Laurel Herman
Chef Instructor, Culinary Storyteller, and Culinary Medicine

Having Surgery in the Time of COVID-19, What It’s Teaching Me

View From VCU Medical Center Photo Laurel Herman

This is the view as I arrived last Monday morning  in the socially distanced waiting room of  VCU Medical Center in Richmond Virginia. The oddest thing was not  having my daughter allowed to go with me.  I  reflect  with deepest respect and reverence for all the COVID-19  patients who have gone to hospitals, without the physical support of a loved one next to them. This is either the safest time to have surgery, or the worst.

I’ve been hesitating whether or not to say what I’ve observed the past few weeks and especially these past few days post op hernia surgery. I’ve come to some profound awareness’s that are MY truths exclusively.

I use the term, “teaching me” in the title because I’m pretty sure I’m not done learning.

I’m not in control. My body is.  Every single move I make,  every decision ,whether I feel strong enough to shower or walk outside is determined by my pain level. I have worried about having this surgery for years. Its impacted my life, my work, And my work is what got me here in the first place.  Doing to much too after a previous surgery. not letting my kitchen team down.  All things that were never me to begin with. I’m here to guide , not work myself to death. what a humbling realization when the body makes decisions for us.

I am going someplace with this.

Whatever controversy is going on, wear a mask, don’t wear a mask are really markers to check in where with we are with ourselves.  Personally, I think it costs nothing for the 10 minutes we are inside a store to care enough about another human being, to be considerate enough to be a good neighbor.

Where is Mr Rogers when we need him?  Having a well deserved rest I suppose. He has left  us with ourselves, and we are lost . We don’t care about being good neighbors  I apologize Mr Rogers ,I wonder if you are watching  us from wherever you are .  

Personal rights, are perceived to  being threatened. Social media wars are the theme of the day.  What  controversy is actually ours and what is not ?  We love to jump on the bandwagon., myself included.  This surgery has made me check myself.   Which brings me to this conclusion.

No government, no person can actually take away ME FROM ME .  If I truly know myself, I mean the real ME , not my job, or  who I  think I  am, or what other people perceive me  to be, no one can take my essence. So I’m NOT threatened.  ( I am also white, which needs to be said,)  You may want to think about that . 

 You may be battered, and worn, and the system is working against you. There are inequities, YES.  But no one can take what is in the human spirit.   If you really knew you…

So many personal wounds have come up for people these past 3 months.  Abandonment, fear, all the big ones. Yes I get it, if you are in business. I am too. I’m not working. I am not making light of of the businesses that will be lost and are suffering during this time.   But what I’ve discovered  is that we as humans are adaptable, even creative, I am changing up what I do as well. Our survival depends on our adaptability. Poor people understand adaptability. It is lost on white America.  WE identify with our work , our comforts as who we are.  It simply isn’t the case.

MY wounds at the minute are deep incision wounds. They have shown me what is superficial, ( other peoples shit) what is mine,  and what is not. It literally makes every decision for me, not my mind.

What goes on in Washington, isn’t my battle in this moment.  Let them duke it out.  Yes I have an opinion.  My only job right now is to listen to my body, and it talks to me every second of  the day now. OUCH !

  In this little window of  insanity, I decided it was time to repair me.  In side and out, quite literally, I’m in repair.

My Ayruvedic  teacher wrote a post about who is the guru, our teacher.  I would have to say right now,my guru is my body. What has this time taught you?

About the Author
Laurel Herman is Chef Instructor, Culinary Storyteller, and Culinary Medicine practitioner, residing in Richmond, Virginia. A classically trained chef in the European style( Thames Valley University, London, U.K. and The Institute for Integrative Nutrition) Her style is anything but classic, its fun, and relaxed. A lifelong career in food, Laurel had the unique experience of being the only woman in a kitchen brigade of 30 men, ( 40 years ago) earning their respect and affection through hard work and determination. Laurel's passion is bringing people together through food. Her workshop and retreat work use storytelling combined with cooking and music to evoke a sense of remembrance. She currently teaches at various venues throughout the Richmond area. She is a strong believer that one way we can fight racism and bigotry of any kind is by helping people have access to clean and abundant food, supporting farmers markets and local vendors. Although not a chef himself, her favorite mythological character is Robin Hood, the revolutionary defender of social equality. Her books, The Blissed Out Chef was published in 2015 and the Inner Kitchen, Balboa press in 2011.
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