>On June 30, 2009 I became a cyborg when a surgeon installed a baclofen pump into my abdomen.
[As I have explained elsewhere, (Baclofen Pump, parts 1 and 2) a baclofen pump is a device designed to deliver anti-spasticity medication directly into my spinal column.]
Wikipedia defines a cyborg as “an organism that has both artificial and natural systems.” Thinking about becoming a cyborg made the impending operation seem more like an adventure than a nuisance, though memories of Star Trek’s Borg continuum did give me pause.
It wasn’t until after the operation that I looked at the Wikipedia entry and discovered that my thinking was not that creative. Wikipedia suggests “a human fitted with a heart pacemaker or an insulin pump might be considered a cyborg…” That being the case, we cyborgs are everywhere.
In the last month, the pump has been reprogrammed twice to adjust the dosage of medication. I confess I take a certain joy in it. The nurse practitioner holds her gizmo against my belly and presses some buttons. The alteration is instant and painless. How lovely it would be if other changes in my body(and my life) were as easy.
My post-pump body is significantly different than the body I had two months ago. It is not, alas, my pre-spasticity body. I had fantasies—and I knew that’s what they were—that I might be able to transfer independently after the pump was installed. Instead, I am more dependent. Chances are, I will never be able to get up and dressed by myself again.
Emotionally adjusting to this loss has been surprisingly easy. I am reminded of the differences between “giving in” and “giving up.” No amount of effort on my part will change the reality. I have to surrender to it. On the other hand, I am still here. As Richard Bach wrote in Illusions, “Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t.” I am here, so I am invited to grow and explore, to listen and contribute.
I am dropped into a pool of serenity. This is my new body. This is my new life. My job, as always, is to find the gift in it.