It was the day I knew I was going to have surgery for the second time.  Early June 2004.  That weekend we were going to celebrate a friend’s birthday and the staff I was working on were On Duty that weekend as we had people coming to hold a training (in which we were also joining) at our facility. 

We’d done whatever our morning consisted of–breakfast, clean-up, some sort of meeting, and we had a few minutes of break.  I wandered into my room and decided to check the message on my cell phone.  It was something innocuous like “This is Neurosurgeon#1 and I’d like to schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss your most recent MRI.”  (Because of surgery #1, I did, and do, MRI’s every year.  Not my favorite hour of the year, but a good idea.)  The thing is Neurosurgeon#1 never called.  NEVER.  Unless of course, there was a problem.  And I knew.  In that moment I knew.  Knew that this meant surgery again, knew that this was bad.  And I realized something else.  I didn’t want to tell anyone.  Not yet.

So I didn’t.  I didn’t because it was my friend’s birthday and we were busy that weekend.  That’s what I told myself then.  I told myself that I didn’t want to be a focus of attention that weekend, especially now when it was all speculation.   Really, I think, I just wasn’t ready.  I wanted to live in the life I already had for a few more hours.

That evening, as we met or remet the people who were coming just for the training weekend, we did one of those name-introduction things.  We went around before dinner, introduced ourselves, and said one thing we were grateful for in the last year.  When it was my turn I gave my name and said, truthfully, that the thing I was most grateful for in the last year was good health.

Everyone else in the room knew about surgery #1.  No one else knew about the message from Neurosurgeon#1 that morning. 

This was not a great act of faith.  It was a great act of repentence.  The one thing I had not been grateful enough for during the last year was the health I did have–a little different than it used to be, but health.

That story has been on my mind a lot today.  In part because this is one of the first days when I really feel fine.  I can still tell that I had brain surgery 14 days ago, but I really feel pretty good.  The pain is down to a level I can almost ignore and is mostly because it takes awhile for a body to knit itself back together.  I’m up and moving around.  I’m thinking at nearly a normal level for me.  I’m doing pretty well.  A couple continuous days of this and I’ll start calling myself healthy again.

And I’m still not sure I’m grateful enough for that health.