of good snow this weekend, with really cold temperatures (5-20) so it's the nice powdery kind. It's pretty deep now too, maybe 6 or 7 inches. The lake has been frozen for quite some time, so everywhere I look is white, white, white. It's pretty.

So here it is, the Monday after my surgery and I am not having any luck. I have been calling you relentlessly for the past 4 days, all to no avail. I have spent the past 4 hours trying to get a hold of the Peace Corps and the Namibian Embassy, also all to no avail. I just dial endless numbers and options and extensions and I swear there isn't a real human being anywhere.

I'm trying to chunnel (yes, as in from England to France) all my energy that would be sucked into the black hole that is self-pity and depression into brazenly begging for someone to send me back to Namibia. I've decided to swallow my pride and go back to The Peace Corps with my tail between my legs and see if I can't finagle my way back in, somehow. Same with the Namibian Embassy, minus the swallowing and the tail. I keep having the fear lurking in the back of my mind, "What if I can't go back and teach?" It hovers there, threatening to send me spinning into the abyss, but I just keep telling myself there has to be a way. And so I go through each day, clinging to that one hope.

Again, I'm sorry for not e-mailing you sooner, but I was very busy sleeping these last few days. I hope you don't feel neglected. I think of you every day and I will work on my shoulder diligently to come back as soon as possible.

--sera

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