Having reread my expectant words, written before the appointment, I realise the extent to which I had fantasized the capabilities of an undoubtedly outstanding but mere, mortal man. I had treated yesterday’s consultation as one would approach a job interview. Endless hours spent scrutinizing surgical procedures, analyzing cutting-edge spinal research and meticulous note taking. Unfortunately, my interview was akin to the horrifying and torturous experience of my Cambridge interview, where no amount of planning and research can equip you with necessary tools to be prepared for the information you are about to digest. My subconscious, less rational parts were still praying for my surgeon to be an underground messiah who could perform miracles, and my scientific, logical parts had attempted to already process all possibilities, so as to have rehearsed all the necessary questions to fire. The consultation did not follow any of my hypothesized paths, and, instead I was thrown into unknown waters, a new “complicated and demanding” surgery becoming the topic of inspection.
The remainder of the day was spent in complete and utter shell shock.
“Combat stress reaction (CSR), in the past commonly known as shell shock or battle fatigue, is a military term used to categorize a range of behaviours resulting from the stress of battle which decrease the combatant's fighting efficiency.”
For the first time during this ordeal, I was unable to function, not just physically, but also mentally. I struggled in my capacity to explain the surgery to loved ones. I was unable to communicate the internal dilemmas that continually tormented me and yet, also completely incapable of distracting myself. I longed for company but had become temporarily autistic. I was exhausted and desperately desired sleep, if only as a temporary escape mechanism, a moment’s peace.
Today I am back a fighter. I now have a plan, albeit a completely new and unexpected one, and must now find means to manage. I must find the fuel for my internal fire, so that this new daunting route can be traversed with the strongest mindset I can muster.