As more time passes from my operations I begin to see more of it. Some have mentioned that it is a form of PTSD. It is hard to describe. The best word I can think of is fear. I wasn't fearful at the time but as I look back at it all it makes me extremely fearful.

For the month leading up to my surgery I stayed busy making sure everything was in order when the day came. I paid all my bills and made sure that nothing was owed on credit cards. I had the refrigerator full of drinks and supplies for simple things. I had the freezer full of convenience meals, which growing up we called TV Dinners. I did this because I knew I wouldn't be in any shape to cook meals. Everything was treated like a military operation.

Finally the day came and off to the hospital I went. I was put in my room and had loads of attention. At least a half dozen nurses asked me questions and poked and probed me. I don't remember much of it as I was given muscle relaxers and was put under in my room.

I can still remember the total fear I had when I could hear voices but I couldn't move. I couldn't open my eyes or let anyone know that I was alive. I heard a nurse asking me if I could move my legs. No matter how hard I tried I couldn't move. Finally I heard a nurse whisper in my ear, “You're alright, you came through surgery OK.” I couldn't move and couldn't open my eyes but those were such sweet words.

I spent five days in the hospital from open heart surgery. During that time I never once looked at my chest, nor touched my scar. I felt ashamed that I had a heart problem… I was to young to feel like I needed help. Then when I got home, it hit me and it hit me hard. I came through everything, yet with all my plans I never planned for what would happen after the surgery.

For the first time I was actually able to review everything that had happen. With that I broke down and cried and cried and then cried some more. The emotions of it all hit me hard.

By the end of that first week, I felt weak but I was progressing. I started going for walks and while I still had no energy to make my bed or even open the curtains I felt good about the future. A week after that it all came crashing down and I was back in the hospital. This time I had no plans and was weaker then when I left the hospital the first time. I ended up losing two feet of my colon. And this time instead of emotions getting the best of me… depression got me.

I saw no end to hospitals or the constant pain I was in. Anymore, any little chest pain or stomach cramp puts me right back to that hospital… sitting in that chair in a hospital gown, looking out the window, so drugged up with pain medication that I had no idea what day of the week it was.

When I returned home, I still hadn't looked at my scar from the heart surgery and now I had a new scar, right through my belly button. A 14” scar on my chest and an 8” scar on my tummy.

It was closing in on a month and half that time I spent in a hospital. I finally decided that I needed to get back into some kind of routine. I had a shower and for the first time I touched my chest and my tummy. As weak as I was I had a chair in the shower and I spent a long time touching and feeling my chest and my stomach. And I began to cry. I felt ugly. I have a couple of scars from previous surgeries but these were different. These scars were my life. Not only did I feel weak physically and ugly emotionally, I felt hopeless as a human being. I felt that I would be a burden to everyone in my life for the rest of my life.

These feelings still invade my daily routine. Every time I get up in the morning and make the bed, I remember the feelings of being unable to do this simple task. When I open the curtains, I still have the feeling of wanting to stay in the dark. Every shower, I feel my chest and the numbness is finally leaving, yet I still have a difficult time looking at the scar.

No matter how much preparation I had for the open heart surgery nothing could prepare me for the “after shocks.” Physically, I know I'm healing very well. Emotionally, at times, I'm still living like it was the first month back home.

I'm sure these feelings will lessen in time and in the end I'm truly thankful to be having these feelings at all. You see, three weeks after the colon surgery I was once again back in the hospital. This time I thought it would be the end of my life… so everyday I know I'm a miracle and everyday whether I want to or not, reliving it all lets me remember how grateful I am for this new chance at life.

Author's Bio: 

Dave Harm is a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for over 20 years. He is an NLP Master Practitioner, Hypnotist, and Life Coach. He is the author of three books and the creator of two musical CD's.

He shares his experience and journey on his website