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Tonsillectomy, or high-altitude re-entry | Sam Debatin | Sat 11 Dec 2021 12:29:18 AM EST

Ok first of all: tonsillectomy is a horrible word. Like really just gross. In fact all of the -ectomy words can really just get out.

With that out of the way, I don't really want to write up a whole "this was my tonsillectomy experience" post because there are a million of those and it's mostly nasty and not that interesting. You mostly just sit around, hope you don't bleed, and go through a week and a half long misery sampler pack.

I'm writing this at the end of day seven after the surgery, feeling largely better although still in a decent amount of pain. That week has felt like a month, and although that is in some ways horrible, I also kind of like that in retrospect? There's something kind of enlightening about spending a week in misery and then slowly pulling yourself out of it to rejoin the regular world. Well, maybe enlightening is too strong a word, maybe more like illuminating? Of course it's awful to sit around and do nothing all day, but it's also a good reset button. I'm finding myself more interested in my hobbies again, more eager to go on walks and experience the world, and socially starved enough that even just hanging out for half an hour feels like I had a really good and intense conversation with someone. Now, I still can't talk very well, but as that slowly returns I know that that will be another pleasant descent into normalcy.

This post is becoming another one of my extremely lukewarm takes, but hear me out. Those experiences of misery are a little bit like orbiting at high altitude. You get to spend a lot of time alone, it's not very comfortable, but you also get to see things that you wouldn't normally see. Even though I only "saw" the walls of my mom's house for a week, its given my brain a lot of time to come out of the regular pathways of thought that it occupies. It's been a complete disruption in my life, and in some ways I hardly feel like the same person. It's easy to switch between feeling ecstatic and dissociative, but the less shitty I feel, the closer it moves towards ecstatic. I think this is some people's experience with hallucinogenic drugs, albeit not mine necessarily, but that feeling of completely losing yourself for a while, becoming something that isn't you at all, and then returning to your normal life with some kind of time and perspective on your side seems like a good thing to practice occasionally.

I guess you could call this controlled sickness, in a sense? I've had surgeries before, but none of them with quite this long of a recovery time. I can imagine that it would get pretty annoying if the recovery were any longer, and I don't want to romanticize misery or pain, because I don't think that's what it is. I guess I mean that it's nice to have some time to just do absolutely nothing and eschew all responsibilities? Like there's absolutely no way anyone is going to make me do anything in the state that I'm in, and I like that. It feels good.

Edit: I also think that at a basic level we're all overworked and maybe I just function better when I don't have a million things to do every day. Turns out creativity shines when your brain is not stressed...

Edit 2, January 31, 2022: Now that I'm almost two months out from the surgery, all that feels like a dream. Re-reading this post made me remember what it was like to re-enter social life, and at this point I"m so fully reintegrated that I kind of wish I had another disruption to make me appreciate the life. Or maybe I just need to appreciate the life as it is more...