When life gives you hospital beds, find your inner balconies

Today, I saw a Black Kite skirting past the opaque moon against a teal-blue evening sky. It was a refreshing change of scenery. Considering I had been bed-ridden since February. About two weeks ago, my spinal chord was operated upon. The disc bulge in my lower vertebrae had become worse. There was a growing risk of suffering permanent nerve damage on my left leg.

So, I had decided to opt for surgery. Now, I have a giant scar to show for it. If things don’t go according to plan, I may have a T-Shirt idea. Buy one for yourself and get two for your friends. But, strictly no refunds. I have a mouth, below my nostrils, to feed.

I need two more weeks of rest before I can walk comfortably, drive the car, sleep without medication, take a shower without a shiver, quite literally, creeping up my spine, and so on.

These days, I am mostly confined to bedrooms. I am unable to read because I have to keep changing my posture. So, I watch television. I double-check my inability to wriggle my ears. And I cross a daily of 5 levels in Angry Birds 2. But I feel a lot better these days; as opposed to the ghoulish experience that was the post-surgery stint at the hospital.

Especially since I can sit on the balcony and watch resident birds go about their businesses. Sometimes, I get to see sunlit clouds pass through one another. It is very relaxing. I think about how the weather effortlessly turns into a giant paintbrush when the canvas has an audience of one. And how I don’t have to pee into a container anymore.

I live in the heart of the city, but there are clumps of greenery around. I can spot Black Kites, Asian Koels, Rufous Treepies, White-Throated Kingfishers, Rose-Ringed Parakeets, Indian Mynahs, Rock Pigeons and House Crows. Plus, I have Coppersmith Barbets for neighbors. They show up twice a day – with their fiery red plumes and yellowing summer-sauced cheeks.

I have started photographing birds every morning. It is comforting to hold a camera after two months. The sun has also become my object of affection. I look at it through the lens, like a doting father would someone else’s child. We play peekaboo with each other.

Sometimes, airplanes join us. But we don’t particularly care for their noisy participation.

I have begun to notice that it is easy to be self-obsessed during a time like this. I hope that I don’t turn into a jerk who prattles about overcoming obstacles on a fancy hospital bed – with medical insurance.

But still, I wouldn’t want to forget any of it. I want to remember how I fought through the physical pain. The way I secretly longed for sympathy. Everyone who stood by me. All those who didn’t. The body weight I lost. Every new strand of white hair salting my sideburns. The worried expressions on my parents’ faces. The exciting news that my niece has started to learn to play the guitar. The anticipation of seeing Spotted Owlets again.

Being out there in the wild by the end of the year; back to a lifestyle that I was in love with. Being stuck inside four walls – listening to Jim Groce’s Time In A Bottle several times – until then.

Because scar tissues will leave you with lessons that last longer than those inspired by lectures. They teach you that things can go wrong all the time. But it does not mean that you should lead your lives in fear and anxiety. Find your own inner balconies.

And sit out there, patiently.

Because it can be exhausting to try and control your own life’s narrative. It probably requires a lot of effort and patience. But, rolling with the punches before moving on isn’t easy either. In fact, that road can often be rockier.

You may lose friends along the way. Feel bitter. Become more cynical. And grow impatient about failures. But there is a strange kind of comfort in it. One that isn’t necessarily visible to the naked eye. Or that soothes an aching heart It’s just a warm and fuzzy sensation. A lightning bolt of confidence. While it may be impossible to ascertain just how important that is, once you feel it – you will realize that you wouldn’t want it any other way.

Now, I wouldn’t want anyone to go through a major surgery just to pick up a few life’s lessons that can be probably found in a Deepak Chopra tweet. But, if you stumble at some point, do believe in your own strength to wipe the dust off your bruised knees and pick yourself up.

And to my Owlets, Flycatchers, Warblers, Munias, Shrikes, Bulbuls, Orioles, Kestrels and dear readers, I will see you again soon.

When life gives you
hospital beds,
turn those
sunlit windows

into your
inner balconies
instead.

(Photographs: Chetpet, Chennai)

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78 comments

  1. So good to see your post! I’m sorry you are having to go through this. Perhaps binge-watching 4-5 seasons of your favorite show on Netflix (provided you can get this) will cure the ill. Or writing (which is probably more productive).

    Wishing you a quick path to a full recovery…and one that leads to a treasure trove of beautiful birdies.

    PS – Black Kite!! (hair on fire)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Shannonroo ❤ It all happened so suddenly. But, I am much better these days.

      Pssssttt…I ended up watching 3 full seasons of Shark Tank. Because I couldn’t sit upright to write until the past few days.

      Like the guv once said, “I’ll be back” (big smile).

      Liked by 3 people

  2. What a brilliant post and I know just what you mean about inner balconies. I found them too in the hospital after surgery. I called them inner resources, but they are exactly the same thing and once you find you have, and can rely on them, things forever change. Birds definitely link to this in my mind too. They show me daily how to live.
    I hope you are feeling better soon.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Much appreciated, Cindy. I am glad you found yours during a time of need. Resources indeed.The tools that matter when most things fail. Clink! Here’s to recovery of strength through the wings of our feathered friends.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through a major surgery just to pick up a few life’s lessons that can be probably found in a Deepak Chopra tweet.

    Yeah, that’s a problem with the New Age, ain’t it? It can make hard-earned wisdom sound indistinguishable from banal, pre-fab aphorisms.

    I hope you’ll soon be up, about and back to chasing your symbols of unattainable freedom. In the meantime I’m sending you a fellow cripple from my garden who was quickly restored to health (it’s a juvenile barking owl).

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Good to see you return my talented friend, a bit of advice…stairs are NOT your friend. Be mindful of how you traverse them in either direction, forever. There are of course numerous other formerly simple tasks that are no longer so, and each one should be approached very carefully, but my aching, old back prevents me from further listing them! Rest long and well my friend, there are many more birds and undiscovered “balconies” yet to explore.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Doc. That was very encouraging. I am still following the words of advice you had given earlier. Soft-padding has become my dear friend. Tempted to buy animal-themed fluffy shoes at some point in time.

      The once simple chores may infuriate me later. For now, I am grateful that I am able to do a lot more than I was in February.

      Silver linings, I suppose. I wish I had a playbook to show for it!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. oooooh ok so that’s where you have been 😦 very sorry to hear that. but glad that you will be back on your feet real soon. don’t strain yourself by blogging too much. we are not going anywhere 🙂 🙂 take care, Chris!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Drats! No wonder you were hardly posting much. Good to know you are doing better. Stay safe and keep a positive frame of mind, C. Take care. Waiting for you to get back on two feet!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Tried reaching you over the phone but when I didn’t get a response, I was wondering if you had closed the doors to your inner balcony on me.
    So sorry to hear that while I anguished over your silence, you were grappling with surgery.
    Relieved to read that you are doing so much better and managed to pick some profound life lessons while at it. Bravo my friend!
    Ive been trying to reach for my inner balconies too. Sometimes, I manage to step out, hold the windblown railing and let the silence recharge the dimming resilience. Other times, the wet pillow does a stand up job of keeping the nightmares away…
    Not to drag you into my dark corners for I am so happy that you found your footrest on that balcony wall. The grey in the sideburns is well earned my dear C.
    Call when you get your strength back. Lets hope I take that call on my sunny balcony.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aww apologies, Som. Yes, my phone hasn’t been my companion over the past month. And my mind was too cluttered. I knew you would understand. Thank you so much for your beautiful and kind words. They mean a lot to me. I hope to be back on my feet by the end of the month.

      We shall talk soon, dear friend. Keep pursuing your inner balconies. I know for sure that you have the knack and perseverance to find them.

      Liked by 1 person

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  9. Some great lines you have in your post, “secretly longing for sympathy” and “rolling with the punches before moving on isn’t easy either”. Both sentences have made me consider a few things about my own situation and how I may be handling it. Keep keeping it real.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Such an inspiring post! I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to remain so optimistic post surgery. I hope you’ll have a great recovery and get back to doing the things you love! By the way, your pictures are beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww I really appreciate it.

      I felt a lot more optimistic once I realized two things: 1) People I know have gone through worse 2) Pain is helluva reset button (big smile).

      I hope I see you here again!

      Like

  11. So sorry to hear of your need for surgery. So glad you are doing better. You are an awesome writer. i love reading what you write. I understand about the pain. I have been suffering with back and neck pain since 2006 no surgery yet they keep giving me injections and nerve burns most days are the same since cant work as an RN by the bedside anymore. Blessings to you for good healing. Cherri

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww that was comforting and sweet, Cherri. Thank you.

      I am really sorry about the pain in your life. I am sure that it won’t be until too long before you can do everything you could, and wanted to, before. I shall send moon-lined blessings your way. Along with songs from the throats of my feathered friends. Take care ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  12. A captivating post, quite a good read. I admire your courage. What a positive outlook to life! “When life gives you hospital bed, find your inner balconies.” Taking countless pictures, watching those lovely birds through your camera lens, would be soothing…I imagine, takes your mind off the discomfort and pain from the surgery.

    Liked by 1 person

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