More than she bargained for . . . !!!!!

I am prone to hyperbole.  And I think we can all agree that is not an exaggeration.  However, in this particular case, I feel that my complaining has been completely justified and proportionate to my suffering.  The main problem is, I feel that when I made the decision to have nasal surgery, I underestimated what I was setting myself up for.

It was big.

Actually, I'd like to go a step further and in a rare instance of being grateful to George W. Bush for making up words, I'd like to use a word even bigger than underestimated --

I would go so far as to say --  misunderestimated. 

Underestimated with a little extra something . . . for emphasis. 

It could be my ENT's utterly bland demeanor as he very briefly explained the procedure and the recovery --  
to hear me recount the details, for instance, would be quite a different experience. 

It could be the book they gave me to read in advance in which everyone looked so gosh darned normal, just carrying on with their day to day lives as if they had not just endured a life-threatening invasion of the worst

(Kind of like the movie Walt Disney made 
to sell menstruation to girls 
and make it seem like a fun part of growing up!)

I felt justified in my combination horror/self-pity/despair when my oldest daughter looked at me the other day and said, "Good.  At least your eyes have gone back in their right place."  WHAT??!! Thank goodness she had not previously remarked that my eyes were NOT in their right place, which would have only heightened the nightmarish scenarios my own brain was concocting overtime during sleepless hours of snotty suffering.  

Although I'm standing by my surgical decision in the hope that it will indeed pay off, I must admit that at times it has seemed like the worst idea since my previous worst idea:  jumping off a jungle gym as a kid while holding a bag over my head.  I thought there would be a cool parachute effect of some kind.  Instead there was a crash, which may have looked cool but was actually very painful (and also temporarily robbed me of the ability to breathe, now that I think about it.)

At any rate, when I wrote about my impending "procedure" last Monday, I did so fully expecting that I would be back here laughing about it with you on Wednesday, perhaps slightly loopy from pain pills but those would only add to the charm and merriment of the essay. 

In reality, on Wednesday, I was wishing and thinking dire things that are not suitable to print or even consider on a family friendly website such as Small Works

I would tell you more but I fear there are not enough exclamation points available to underscore the depth of my feeling about the experience!!!

Partly because the over-use of the exclamation point has sucked
all possible meaning out of it, leaving us with nothing when we
really, really need to communicate that we mean it. 

As Jennifer Egan (recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her brilliant work, A Visit From the Goon Squad) observed, "The more exclamation points you use, the more you need to use in order to create an impression of exclamation."

My predicament precisely!

Although Mark Twain decried the use of the exclamation point as being akin to laughing at one's own joke and instead advocated a more understated burying of the punchline, we unfortunately do not all have Twain's talent to communicate things with exquisite precision through a deft (almost surgical!) choice of words.

So instead we use an exclamation point as if to say, "Look here!  This is what I mean!  It's the important part!" And without such crutches to make communicating things easy, we might never get the email/essay/text message written at all.

"But not many would think of that. 
They would think of it next day, 
but that is the difference between talent 
and the imitation of it. Talent thinks of it at the time."

--Mark Twain

It's much easier to just stick an exclamation point (or 5) on the end and then think of what might have been the right words later, when you are smacking yourself on the forehead for your dopey overuse of exclamation points...

In a recent NY Times article on the proliferation of exclamation points, Aimee Lee Ball explained that "Writing is by definition an imperfect medium for relaying the human voice,  And in the age of electronic communication . . . many literate and articulate people find themselves justifying the exclamation point to convey emotion, enthusiasm or excitement.  Some do so guiltily, as if on a slippery slope to smiley faces."

So since punctuation has become meaningless, and the face (definitely not smiley!!!!!!) icon has not yet been invented to suit this particular purpose, I suppose I shall be content just to tell you that: 1) I am glad I am back, and that 2) my absence was somewhat . . . er . . . more trying than I expected. 

But I can't help but wonder if it would have changed things if, ANYWHERE in the literature or the doctor's calm delivery, there had been one single well-placed exclamation point . . . something along the lines of :


(At the very least it might have helped me prepare for impact.)

Happy glad-to-be-alive Monday! (*sniff)



Allie said...

Oh you poor dear - I've heard that this is a very TRYING surgery - I do like that word, misunderestimated. I think that sums it up pretty accurately. And the exclamation point...oh guilty as charged, again and again and again!

Leenie said...

I, too, have heard such a "procedure" is only easy for the doctor and nurses to get over. Any time the medical community comes at you with knives and needles there will be PAIN...and swelling...and bruising. Even with good drugs. Usually the memories fade when the cure starts to take hold but WOW! What hell one goes through until then! (Only one exclamation mark but thinking there should be MUCH more.)

Get well and keep on drawing and blogging. Hoping you can get back on top physically so you can jump off another jungle gym.

susan m hinckley said...

Thanks, girls -- a word of advice going forward is that when the dr. steps into the room to talk to you before the surgery, and all he says is, "You're going to be miserable," and then leaves, you should probably also consider leaving before they get you with the sleepy needle.

krex said...

My ability to overcatastrophize is often so powerful, that I tend to view a visit to the Dr's in much the same light as a visit to Dexter . The fact that I will end up in financial debt paying for my own torture adds insult to injury . I congratulate you on your bravery and what I hope will be a temporary agony with a long term benefit....many years of unobstructed breathing .

luanne said...

...and did the Dr smile ever-so-slightly when he said that?

Eek! (!!!!)

With luck, his technical skills compensated for his lacking bedside manner. Hope the worst of the worst is over now, and all your lovely features are settling back into their proper locations.

And yay for your intact sense of humor, giving me a fresh appreciation for my favorite W legacy -- "misunderestimated" indeed.

Amelia Poll said...

I'm sorry. My comment on the last post was assuming that you knew, at least somewhat, what you were getting yourself into. That surgery sucks. Just a heads up, I had to he careful around Justin's nose (like leaning in to give him a kiss) for 6-8 months after the surgery. There were times, months after he had it done, when I'd accidentally bump him and it would bring tears to his eyes (involuntary reaction, or so he said...) because it still hurt. So... I am sorry that the doctor didn't warn you. It's probably because he's never had it done to him, so he doesn't really know. I know Justin's doctor didn't really prepare us for his procedure (and he had 5 different things done at once), so it was a bit of a shock.

I do hope that you are feeling better and that your nose will forgive you for what you did to it. On the plus side, Justin is able to breathe out of his nose now - something he'd never been able to do in his entire life. It has changed his life, so although recovery was awful, he'd do it again. Hope that helps you feel a teensy bit better about your decision.

Amelia Poll said...

Justin has just informed me that he still has occasions when his nose hurts from getting bumped in a certain way... And his surgery was August of 2005... Sorry. Maybe I shouldn't have told you that. BUT! He can still breathe better than ever and isn't usually in pain :-/

VO said...

I had a young, fresh-faced ENT and he did tell me it would be terrible. But his fresh-face and smiley! demeanor allowed me to gloss over that word -terrible- because I wanted to breathe so much.

The little victories: losing that under the nose sling thing to catch whatever is falling out of your nose (how does stuff come out when you're so plugged up?), getting 4 hours of sleep without waking up gasping for air, having my features reemerge after swelling to hot air balloon sizes. And finally losing all the exclamation points I used in my posts about the aftermath of my choice.

The upside is you will eventually feel good about your choice. You'll be extra glad for every breath. I hope the air is humid ever day so it's just a little easier to breathe. And carry your bottle of saline wherever you go!

Judy said...

While I am agonizing for you, I must confess that I loved this awesome discourse on exclamation points and plan to pilfer some of your great quotes. That said, I hope your recovery starts to go better! And that you return to a normal life!! Actually, that your new life with added oxygen is better than normal!!!

Pam said...

Guess we all underestimated the brawling bar scenes in those old Westerns where cowboys reeled under a full scale punch on the nose. Maybe those guys suffered mercilessly long after the saloon doors had swung shut!
I think you're brave with your procedure and hope your breathing is easier now.

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