Pain: Past, Present and Future

Today I learned:

1. Pain – Past and Present:  When it comes to my stance on crime, I don’t consider myself an eye for an eye type of guy. I talk tough at times, but in reality my views are relatively liberal. Knowing this, I was surprised at my own reaction today when I read about the first sentence handed down to a 2011 Stanley Cup rioter. 17 months for the offender.

My immediate emotions?

I was happy he received a lengthy punishment, and admittedly a bit disappointed he didn’t get more time. I immediately put myself in the judge’s shoes and concluded I would have been pleased to have a chance to throw the book at him.

This made me reflect back on my thoughts during the riot.  It was utterly painful to watch. After watching my favorite team suffer a tough loss, the sight of smoke over downtown made me feel even worse for my city. I was angry and embarrassed. I was hurt. While watching the events of the evening I tweeted this message:

The pain didn’t wear off for days. To a certain extent I am definitely still pissed off about it.

Reflecting on my emotions, past and present, and how they could impact my own decision-making actually helped teach me a valuable lesson. I may see myself one way, but emotions have a habit of clouding decision-making. Today’s announcement and a moment of placing myself in the judge’s shoes altered my own position to a place that is quite different than when a cooler head prevails.

All this is a perfect reminder for times when an important decision is required: Take a step back and recognize the emotion. Then set it aside. The correct decision must be based on what you believe is right and wrong, not how it makes you feel.

2. Pain – Future: With ACL reconstruction a few days away, today I picked up some crutches as I will be relying on them to get around for a few weeks. At that moment it hit me: A lot of pain is in my future.

It was indeed quite a disconcerting little lunch hour adventure. A pain-free walk (absent all jumping, running and pivoting mind you) to pick up crutches, knowing I will soon put myself through weeks of pain and months of rehab so I can enjoy those simple pleasures again.

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Unexpected emotion and Emotion unexpected

Today I learned:

1. Unexpected Emotion: If you had asked me 5 years ago what emotion I would experience when walking out of the house in the morning accompanied by a tiny witch in gumboots and a two-legged horse wearing a pirate hat and Dora shoes, I would have assumed it would be embarrassment. Today I learned instead that emotion is acceptance, accompanied by a sort of muted expectation that the day can only improve from there.

2. Emotion unexpected: With pending ACL surgery I have spent the last few days researching what to expect in the recovery period immediately following the procedure. I have been talking to friends that have gone through the same thing, chatting up doctors and scouring the web. At this point I find just about any source acceptable, from the anecdotal to the scientific, and the most concerning thing to me is the variety of answers I am given, even from credible resources.

It is not the likelihood of success that bothers me – I would not proceed if I wasn’t completely confident in both the surgeon’s ability to do his job, and my ability to commit to the rigours of months of rehab.

What bothers me is the inability make concrete plans in my personal and professional life.

Despite having a desk job I have been told the time I will need off work could range anywhere from 2 days (by a close friend) to 4-6 weeks (by a surgeon). In the weeks following the operation I have pre-planned personal events including two Canuck’s games, a Wine Tasting, and a family wedding. Now I don’t know if I will be able to attend any of them.

Family vacation at Easter? Not sure how mobile I will be.

Annual summer golf trip? I damn well hope so.

Essentially I am entering a period of somewhere up to a month where planning work meetings/commitments is tough and up to about 6 months where planning anything fun is risky.

The result? A range of emotions.

  • Happiness – “Finally, surgery after a frustrating 4.5 month wait.”
  • Anger – “I really dislike the inability to safely plan and commit.”
  • Appreciation – “I now understanding of how important it is to keep fit and healthy.”
  • Indecision – “I hate giving family and work non-committal answers to fair questions.”
  • Hope – “I really want to be rehab’d in time for that golf trip!”
  • Freedom – “I know what I can do now, so a spur of the moment family vacation has been booked.”

Surgery and Rehab? No problem. I go that. It’s the unknown that is getting to me. When you are a planner, the thing that bugs you more than anything is an empty calendar.