Healing Process

I’m kind of obsessed with my healing process. My late mom would describe this as “necessary narcissism.” I’m not sure if she coined the term or found it in psychological literature, but she used it when talking about the focus she needed while recovering from major surgery. She said that being selfish while healing was important. This was the one time that putting your own needs first was critical, and much more than merely justified.

We also discussed “hospital psychosis” in which normally sane people experience psychotic episodes or irrational feelings of paranoia while in the hospital. If you have ever spent more than one night in a hospital bed, you’ll recall the disorienting feelings. The lights, the sounds, the smells, plus the lack of privacy & modesty, the physical intrusions, and the seemingly constant flow of strangers in and out of the room—is enough to make anyone nuts!

As I move slowly toward recovering the range of movement and strength in my left wrist/hand, I’m pondering the way disease/disability and healing make people feel, think, and dream through a different lens. Sometimes I’m more short-tempered. Sometimes I’m just exhausted, in pain, and want to cry. Sometimes I feel like my old self is returning and I’m even inspired to write!

I have the advantage of knowing that I will recover, but my writer’s imagination must examine the terrible thoughts of those who know that things won’t get better and that the new normal will inevitably deteriorate. My mom was very wise and she had a long & interesting life that exceeded her expectations, but still the end was difficult and my minor glitch along the way is making me more compassionate and more conscious of what she experienced once she opted for in-home hospice care.

One subject that is wiggling skinny fingers in my brain is the idea of addressing that weird combination of necessary narcissism and hospital induced paranoia in a work of fiction. Perhaps I should start with a short story? Something between horror and psychological suspense…Just a thought—an evil, scary thought…

Embracing my mom’s hand in my own. She bought the silver bracelet when she was very young. I will wear it again soon and think of her…


  1. That phrase “new normal” strikes terror into my soul. It’s gets thrown about all the time in the cancer support group I attend. I’ve decided I am going to be better than normal after all I’ve been through. I’m going to eat better and get into the best shape of my life. I know this is possible given the relatively good health I had going into treatment. I am far luckier than many in that group. As for how dealing with this disease has changed and will continue to change how I look at things, well… I’m writing a memoir about that. Yet, if the cancer should recur then I do have to face that I might still be running on limited time, but for now I can’t think that way and have to cultivate the mindset that I’m now immune and have a few decades left in me.

    • Candy Korman

      I agree, the phrase “new normal” is something from a horror story. That’s part of what I’m thinking about. This morning the surgeon said I’m doing very well and I don’t have to wear the big brace all the time. But I still feel vulnerable and I think the new fragility is something that can ultimately make me stronger. Maybe you feel the same. It’s an awareness, even a hyper-awareness, that is part of healing.

      In the context of fiction, that hyper-awareness is the stuff of psychological suspense. In life, it sets you up for the next chapter. I’m looking forward to reading that memoir.

  2. I had a partial thyroidectomy when I was 38. It was to remove a lump in my neck. The lump turned out to be benign, but the ex and I had an exceedingly malignant argument while I was still in the hospital, and I remember being terrified that he’d take our four year old and disappear. I thought I was being perfectly sane and rational… Talk about drug-induced paranoia. I wish the medical community would warn patients [and their families] of these ‘minor’ side-effects. 🙁

    I’m so glad your wrist is healing well, but I am going to do a Pollyanna on you: I think breaking the wrist was a good thing because it’s given you the time and ‘permission’ to focus on your emotional healing. Your Mum was obviously a very important part of your life, and her passing left a void. I wear my Dad’s wrist watch. 🙂

    • Candy Korman

      And I followed my right-handed dad and wear my watch on my right hand like a lefty! Parents are influential in all sorts of ways.

      I’m not surprised by the thyroid story. Not only were in on medications and residing in a hospital, but the thyroid surgery probably whacked your hormone levels for a time and that’ll make any sane person lose their footing.

      The medical community are often focused on one, narrow aspect of a procedure. Patients can also be mono-focused. I took in the fact that the sedation for the surgery might impair my memory, so I made a big deal of memorizing all the names as people introduced themselves. I’m normally awful with names, I was proud that I could name ’em all. BUT when I received a post-opp survey, I couldn’t say whether or not the surgeon had warned me about potential nausea. LOL… That’s what I forgot. The name of the anesthesia resident, his boss, the admitting nurse, the nurse who took my vitals, the surgeon, etc. those names stuck.

      Our minds are mysterious countries! And that is good for writing fiction.

  3. Karen

    This also makes me think of the out-of-body-ish thing that I experience whenever I have to undergo a procedure that’s perhaps frightening but doesn’t require anesthesia. I wonder, does that happen to other people, too? Seems to me to be another kind of protection, a way to cope. But where do I go when I’m in that state?! (another story, perhaps!) Glad you’re healing, Candy!

    • Candy Korman

      The PT at the specialist hospital said the body creates its own “splints” as part of the healing process. You can move, because you shouldn’t—not at first. It’s a protective mechanism that you then have to fight through with PT as things go along. So, yes… I think you’ve hit on another protective mechanism. It does sound like as start of a story!