Before surgery I read up on painkillers. Bottom line, I was grateful that options existed and realistic about accepting possible reactions. Jimmy John’s sandwiches were never mentioned in that patient information.
My first night post-operative I looked around my room, stared into what I thought was a giant security television screen (aka a dark window), pulled together all the visual clues available, and determined that there was a sizeable Jimmy John’s sandwich party happening across the hall. Giant carts of food appeared to be going into a room with people following. I thought I saw, or heard, that the party was in honor of my surgeon.
Not eating in the prior thirty hours made a sandwich appealing. I think I’ve only eaten a Jimmy John’s tuna salad special at a corporate lunch meeting. I remember because I was the last person choosing a box. Tuna salad, tuna salad, tuna salad. Three boxes of the same choice. The only decision was if I was hungry enough to eat a Jimmy John’s tuna salad sandwich.
According to hospital people watching me that night, I decided I needed to freshen up before heading to the party and attempted to get out of bed dragging tubes and lines and monitors. I asked for a clean gown, something less revealing, and my personal bag so I could brush my hair, wash my face, and find my undies. I was ready to socialize. Maybe celebrate that surgery was over, chat about the joy of warm blankets, or share escape plans.
What’s fascinating is how in a somewhat dark situation, something deep in my mind took stock of what it could observe and found the potential for a few minutes of joy as well as the possibility of grabbing a sandwich, maybe a cold soda, and a little time to chit chat with absolute strangers. I am an introvert, and not fond of fast foot sandwiches on small loaves of bread. In normal times I would need a serious reason to head into a room of strangers, especially if wearing a lousy hospital gown. But that night a party sounded awesome.
Physicians have known since Plato that there is a direct correlation between the mind, body and health. The psychological and physical are not separate but are vitally linked in healing the body. When the painkillers were not taking care of what my body was experiencing, my simple belief is that my mind accepted responsibility for creating a happier framework. In the absence of other stimuli to distract focus from what was hurting, I planned that party room. I made decisions about whether I was ready to have chips (not), if a diet cola or a lemon-lime soft drink would taste better (lemon-lime), how to blend in with all the people in uniforms or street clothes (unresolved). My problem solving and creativity pulled me through a night that could have been worse.
This is the power of human vitality. We can live, grow, develop in many situations, not only on sunny days but also during threatening storms. Be gentle with your expectations if this is not a time to go for the stars. Share a Jimmy John’s with a friend. Enjoy a mini party, if only in your mind. Wear a robe if your gown hangs open in the back.