“You’re entering the second phase of healing.” These comforting words were from my surgeon, who two weeks earlier had given me a “nose job”. This was my second post-op appointment. It was that term “second phase” that fooled me. He didn’t explain what that would be like at first, I just leapt to my own rose-colored-glasses conclusion. Then, as he examined his handiwork, he mumbled, “Nice, very nice”. It was just the way he said it that made me think recovery would be a skate from here on out. I was wrong.

So this was nose surgery. To be exact, I had: septoplasty; bilateral submucosal resection of inferior turbinates; bilateral external nasal valve repair. A frightening name, but “nose job” is good enough. The final decision to go under the knife kept me awake at night, but my breathing had been restricted for so long that it just made sense… then. I’ve been down before for various reasons, but this one involves breathing, which I really love to do.

The aftermath has been a challenge. Keeping my airway open amid swelling is, apparently, my new full time job. But there is progress. Last night I abandoned the living room recliner that kept my nose above my heart and climbed into my own bed at last. Ahh, love that bed.

I’m on the mend now, so have the luxury of contemplation. The upside of down time is plenty of thinking time, and I’ve been doing a lot of it. One thing is perfectly clear; I take too many things in my life for granted. For starters, breathing of course. Gotta have it. The other big one is sleep. I’m useless without it. Post surgery instruction #13: Avoid major decisions for the first 2 weeks. I laughed at this, even scoffed. After all, this was only my nose we’re talking about. Well… I didn’t know about the sleep part and how hard it would be to get.

One thing I don’t take for granted is time, a gift I’m still discovering. Time is scarce and taken up by obligations when you’re busy raising children and paying the bills. But when that part of your life has passed, you have a lot more time for reflection and making better decisions.

Gratitude has moved up in status within the last two weeks, to first place on the priority list. How lucky I am to live with a loving partner who will do anything to help me when I truly need it. It really doesn’t matter what it involves. How lucky I am to have good health and the desire to keep it that way. How lucky I am to have a fabulous mattress and the good sense to use it wisely.

I’m not feeling witty or clever or clear headed as I write this, so any screw-ups must be forgiven. I did take last week off from my writing because, really, my only deadlines are in my own head. And as it turns out, I can be a very reasonable boss.