Last Friday, I had cataract surgery, improving the vision of my world through my right eye. The procedure was done in a hospital where anesthesia was used to make it all pain free and totally under control with resources available in case of emergency.
What I didn’t realize was that it brought back buried impressions of my last hospital stay, when I had an extreme life-threatening reaction to Percocet, and stopped breathing. The repetitive sound of the oxygen monitoring equipment brought a physical reaction that I hadn’t anticipated. It struck me that our auditory and visual memory is a primal form of protection. As soon as I heard those beeping sounds, my immediate gut level reaction was to take flight. Of course, I didn’t, but I struggled with the sound irritating me and wanted to quash it or exit the room.
“Get me outta here!” Screamed my inner voice.
I didn’t do it since I knew the procedure would benefit me. I stared at the ceiling tiles, and listened to the rhythmic beeping of the monitor. I recognized what was going on and could rationalize why I needed to stay.
How often do we have these gut reactions, but do not know where they come from? How often do we act on them without being able to understand why? We are complex beings who are in a constant state of primal monitoring of the threats and pleasures around us. Do we understand them? Are our actions always in alignment with what they mean? Do we sometimes conflate the signal with the reaction? Or do we inflate the meaning and overreact?
This is the human condition. Subconsciously monitoring our environment. Trying to make sense of primal reactions, while listening to what our internal dialog is telling us. Attempting to manage our responses.
By the end of the month, I’ll have the left eye done. Then I can monitor with even more clarity (as long as I can tolerate the beeping of the oxygen machine triggering my flight response). Ultimately, I’ll improve my vision if not my view of my world.