The Joy of Elective Surgery

Let me start by saying it was never about wearing a bikini ever again.

While some go boldly and electively under the knife for, say, bigger, more uplifted boobs, a flatter tummy, or a more bodacious back, I am not that woman. Not that I wouldn’t want any or all of those things, but seriously — who in real life has time for that?

That’s what I told myself anyways, when the doctor said that almost unnoticeable bulge in my belly button was a hernia, and I should really get it fixed.

And that was over a year ago.

What made me change my mind and decide it was time? It certainly wasn’t a little twinge of pain here and there, nor was it the alarming rate that the hernia expanded like a little balloon, turning my former innie belly button into a sprawling outtie.

Parenthood is a battlefield, and while we rush the kiddies to the doc at the first sniffle, we tend to limp, hunch, and shuffle our way through our own aches and pains in order to keep the daily drill running like clockwork. One chink in the armor, and we just know the whole damn infantry will fall to pieces.

But I couldn’t help but worry that what could be a little elective fix might morph into an emergency room drama. Earlier in the summer, my BBF MD came for a visit, and after a couple of drinks, I had her take a look at my hernia. She confirmed my worse fears, that a herniated umbilical cord could screw my system in the blink of an eye (with a piece of intestine or fat getting stuck in it — I know, pretty). Also, speaking of elective surgery and according to my BBF MD, all our body parts age, and plastic surgery isn’t able to keep up with the half of it. (That advice I’ll leave to your fertile imagination….)

And so I found myself back at the belly button doc’s office. “You’re not going to wuss out again, are you?” he asked.

That my doc called me a wuss is fascinating. He thought I was afraid of the surgery itself — HA!

Let’s see, you take a sedative, enjoy a delicious, deep sleep courtesy of anesthesia, and when you wake up, all your friends and family (if you are lucky enough to live around parents or siblings) bring you meals and chip in to shuffle your kids around, tidy up your house, and generally dote on you, while you thank them through a haze of painkillers and chicken soup.

Hullo, pure unadulterated joy!

My wussing out (if you can call it that) coagulated around the aftermath. Because I knew that the hall pass of recuperation normally lasts about a day or two max, and then everyone starts getting antsy. Truth be told, my own housework addiction, formed around bringing order to the chaos of family life, would be hard to keep at bay. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the runaround that would commence long before my sore core could take it. Worst of all, the doc emphatically told me that there would be no lifting of anything over a pound or so for SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS!

Had I been the mother of young children, this would be a problem. But my kids are older, and frankly way overdo to take on some meaty household chores that involve heavy lifting and not just light faux-housekeeping.

Getting my hernia fixed would involve ripping the beard of my lax parenting off: I’d have to take the kiddies to task and finally make them do their own laundry, unload the dishwasher, and help with grocery shopping, including putting it all away.

This is where the pain comes in. It’s work to stay demanding and consistent, and it’s also a struggle for me at least to accept that everyone has their own way of doing things, and I just need to let go and surrender.

And so, with some trepidation, that’s just what I did.

The healing process is already well underway. My husband did laundry duty all weekend, and next weekend we’ve discussed everyone learning how to do his or her own loads.

My son shopped for and made dinner, including homemade salsa and handcrafted burritos with meat that soaked in homemade marinade. (There he has me beat; I’ve never, ever made my own marinade — and I’d like to formally thank The Food Network for all those good male role models/marinade makers they show on our faves like Chopped and Iron Chef.)

My daughter has taken to making her lunch and organizing her stuff for school at night, so she doesn’t have to rush in the morning. (There she has me well beat; this is something I’ve been thinking about doing for years and never seem to get my act together to be so proactive.)

And I’m binging on Orange is the New Black with my BBFs, a show that’s awesome on many points but particularly in that it features a bunch of incarcerated women biding their time in waistless pants, sitting in their own stew, and thinking about ways things will be different when they are back on the other side.

Like my new jailbird virtual BBFs, I am never going back.

So if you see me rocking a bikini and sipping a margarita in six to eight weeks from now, just know that sometimes taking care of business means taking care of yourself. And there’s nothing illegal about that!