On Flying and Surgery

June 15, 2013

Plane at airport

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It strikes me that there are a lot of similarities between flying and surgery.

Ace wrap on knee after recent surgery.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The most obvious is that it may be best to avoid flying and surgery unless absolutely necessary as both can be painful-and for surprisingly similar reasons.  Traveling light and avoiding the check-in lines and baggage fees alleviates two of the multitude of  problems with flying.  One must first have a ticket, though, and knowing when and where to book a flight makes a big difference.  These are just a few of the many and varied problems with air travel that has led to the publication of a couple of books addressing the unpleasantness of flying:  Attention All Passengers came out last year and Full Upright and Locked Position  was released this year.  With surgery, the close encounter with health care is an omnipresent issue.  Not surprisingly, the issue of the cost for service applies here just as it does with airline travel.  From a financial standpoint it really does matter where one goes and when the procedure is performed, as this report indicates.  Having comprehensive insurance is extremely helpful.

In all fairness, however, both can make life much easier-it certainly is faster and ultimately more cost-effective to fly to California than it is to drive.  Surgery literally can make the difference between life and death.  Being a bit less dramatic, surgery certainly can make life much easier and one with less pain.

The genesis of this blog, though, is the comparison between flying and surgery with regard to time.  It is still an amazing experience to climb into a metal tube and in several hours or so be physically in a completely different place in a different time zone.  This is quite disorienting at first, and yet one adapts.  However, this experience leaves an existential question:  to where does that time really go?  Going into, and then awakening from, anesthesia creates a similar experience-there is a sense of lost time.  Something has happened, on as intimate a level as is possible, and one often (fortunately) has no recollection of what just occurred.  A couple of days ago I had knee surgery.  I remember laying down on the surgical table and having various electrodes attached and then the next bit of conscious awareness I had was of talking to the nurse in the recovery room.  Forty-five minutes to an hour were gone, as was some of my meniscus. Neither are coming back.  Initially, I was not quite sure where I was, but as the anesthesia cleared, time returned.  The procedure was over and I could go home.

Take care.