Yes, People Learn From Hardship. But Those Lessons Are Mostly Disgusting

Why, yes, I am having spinal surgery. And thank you, stranger, for the heartfelt advice, mostly about growing from adversity.

You’re certainly right: There is a lot of growing and learning in adversity. So far I’ve learned that telling the dog, “Hey, I’m having spinal surgery,” will not get a person out of walking the dog. And playing that same surgery-card absolutely won’t work if a person tries to convince children to hand over ice cream. In fact, the only thing that that surgery-card seems to get a person is more platitudes about growing from adversity.

But, really, I am absolutely learning from hardship. Just like you, a person I’ve never met, keep saying. I’m learning that we can’t control the world around us, only our reaction to it. And also trimming one’s toenails is downright impossible in a cervical collar.

Most of the lessons I’ve learned so far have actually been pretty disgusting. Like: if you’re only allowed a liquid diet during the week following a surgery, you don’t have to worry as much about post-op constipation.

I definitely believe that challenges are opportunities for self-reflection and acceptance. But I also think they are opportunities to gross yourself out with your own body.

People say nature heals. But they don’t mention the fact that that process is awfully hard to watch. And I’m not just talking about incision puss.

Also, before you even go there, whatever doesn’t kill you does not always make you stronger. Sometimes it just keeps you from being killed. Or from shaving your own legs.

I realize that I could probably learn more from all of this. At least about internal anatomy and stuff. But learning is still learning if it’s in the area of bodily excretion, awkward self-grooming, and guilt-tripping loved ones.

Maybe some people are meant to respond to life’s obstacles by becoming better in vaguely inspiring and generic ways. But I know I’m not alone in growing in ways no one wants to know about or hear about.

So, stranger, you can keep your “get well soon” card. For me, it’s “get less gross soon.” Because these hardship lessons just keep coming, like vomit after heavy anesthesia. And just as disgusting.

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