It took me decades -literally decades- to finally be assessed for surgery. A car accident in my late teens left me with a broken nose and emergency-room refastened (stapled) eyelids. My husband never knew me to look any differently, but I knew. I knew my nose used to be straight and I could wear sunglasses withOUT adjustable nose pads lest the glasses rest very noticeably cooked on my face. I knew that I used to be able to wear eyeliner without it smearing on the top of my left eyelid, or look crookedly painted on my right eyelid, even though it was straight. My amended face didn’t bother me too much, but as I began to age, I could see the scar lines in my eyes growing and becoming more prominent, even impeding my vision. I was fine with my crooked nose, but my vision… well, I like to be able to see.
Once I decided, the scheduled surgery seemed to be only a breath away. The thing is, I don’t like surgery. Who does? Maybe surgeons do. Maybe I would like surgery if I were a surgeon. But as a patient… I’m not a fan. Hence the decades thing. I was in no hurry. But I wanted to be able to see.
As the weeks hot footed into days, I found myself becoming irritable and anxious. I googled everything about the doctor online, read every negative review, and started to watch a similar type of surgery on YouTube… for about 30 seconds. Then I had to turn it off. Too queasy. Surgery is not my thing.
I finally asked my husband for a blessing. I am tenaciously private and independent, so my asking was a big deal, even for the mortal who knows me best.
Because he was more confident about the ability of the surgeon, and in my body in healing on its own, he offered me a blessing of comfort. Not healing. Comfort. My stubbornness and distrust of all things surgical remained, yet I did not press for consecrated oil. But that thought flickered -but for a millisecond- during the blessing. Still the words were clear: I was told everything would be fine, that the surgeon was well skilled, and to “accept others’ help.” This pricked me, and the words continued. “People want to serve you. Let them.”
Okay. Fine. Serve me. Sure. Yep. And phew! I can do this… most of this. But… humph. Melbourne was still in lockdown; it is the longest locked down city in the world. Church was still online, no one is allowed over, not even to drop off food… how can anyone be of service?
I was still nervous after the blessing. Anxious, even. But better. The blessing helped. So if that helped…
“I am having surgery next week and I am nervous about it,” I typed to my Ministering Sisters a full day later. It was the only thing I could come up with as service that wasn’t on the lockdown-banned list. “Would you please pray for me to feel calm? I’m anxious.”
Within seconds the first reply came. “Of course.” After that, I opened up my corkscrewed-tight private (and prideful) heart and asked others to pray for me, confessing my worry. They all responded in the affirmative. Every. Single. One. That alone felt like service. It was service! I wasn’t going in alone. I had an army of women with me, through prayer.
On the day of the surgery, my blood pressure was normal. Super normal! Like normal with a super hero cape, normal! I was so calm that I was not given any of the opiates that are normally used for the outpatient procedure. Numbing cream and a local injection (in my eye / don’t remind me) did the trick. My mind was at ease.
I came home to a flurry of messages asking how things went. Through temporarily, medically blurred eyes I typed that all was well, and thanked everyone for their service.
I used to berate “thoughts and prayers” messages as lacking action. It seemed like then, and still now, I can’t go scroll Facebook without seeing offers of “thoughts and prayers.” Maybe that is what numbed me to the action side of prayers– I was so habitually seeing the words that I had forgotten the service part of prayer. After all, I am an action-packed service do-er! I casserole, school carpool, do laundry, and clean like a professional Molly Mormon! I always prayed for people I helped, too. But I felt better doing something. Or at least I did.
Now I understand on a so much deeper level how powerful the “prayer” part of service is. It is not a cure, or a magic wand, or a microwaveable meal. But. It is a service. And, at that time, it was exactly the service that I needed. I see that now. I very clearly see that now.