Monday, September 21, 2015

What are you grateful for?

Today is World Gratitude Day.  This is the first that I've heard of this.  I'm grateful that someone decided to name a day for gratitude, to encourage people to stop and think about what they're grateful for.   

Gratitude is an amazing, profound emotion to feel. It's much more than being thankful and goes much deeper.  I think of it as indescribable and almost inexpressible, that saying "thank you" just isn't enough. I have felt it in every cell of my body.

In March 2002, I made the decision, after much urging by two gastroenterologists, to have abdominal surgery.  I had been suffering with major intestinal obstructions and something needed to be done.  Either my small intestine would burst or I'd starve if I didn't have the surgery.  I was terrified, however, deeply terrified.  First, I'd never had major surgery of any kind. Second, I'd never been a patient in a hospital.  I'd worked in hospitals as a volunteer so their culture and operations were familiar.  But as a patient, I'd experience it all from a much different, extremely vulnerable, place.

At my consultation with the surgeon, I told him immediately that I was terrified, that I'd never had surgery, that it was all impossibly daunting.  He told me that it would be the easiest thing I'd ever done, that he'd be doing all the work for me.  After examining my abdomen, he took my hand and told me that I'd be just fine.  In just that small gesture, I felt reassured and understood.

The surgery went well, was successful and uneventful, i.e. there were no surprises once the surgeon had opened up my abdomen.  I followed all instructions from my surgeon and nurses while recovering in the hospital, and was happy to go home.  I could eat normally again.  To me, this was amazing.  I began my recovery and healing back to normal health.

And I felt a profound gratitude for the surgeon's expertise and his accomplishment with me.  He'd put me back on my feet.  At my last meeting with him, a post-op check, I don't know how many times I said "thank you" to him.  I couldn't stop saying it.  Those two words could not encompass the depth of my gratitude.  He accepted my gratitude with grace and humility which only deepened my gratitude.

I still feel grateful to that surgeon, grateful that my gastroenterologist sent me to him, grateful that he was who he was -- detail oriented, demanding, and precise, with the excellent skills to match.  I had felt thankful to people in the past, thankful to receive gifts or jobs, thankful for guidance, but this was the first time I'd felt that deep, profound gratitude.

Perhaps World Gratitude Day simply recognizes gratitude, or maybe the little things that we're grateful for on a daily basis.  Today, I am grateful to be alive, to have awakened to another day, and grateful that I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and friends who care about me.

What are you grateful for? 

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