Nine days ago I went into my first ever surgery. While minor, I was still nervous, like peed six times before they gave me the good drugs nervous. Something about losing time with anesthesia really bothered me.
I'm home, mostly in my bed, for the last nine days. I'm lying. Today, I'm on my couch. The doctor told me the recovery for a tonsillectomy for an adult was rough. He definitely downplayed "rough." Last Thursday, four days after the surgery, I went back to his office convinced I'd developed an infection because my neck was so swollen my jaw line was almost gone, and the pain so bad it brought tears to my eyes. He told me I needed to be tough and this was normal. I cried in his office.
I find this word interesting because for a large part of my life people around me have used this word to describe me. I'm not sure what makes someone tough. Because I often cry. In fact, I cry for almost each of my emotions. Happy cry, angry cry, sad cry, I do them. So what makes someone tough?
As I've been slowly healing, I don't feel tough. I feel pain. I feel a burning pain each time I try to swallow. More than a few times, I thought I wouldn't be able to swallow. I felt like I would die. Literally. I felt like I was going to suffocate because I couldn't will the muscles in my throat to contract. When they finally did, the burning pain started in my throat radiated up into my ears and more than once brought tears to my eyes.
Is that tough?
Part of me wants to laugh at how silly it sounds. Why is a surgery that children often get so painful for an adult? But then I get a twinge of pain as I try to swallow cold water through a straw. So, I'm trying to be tough as I spoon baby food into my mouth. I'm trying to be tough when I go to bed with an ice pack on my neck.
Next month, when I can finally eat solids, and this will be a long-ago memory, I will be glad the tonsils were taken out. I'll be glad that our bodies aren't capable of remembering pain. I'll be glad I can hold a conversation for longer than a few minutes before my tongue starts to ache. And I'll say, yeah, "Fuck, tough."