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adventures in energy allocation

May 17, 2012

I may ramble more than usual, as I am still recovering from the medical procedure I had been worrying about.

A medically knowledgeable friend had reassured me that many of my anxieties were misplaced, since the kind of procedure I was having would not be done with anesthesia, but with sedation. I was actually looking forward to sedation of the sort I had had during the first of these procedures, some years ago. Because I woke up, hyper relaxed — I didn’t know my muscles ­could relax to that extent — and I think slightly euphoric. In fact, I have been talking about that sedation ever since.

Instead, I did have anesthesia, with a real live anesthesiologist. Unlike the first time, I really don’t remember anything, after a certain point. But the parts I do remember are unpleasant and painful. I did not wake up relaxed, and nowhere near euphoric.

Maybe later I’ll feel like talking about the whole thing in greater detail, but I don’t feel up to it right now.

Afterward one of the nurses told me that I would likely get a bad headache from the anesthesia, but I should only take Tylenol, while avoiding aspirin or anything with aspirin in it. I did not tell this person, who I’m sure meant well, that that meant I wouldn’t be able to take anything. Tylenol has never worked for me. When I recounted this conversation to Spouse later, he said, in all earnestness, that I should take it, because maybe this time it would work. I laughed and laughed. And then I realized he was serious. I tried to explain that he was using ‘magical thinking’, which he seemed to think was a compliment.

Perhaps luckily, the headache is not as bad as a migraine. And since I have rarely found any OTC pain reliever that helps with any headache (even migraines), I have a lot of practice gutting it out.

Much worse was my experiences with the nurse who tried to put in an IV. First he tried my right hand, which I could have told him would not work. He figured it out, after wiggling the needle around a lot. I told him phlebotomists generally tried my inner elbows, with my left elbow being particularly good. Unfortunately for me, I would be lying on my left side for the procedure. So he wound up going with my right forearm. That was also problematic, and painful, but he did get it to work in the end.

At that point, I did not have the energy to freak out, worrying about respiratory distress or anything else that might kill me under anesthesia.

The anesthesiologist was reassuring, and concerned with my comfort. But when he said that the anesthesia would cause my arm to burn, it did not really prepare me for how it felt. I would describe it more as getting jolted with gasoline in my veins, twice. It hurt, a lot. I jumped both times. And then suddenly everything smoothed out for a long moment, and I don’t remember anything more. Thankfully.

It hurts to sit. It hurts to lie down, even on my side. I feel painful twinges inside, even when I’m not moving. I have a blinding headache. My arm is in agony. I would welcome some euphoria, but there is none to be had.


At least I slept well last night. I remember dreaming about a similar procedure (maybe the one years ago), but also musician Dave Grohl, who I am reading a biography of. I woke up mid-philosophical-thought.

On the drive down, I realized that part of my blind spot about what will happen after something I’ve dreaded probably comes from being process oriented. That was an important breakthrough, because before now I’ve always assumed it was pathological in origin. That it came from my childhood somehow, or my anxiety disorders, or something else that was a sign of me doing things maladaptively. This is the first idea I’ve had that is positive.

The experience itself matters. It’s not just a pitstop on the way to my destination. It’s not just an obstacle to survive. I am embodied, and as a bodymind, my experiences matter the most. So my energy pools, saving itself up for whatever will be needed by this event. And events that I dread will generally require more of me than events that I don’t dread, but I can’t be sure what in particular will be needed. So I need to keep everything that might be salient in reserve.

The experience itself may change all that has come before, and make possible outcomes I did not anticipate. So spending time thinking about what I will do when it’s ‘all over’ has never really made sense to me. But when I tell other people that, it sounds pathological. Like I’m in denial, or I’ve lost touch with reality, or something else weird.

Insofar as I tried to anticipate how I would feel when this procedure was finished, I thought there would be a highlight, and it would be the ‘reward’ of being hyper-relaxed and slightly euphoric. I actually feel pretty crappy right now. Which I totally was not expecting. Suddenly my plans for the weekend are in doubt. In the last week or so, I had started on a program of standing up and walking around at least once an hour, because I think my extreme sedentariness has a lot to do with those ‘asthma’/’chest pain’ feelings I’ve been plagued with for the last 2 to 3 years. But now? Even though I know sitting down more is making everything worse overall, if I don’t have the energy, I can’t spend it on activities that require more of me — and standing and walking around definitely do that.

I did amble around our parking lot an hour or so ago. Spouse and I plan to go for a walk later.

I don’t mind standing up and walking around every hour, even though inertia tells me it’s too much bother. If I hadn’t listened to inertia so much before now, I wouldn’t be in this fix at all. So I’m committed to doing more. As long as I feel physically capable of it, and that’s where things are a little dicey now. Not only is my overall energy low, but I’m in a lot of pain, in multiple areas of my body. That takes more energy still.

Yesterday I was expecting to feel fine right now, and certainly have no impediment to doing whatever I wanted to, Friday or Saturday. Now, all that is up in the air. This is why I don’t plan.

Time for something to eat.

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