Facing My Fear: Emergency Surgery & No Hand To Hold
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February 08, 2017

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A simple “pain in the neck” turned into mildly emergency surgery. What started with the smaller of my two dogs finding her warm place under my pillow as I slept, left me with a crick in my neck… days turned to weeks, and like many single moms, and typical to my usual history of being slow to care for myself, I took my sweet time heading to the doctor.

X-Ray, MRI, Pain pills, pain shots took their toll on my newly loaded FSA card, only to be told what I secretly knew; this was not going away without surgical intervention.

One of my greatest fears since my divorce had reared its really, really, ugly head. I was sick and alone. Manifestations of my fears had me projecting images of myself as a crippled bag lady, alone on a street corner.

I was alone. I had no husband. I avoided telling my ex-husband for a while. I dreaded his input and inevitable “take-over” instinct. I no longer wanted (or needed) his assistance. (At least I hoped I would not need to ask his help.

I had no husband to discuss the dangers of spinal surgery. Sure, I have my kids, but it just isn’t the same. No one wants to scare their children with notions of parental mortality or instill the fear that they will end up as I did, caring for a sick parent.

So, I suffered silently, trying everything I could to avoid surgery. No go. I was warned that unless I wanted to walk with a cane forever or wear diapers as an adult, I needed to fix my spine and the tiny web of nerves that controlled all the dignity bearing activities such as walking on my own and taking myself to the bathroom.

I made that biggest of decisions alone. I cried when no one was looking. I put on The Way We Were to give myself a reason to cry when my kids were watching.  I worked on learning to trust my own decisions and abilities to capture the best information out there.

There was no partner’s hand to hold, just the needy hands of my children, not knowing how to deal with the shock of what might happen in the future.

My eldest signed all the necessary papers. He was my emergency contact. He proudly, though fearfully accepted that responsibility. I hated to ask, but I needed my closest living relative. I had no husband. Insert sad emoji.

I made it through, only a little worse for the wear. Lots of healing to go, and lots of physical therapy, along with lots of time on my back to think about the choices I have made.

So far, I have decided that, despite my fear, I would not change a thing. I would not stay with a man who threatened or hurt me, to avoid being alone. I managed. I put on those big girl panties and found my way to make the decision of my life.  I did my research and found my surgeon. I managed my pain meds and called in favors from friends to help with the driving. What I could not delegate, I paid professionals to complete.

I don’t need a man. I don’t need someone to make big decisions for me. A strong hand to hold would have been nice, but it is like the dessert at the end of the meal. It is not necessary, though it is enjoyable if it is a good quality dessert. I’ll pass on the generic flavored gelatin. I have had too much of that in my life.

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