The month of May casts her magic spell as spring’s promise is finally fulfilled.
– Sarah Ban Breathnach
As an adult adoptee, I’ve always looked at the world through what I call “adoption colored glasses.” In my experience, we adopted ones seem to invite drama and extremes into our lives, maybe even more than those raised by their original parents. Take, for example, a milestone event that befell me three Mays ago. One of my worst challenges—life-threatening surgery—turned into a blessing.
May is magical for me not only because of spring’s blossoming, but because it is the month that kept me alive. I was given a new lease on life. Allow me to explain…
The surprises began in late May. Just as I was retiring from my job as elementary school librarian for Santa Fe Public Schools, I contracted an intestinal flu that resulted in multiple visits to the doctor. Blaming my “bug” on elementary school germs, I assumed that I would eventually get better. Despite antibiotics, however, I felt worse by the week. My primary care physician ordered a CT scan, and the scan revealed a seriously advanced abdominal aortic aneurism. It would have to be repaired; time was of the essence. A few days after the diagnosis, I had surgery.
I vividly recall operation day. I felt a deep sense of impending doom. As I traveled into the surgical theater on a gurney, I noticed all the details—shiny surfaces, lots of white. Soon, anesthesia took over, and I was OUT. Working for several hours, the brilliant surgical duo Doctors Poseidon Varvitsiotis and Gerald Weinstein replaced my defective aortic section with a dacron stint, sutured it in place, and sewed me back together.
My next moment of consciousness was in the Intensive Care Unit, where I would spend the next two and ½ days. Despite exhaustion and a morphine-induced stupor, I was amazed and grateful. My life had been saved!
After six days at Christus St. Vincent’s, I was allowed to go home. Friends rallied, a different pal spending the night in my guest room for a couple weeks, just to make sure I was OK. For a month, I was very feeble and could get about only with the help of a walker. It was a chore to eat, to dress, to do anything at all. Following doctor’s orders, I took a siesta every afternoon. When I was at last able, I took a daily half-hour walk outdoors. Along with resting and walking, I edited, proofreading the final galleys of my memoir, The Goodbye Baby. Though later than I’d intended, the book was finally ready for publication.
So, my surgical event is history. The operation and ensuing months of recovery made me realize that, in the big picture, it does not matter if I meet personal deadlines exactly as I’d envisioned. After my brush with mortality, I adopted a new attitude. Every day, I celebrate the gift of life. And it all happened in the month of May.