An Unexpected Benefit From Surgery

Knee Surgery
Together we’re the Best!
February 27, 2015
National Catholic Sisters Week
March 19, 2015

By Sister Nancy Surma, OSF

My Lent started early this year—on January 27 to be exact. That day I had surgery on my right foot which ended up being more extensive than my surgeon expected. I was sent home with my foot all covered in gauze and wrapped in an ace bandage with directions that my first two weeks were to be the equivalent of bed rest with my foot elevated as much as possible and iced frequently. The next two weeks saw me walking on crutches carefully, and last week I graduated to walking around more, but with the same swathing of my foot.

All this meant I stayed at home with no driving, no going in to the office, or no physical work around the house. A recliner in the living room and my bed were my locations. It amazed me how much time everything took. Getting up in the morning, out of bed and dressed took at least a half hour. Taking a shower (using a shower seat and a plastic bag on my foot) was an hour plus.

What this led to was great care and attention to the movements of my body. I was forced to concentrate on what I was doing in each moment. Pushing down the hall on the “kneeler-wheeler” I used the first month took focused effort to stay balanced and carefully plant my left foot as I knelt with my right leg on the scooter-like vehicle. No more walking down the hall to my bedroom lost in thought about what I needed to do tomorrow.

Moving from one room to the other required foresight and careful consideration: What did I need to take with me? What was I going for? Did I have my cell phone with me in case anyone called? Brushing my teeth meant carefully focusing on balancing without too much pressure on my right foot while I thought about which teeth I was scrubbing.

All this focusing on what my body was doing led to a wonderful consequence. I found myself focused on what I was thinking and feeling. My brain slowed down with my body and became more in tune with my immediate surroundings. Instead of being distracted when I read the psalms in morning and evening prayer, I carefully focused on each line, delighting in the images or consolation they brought. Rather than dropping off to sleep at night, exhausted from the day’s work, I lay there getting in touch with how I was feeling and thanking God for all that had happened that day.

I’d tried to be mindful before, reading articles on the benefit of focusing and calming oneself. But this was the first time I kept the practice going for a sustained time. It helped me get in tune with what was out of balance in my life, which is what I believe Lent should help me do.

The pins in my feet come out soon and in a few weeks I should be walking normally again. I think this means I’ll have an early Easter too.

Sister Nancy Ann Surma

Health and Human Services

Sister Nancy is a native of Detroit and was taught in grade school by the Sylvania Franciscans. Her early years were spent teaching and administering at the junior high and high school level. Life took a turn, as it so often does, and she served as administrator in four different Catholic colleges and universities, earning a doctorate in higher education administration along the way. She currently serves as the Vice President of Mission Integration for CHI Living Communities, a part of CommonSpirit Health. CHI offers seniors numerous safe and convenient living options deeply rooted in a Catholic heritage offering a healing ministry for people of all faiths.

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