By Carrie Mills
On September 16th, I found myself being wheeled into hip replacement surgery on Yom Kippur. Speaking of which, I hate to admit it, it’s been a while since I have attended Synagogue during the high holidays, and I’m talking before Covid. However, I must say, if there’s a second-best place to be inspired to pray on Yom Kippur, I’d venture to say it’s being wheeled into an operating room for major surgery. To any Jewish person out there who may have given up on going to Synagogue or praying for whatever reason, I can assure you, if you ever find yourself laying in the pre-op area of a hospital on the way to major surgery, this is as good a place as any to catch up with God. I lay there both praying and conversing with God on Yom Kippur afternoon, pre-surgery at St. Thomas midtown. While I trusted I was in good hands as far as my surgeon was concerned, I realized, more than that, that I was totally in God’s hands, and in that moment, I was struck with a renewed sense of faith. I found myself relaxing into a deep sense of peace and letting go. Honestly, I’d be lying if I didn’t mention the drugs helped too.
I pride myself on being healthy and not taking any daily drugs or medications, not even recreational ones. Though last month when I was being wheeled down the hall on a stretcher, my drug of choice was clearly anesthesia. What’s so amazing about anesthesia is it knocks one out totally. Way past the dream state, way past the insane state of the world, way past the fact that the doctor is going to remove and replace a part of my body. Anesthesia creates a blank space, as if there is nothing going on. No news. And as my mother used to say, “No news is good news.”
Except, then I woke up. Then there was lots of news. First the excellent news that the surgery went perfectly. Then the not-so-great temporary news, which was big news for me, and that was quite literally, in one-and-half hours’ time, I went from being totally independent to being totally reliant on a lot of people. To be exact, I needed a community to help me heal. While I pride myself on being independent and self-reliant, it turns out being reliant on this amazing community I have become a part of was the silver lining to this whole surgical experience, and perhaps the best news of all.
While I have been a part of this Nashville Jewish community going on 20 years, I always felt it was more because of my work and my job. While I’ve always been on the side of attending to our senior population, our Nashville arts community, our ailing community through my work with JFS’s Helping Hands, I was truly unprepared to realize the depth of caring that was about to come my way in the weeks before and after my surgery. Aside from my son, who flew in to be with me through the hospital stay and the first five days, I have no blood relatives here in Nashville. What I was to realize in a very short amount of time, was I have something akin to, if not better than, family. I have a full-on community made up of extremely loving, caring, and generous individuals. Weeks out, I am still in awe of the kindness and loving nature of so many, not to mention the awesome, genuine smiles and cheers when I finally made it back to work after 12 days to direct the hanging of one of the galleries.
So while I never thought I’d ever need, and never in a million years would have ever wanted to have, a hip replacement, I have learned first-hand, in the most profound way, the meaning of community. And to that I say, Hip Hip Hooray!