Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Garden Dreams

Just over one year ago I was in central Oregon on my General Surgery rotation. When I wasn't doing exciting things like suturing skin back together, clamping arteries, controlling the camera during laparoscopy, inspecting newly resected bowel for tumors, inserting catheters, and being agressively quizzed about the indications for endoscopy, I was standing and waiting. Surgeries can last for hours at a time (the longest was seven!), and sitting is considered wimpy.


During these long stretches of time I became a master daydreamer. While maintaining steady pressure while retracting back layers of tissue, I was designing the perfect birthday cake. As I forced my eyes to appear interested and earnest as I observed the surgeon perform the twentieth gallbladder removal I'd seen, I created throw pillows for my home. While holding up the pannus of a morbidly obese woman during a hernia repair, Leonard and I were on a beach enjoying the perfect vacation.

The majority of my daydreaming time, however, was spent in my future garden. It was huge, with rows upon rows of peas, corn, carrots, and other produce that I had raised from single seeds. In the late morning, wearing my fashionable gardening apron that I had designed during an appendectomy, I would weed, fertilize, and tend my garden. While Leonard looked on sipping homemade lemonade whose recipe I had pondered during a colonoscopy, I was harvesting my crops. While repetitively contracting and relaxing my leg muscles to prevent fatigue from prolonged immobility during a long operation, I was cooking my harvest and pouring the product into canning jars outfitted with labels that bore the name "Farmer George Canned Goods," a title I had come up with during a fine needle biopsy. These moments in my imaginary garden were a respite from the intense, sleep deprived life that I had voluntarily signed up for. The garden represented all things that my life was not: slow, calm, relaxed, balanced. Scolding myself for the infliction I had put myself through, I vowed that my gardening dreams would be a reality the following spring.


Here we are now, over one year later. Leonard and I moved into our home too late in the season for a sizeable garden, and had to settle for a few plants in our backyard flower beds. Next year we plan on having raised beds, and my gardening dreams should come true. Still, some part of me feels I have betrayed my one year younger self. That is, until the other day after work, when Leonard and I were in the backyard. We noticed that a small, green tomato had erupted from one of our tomato plants. Excitedly, we inspected this small fruit and made plans for late summer meals. I realized then that my dream of a slower, more relaxed life had come to pass. There is a season for everything, and now is a time of transition. Over the next year I've got to plan and execute my design for raised beds, and of course sew the perfect fashionable gardening apron. I think surgery Megan with her dark under eye circles would approve.