Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Now that it will forever be linked to my brain surgery, it will have an even deeper meaning. While it can at times seem cliche to espouse on “things I’m thankful for” essays this time of year, I feel it is warranted after this kind of roller-coaster ride. My two year post surgery anniversary is coming up next week. Hard to believe that two Thanksgivings ago, I was prepping to go under the knife and attack this tumor.
While I would never wish this experience on anyone, I also would never for a second take it back if now given the chance. The last two years have forced me to do a lot of things. It has tested me physically, emotionally, spiritually, professionally, and just about every way imaginable. For anyone going through something similar, the most important thing is to obviously prepare for the physical. Prepare the body and mind for a long battle back from such a major surgery. After you are able to get back to some semblance of “normalcy” in that regard, this is where it can be trickier.
Similar to any life-altering experience or trauma, this tumor and subsequent surgery have forced me to reevaluate and re-prioritize. I’ve gone back and forth on this focus constantly. I think my advice after two years to anyone recovering from a hardship would be to attempt to observe and simplify. After I was able to step back and observe things in my life, I found that certain things needed to be changed. For my family and I, that meant moving from our condo in Boston to be closer to my office. I had convinced myself that the two-plus hours a day spent commuting were “time for me to unwind”. When in reality, it was time I was missing my wife and young son, and being stressed out by incessant traffic. While my wife and I miss many things about being in the city, it has been a net positive for our family as a whole.
In terms of simplification, I really mean trying to focus more on experiences, relationships, and personal development vs. “things” and stressing over every little issue that is on the to-do list at home and at work. Easier said than done for sure. Like most anything, it is something that I’ve found gets a little easier with practice and time. If anyone is interested in broader focus on this concept, I would encourage you to go to The Minimalists website. They’ve also recently produced a documentary called “Minimalism: A documentary about the important things”, which is definitely worth a watch.
Anyone going through a traumatic experience or surgery will certainly have their own pitfalls and ups and downs throughout their recovery. I just want to share what has helped so far for me. All I can say is that I’ve certainly found that trying to not change too much too quickly, and refocusing once you are able to, have had immense impact.
So two years later I am thankful for the change that this process has given me. I hope that those of you that are facing your own crossroads or challenges can find your own reasons to be thankful as well. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!