Eight weeks ago today I underwent major open heart surgery to fix a problem I was born with. For more than 30 years I had been aware that I needed to have this surgery. Last October, it was clear that I needed it, and I began a two-month journey to the operating room.
Along the way, doctors had told me that it would take about eight weeks to recover. In the first days after surgery, it was hard to believe that.
But my doctors were right. Thanks to attentive care from my wife, Sarah, my daughter, Elizabeth, my son, Ted, many friends and neighbors, and countless Kaiser staff, my recovery ran ahead of schedule.
I feel very good now, quite a lot better than I felt in the months leading up to the surgery. I can walk farther and faster. I sleep well. I enjoy playing my ukulele. I’ve signed up as a Whale Watch docent on Bodega Head. Soon I’ll be back to teardrop trailering with Sarah, canoeing, kayaking, traveling, volunteering as a ukulele instructor in local schools, and bike riding.
Best of all, I’m happy. I feel extremely fortunate and very grateful to live in a time when medical science works its modern miracles.
In the days, weeks and months ahead I plan to resume more strenuous activities—longer hikes, bike rides, and paddling excursions for instance—all things I once enjoyed but had gradually given up.
I’m happier, too, because I am okay after facing one of my scariest fears (my father died soon after the same surgery). The world seems bigger, safer, and kinder somehow.
An experience like this enhances one’s awareness of the beauty, brevity and preciousness of life.