Sept. 16, 1996
I've had two surgeries over the past few years at different hospitals in the Chicago area. Both were elective, but in order to continue enjoying my outside physical activities I thought the procedures were necessary. The first was a knee operation. Over the years my left knee had become increasingly painful when I played any sport. Finally the day came when I could hardly get out of bed. That's when I made the decision to have the surgery. The second surgery was a hernia operation. That, too, was causing me discomfort when I played golf, ran or played ice hockey. So the day came when I made the big decision to get that fixed as well. Understand that I think hospitals are wonderful, healing places-for other people, not for me. So deciding to go ahead with the surgeries wasn't easy. But I was in for some pleasant surprises.
The orthopedic surgeon who performed the knee procedure is a good friend. He has three sons and lives in my hometown. Whenever we see each other he loves to talk about his oldest son and regale me with the boy's latest exploits as a hockey player. Since I'm a big hockey fan, too, I share the enthusiasm the father feels for his hockey-player son. When the time came for me to have my knee scoped I naturally chose my "orthopod" friend. I remember taking a cab downtown at 6 in the morning to register at the major healthcare facility where I would have the surgery. Since my friend was there I wasn't too uptight about the actual procedure. I'd been told it would be "routine" and I would be walking around almost immediately and back playing hockey in two or three weeks. It sounded almost too good to be true.
After being prepped and given a local anesthetic, I was wheeled into the surgery room, and there was my friend. The surgery began almost immediately, and a TV screen was positioned so I could see what was being done to my knee. I actually enjoyed that, but as the surgery progressed I heard someone singing a la Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Whoever it was he wasn't doing a very good imitation. It wasn't long before I identified my surgeon as the one doing the crooning as he operated on my knee. But I had sense enough not to say anything, especially when he was digging around my knee with a knife.
Then came my hernia surgery. Here, too, the surgeon was a good friend, but he had privileges at a different hospital. The day came and I was taken to a holding area where all surgery patients wait their turn. As I was wheeled down the hall I heard what sounded like some sort of social gathering. It was a group of people like me all waiting for their surgeries to begin, and the nurses and other attendants were chatting with them about all kinds of things. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. I liked the atmosphere because it was relaxed and fun. It was definitely a surprise.
Both surgeries were a success, and I'm enjoying running, skating and playing golf. As strange as it was I truly enjoyed my surgeon's singing in the first case and the relaxed atmosphere in the holding area in the second case. It reduced the stress level for me, which I think helped me recover rapidly from both procedures.
Sometimes I think all of us, especially those in leadership positions, have a tendency to get too uptight about a lot of things, making people around us uptight as well. We often don't realize how others react when we're in a bad mood or too preoccupied to even acknowledge another person. In stressful situations sometimes a song or a joke might be just the thing to lighten the load for everyone.
Relax,Charles S. Lauer