What Did I Say?
When I woke up from surgery, I tried to figure out why the last thing I recalled was me telling the anesthesiologist that I’d had to put my horse down recently. Apparently, I didn’t think he’d understood the gravity of this statement because I remember emphatically telling him her age and finishing off with, “I’d had her almost my whole life, you know, almost my WHOLE life.”
“I can appreciate that,” he’d responded sympathetically. “I had to put my 12 year old dog down 2 days ago.”
At this point I leaned up on one elbow (the one that had already been tucked into some kind of a sheet pocket to keep me from moving), looked over my shoulder, and said with what I felt like was a lot of concern but probably sounded more like someone who was intoxicated, “I am SO sorry. That is REALLY HARD.”
A nurse was anxiously plucking at me and motioning for me to lie back down, and that was it. My next moment of consciousness would be of me sitting in a wheel chair and feeling very wobbly.
What I kept trying to figure out was why I’d told him about my horse in the first place. Didn’t seem like the conversation had led up to it; I’d just blurted it out.
Of course I’d spent a fair amount of time worrying about what I might say during surgery and for good cause.
Years ago when my brother Leigh was a teenager, he spent a couple summers working on my grandparents’ farm. In the course of his work, he managed to get a shard of metal stuck in his eye which required emergency surgery. As he came out of the operation, the nurses wouldn’t let our grandma in the room.
“You were swearing like a sailor,” they told Leigh, “and we didn’t want your sweet grandmother to hear those words.”
Profanity was absolutely forbidden in our family, and it seems like Leigh’s subconscious used this unique opportunity to try out every bad word he’d ever heard.
To add to my anxiety, a close friend called me up two days before my surgery and related this treasure. “I guess I was really chatty during that operation I had a few months ago,” she told me. “I dreamt I heard voices; so afterwards I asked the nurses about it. They said, ‘Oh, you talked the whole time.’”
“Uh oh,” I said.
“It seemed like it would be hard for the doctor to work on my face if I was talking,” she continued. “So I apologized to him at the follow-up appointment, and he turned beet red.”
“Oh dear,” I responded.
“I k-n-o-w,” she said. “When I had to have the next surgery, I worried about it for days.”
So as I anticipated my surgery, I wondered about words I’ve heard – words I’d never even wanted to hear? What if I started shouting them out?
I decided to employ one of my favorite Scripture verses, one that has helped me through a whole lot of situations. “Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8
You know, you can’t go wrong using this strategy. When you hit your thumb with a hammer, rear end the car in front of you, or break your favorite dish, if you’ve only thought on true, noble, just, pure, lovely, favorable, virtuous and praiseworthy things, whatever comes out of your mouth is going to be ok.
I don’t understand what happens to a person’s brain when it is poisoned with anesthesia, but I’d like to think that my mind wanted to keep dwelling on a nice clean subject – even if it was dead animals.