As I’ve noted before in a previous blog post (see The Summer of Ryan), I enjoy the sitcom Seinfeld. I relate to the character of George Constanza, as I tend to be a bit neurotic at times. It is for this reason that my mind usually goes to extremes after I have had surgery. I worry that there will be complications that will delay healing, which has actually happened a few times after previous surgeries.

Today, I have had some chills and a low-grade fever. In truth, this is probably because I have become a little dehydrated. However, my mind instantly goes to the possibility of infection, despite there being no indications of this. Should I go to the ER, or should I just stay home? I often weigh these questions heavily. I also feel quite run down, but I guess that is to be expected a few days after having surgery.

It is difficult to be patient when you are the patient! I want to be back on my feet doing everything I could do a week ago before my gallbladder became my worst enemy. Despite this, I know that healing takes time. It is just a little frightening when your body is doing things it normally doesn’t do.

For instance, I had a blister inside my belly button that popped this evening. It almost appeared as if someone was trying to blow a bubble from my umbilical area. I was thinking this might be a new party trick that I could unveil at Christmas – “Step right up and watch me blow bubbles from my belly button!” I could even take this show on the road. I’m sure there is an audience somewhere that would appreciate my act.

Having surgery is nothing new to me. I have seen my body in much worse shape than it is tonight. However, the paranoia sets in when something unexpected happens. You’d think I would have learned by now to be more patient as the patient. However, at 42 my mind still wanders to the “what ifs.” What if I do have an infection starting? What if I will never be able to have another bowel movement? What if I feel like going to work on Monday, but I can’t get any pants to sit comfortably over and around my surgical wounds?

This is a busy time of year at work, and I am not there. How big of a stack of things are waiting for me upon my return? I would say probably quite a few.

These are all things that I will pray about. Life will go on and I am sure I will be back to my old routines soon. Until then I’ll continue to navel gaze. I’ll let you know if the bubbles keep coming. I am off to take my temperature…

Four statues which stand in the Louvre, depicting the fine art of naval gazing. I like the Greek word for this practice much better, which is “omphaloskepsis”

The Summer of Ryan

Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.– Thomas Merton

The “Summer of Ryan” began innocently enough.  It was 2004 and I was employed as a teacher’s aide at a small, private school near my home in Illinois.  Working at a school meant that I had summers off to do whatever I wanted. When school let out in May, I decided I was going to spend the summer focusing on things that made me happy.  I declared that it was going to be the “Summer of Ryan,” which is an idea that I borrowed from Seinfeld.  If you have never seen this television show there is a character by the name of George Constanza, who is quite self-centered.  In one particular episode of the show, George declares that he is going to have a “Summer of George.” So, being rather self-centered myself, I thought I’d take a page from George’s book and indulge myself in the pleasures of a carefree summer. To this end, I bought tickets to several Cubs games and enjoyed traveling back and forth to Chicago.

I must have gone to at least a dozen games that summer.  It was a thrill to be at Wrigley Field, taking in all of the sights, sounds, and smells of this historic ballpark.  I had the pleasure of watching some of the greats of the game, such as Greg Maddux, play that summer. I also enjoyed listening to the vendors hawk their wares throughout the stands.  It was a chorus of “HOT DOGS, HOT DOGS, I HAVE HOT DOGS HERE,” along with “COLD BEER, COLD BEER, WHO WANTS A COLD BEER?!” Of course, there was the ever-present organ music between innings as well.  Finally, there were all kinds of great smells in the air, from cotton candy to warm, soft pretzels. It was truly a feast for the senses.

If only I had known that my “Summer of Ryan” would turn into my winter of discontent. If only I would have remembered the proverb that “pride goeth before a fall.” For you see, my arrogance in thinking that it was all about me led to a disastrous fall. One that would take years from which to recover.

See “The Winter of My Discontent – Part 1” for the next part of the story.

Wrigley Field – the setting for much of the “Summer of Ryan.”

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