Tomorrow is the one month anniversary of my bowel resection surgery (check the Some Context page if you don’t know what I’m talking about). I lost 18 inches off my large intestine and 6 inches off my small. That’s a lot of guts to lose! Aside from a tonsillectomy about 35 years ago (which I barely remember), this was my first significant medical procedure, and it’s come to my attention that I was wildly unprepared for the experience of recovery. Overnight, so many simple tasks that I took for granted became impossible or painfully difficult. For me, it’s these tasks that have become, in part, the measure of my recovery.
One of those simple tasks is putting on my socks. Since the surgery, I’ve had to change the way I do it. Back in the day, I simply sat down, brought my knee up to my chest and pulled my sock on. I’ve still been able to do this on my left foot, since the surgery was all on the right side of my abdomen, but the right foot’s been a little trickier, involving a variety of awkward solutions. Bending all the way over, or bringing my right knee up to my chest caused pressure on the new surgical junction and was unbearably uncomfortable. Something magical happened today though. For the first time in a month, I was able to put my right sock on normally. I definitely felt some pressure, and even mild discomfort as I brought my knee up, but it wasn’t *painful*.
On the face of it, it’s a pretty minor victory, but there’s something greater at play here. I think this really goes to one of the Great Lessons that I have an opportunity to learn here. I’m realizing that I have always approached personal growth as a cataclysmic process. I’m speaking in the geological sense here, which is to say that I wanted (and continue to want) change to be an EVENT rather than a PROCESS. Event-based change is quick, tidy and easy to understand. Something happens (a tragedy, a lesson, a windfall, whatever), and one incorporates that change into their life, which is forever changed as a result. I like this. But I also no longer believe that it works this way. My lesson for today: Lasting, significant growth can only come about as a result of process. While it may be that sometimes that process is initiated by a cataclysmic event (a life-changing surgery and diagnosis, for example), it’s the process following the event that creates the resulting change. And process is slow. Process is measured. Process is incremental. Process is feeling pleased about how you are able to put your socks on in the morning.