(Yes, that joke was 9 months in the making).
It’s amazing how quickly the human body can become conditioned to things. Up until the last year of my life, I laughed, sneezed, even hiccuped normally. The pectus excavatum had it’s symptoms, but none that simple or obvious. But when I had the bar in these last 9 months, it wasn’t always that easy. Towards the end of the time, the bar had become quite embedded (I think this was due to a fall down the steps in April). Sneezes were pure torture once that happened; I was petrified of getting a cold. I essentially stopped sneezing, at least as far as I could help it. Whenever I felt that recognizable tickle I’d proceed through my checklist of sneeze-preventing procedures. Hold my breath: check! Squeeze my nostrils closed: check! Push on the roof of my mouth with my tongue: check! Look like an idiot if doing these things in public: check!!! But, that google search was productive, as those things did usually help keep the sneezes at bay. Sadly, laughing wasn’t fun either… it especially hurt when it was a sudden fit of laughter, like when Sam would throw in a random funny comment out of no where and I would burst out laughing. In a positive note, I’ve realized how blessed I am to live a life filled with frequent laughter. 🙂
So, when I returned from the hospital just two days after having the bar removed, I felt lighter in more ways than one. Once it became clear that it didn’t hurt to laugh, Sam and I sat down and watched gag reels on YouTube for way too long, chuckling, chortling, and even guffawing together – pain free. Praise God! And, since my surgery two weeks ago, I’ve enjoyed several pain-free sneezes. (Yes, enjoyed. I actually love sneezing usually.) For the first week post-surgery my instinct was still to shut down the sneezes (No! NO!!! Initiate Anti-Sneeze Protocol!) and I had to actively think about sneezing, but this week I think I have enjoyed more carefree sneezes than I did the entire past 9 months. I even had a fit of hiccups while cooking dinner tonight and it just made me feel silly, as opposed to sore. These little things have meant more to me than you’ll probably understand, and to me they truly mark an improvement.
My general recovery after this surgery has been a breeze, especially compared to the first surgery. Now, two weeks later, I feel great! I was able to sing in the worship team on Sunday, I’ve been back to work for a week already, and I’ve even done some gentle yoga a few times. Soon I’ll begin physical therapy to begin tackling the bingo wings I’ve gained these past few months of not being able to lift anything over 15 lbs. Cardio will come soon – jogging, running, dancing – all in its time.
So, I’ll commit the next months to these worthy tasks: praising God as I laugh more, dance around my house simply because I can, and sneeze whenever the sunshine tickles my nose.