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Friday, June 22, 2012

Reflections on Laura's Back Surgery

My sister had back surgery a week and a half ago. I had no idea the memories and emotions this event would bring back to me. It's like a weird, out of body (because I'm not the one who actually had the surgery), déjà vu experience for me. Oddly enough, I think it's actually harder being on this side of things rather than the one lying on the bed in pain. I know that sounds weird- but there's just something harder about watching others suffer than being the one to suffer. Maybe it's because I've always been on the sufferer side of things, so the watcher is a new role.

It's also very strange to watch my mom taking care of Laura. It's like watching her interactions with me, but with a different person. And boy does it bring back the memories!! My mom is definitely good in her role as nurse/caretaker... I gave her lots of practice. ;) She knows when to be sympathetic and listen to you complain about how crappy and unfair you feel the whole situation is. But once your done complaining, she pushes you to see the positives- that things will get better, and in order to get better you gotta get your butt out of bed. No matter how much that's the last thing you want to do in the whole world and how much pain that will cause. Yes... she's very good in her role. And now that I'm not the person who's recovering and I'm just merely watching, I've gained a whole renewed sense of gratitude for my mom and all she did (and continues to do) for me during my surgeries. I couldn't have hand picked a better person if I tried.

One night while visiting Laura and giving Mike a break from everything, we all started discussing how easy it can be to complain and take your frustrations out on the person taking care of you. Laura made the comment along the lines of how you're just in so much pain and so frustrated with your body; but you can't do anything to change your body so you instead take your frustrations out on the person who you know will take it (but least deserves it). I started crying when she said that. Oh how I know that feeling too well. Sometimes I just really hate this physical body of mine and I wish I could say, "Thanks, but no thanks" and trade it in for a different one. But alas, I can't and so I must deal.

This experience has also made me so grateful to live in this time with all of the modern medical knowledge/technology we have. I can't imagine what I (and Laura) would've done if we were living 100 years ago. (I actually know what I would've done.... died. I wouldn't have made it past birth.)

Finally, seeing Laura in so much pain, hearing about the pain my mom was in before her back surgery 23+ years ago, and remembering my own pains I've experienced- has made me think a lot about the pain the Savior must have endured (and willingly no less!) in the Garden of Gethsemane. Not only was it physical pains He endured, but also all of our emotional/mental pains. It was for our sins, our sorrows, disappointments, frustrations, anger, and pain... everything. I can't even begin to fathom, and am merely just in awe. I'm so humbled and grateful that He loves each of us enough to suffer than in our behalf. I love my Savior, and His Gospel.


  1. Thanks for this post Jess. That conversation was a hard one, but I believe very eye opening for all of us. Its so frustrating to be in so much pain, but I have honestly kept thinking before & after that I am so grateful that it is ME going through it & not having to watch someone I love going through it. We both are more than lucky to have our mom to help us out in such trying times (& also, of course, Mike for me as well). You have been such a huge part in my recovery, you are definitely the ray of sunlight that brightens my day when you come for a visit. I don't know what I would do without all of you. Love you so much!

  2. My brother tore his ACL on his mission. He refused to come home to get it fixed, so he just went on with it like that until he got home. Then he got it fixed. He called on his way home from the surgical center to apologize in advance for his rudeness/crankiness due to the pain. I said, "How will I know the difference between today and any other day?" It gave him a little chuckle. But the truth was that even when he was cranky, I knew it wasn't him. So does your mom/Laura's husband/family/everyone who really loves you.

    Question that is none of my business that you don't have to answer: Is this a genetic defect or what surgeries have you all had to have?

  3. Very good reflections, Jess. Nobody could empathize with Laura at this time as much as you and Mom, having both gone through similar experiences. And it's amazing how much we learn about ourselves when someone else goes through a similar experience to our own.