Today’s title refers to an acronym well-known to recovering addicts. When “Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired,” those in recovery are in the most danger of giving in to the urge to feed their disease. I have come to regard “HALT” as a useful tool in any circumstance wherein a negative response or impulsive reaction wanders too close to manifestation.

One of the surprising aspects of  “hanging on” pre-surgery has been the sheer number of appointments leading up to the day. It strikes me as absurdly ironic that just when the body can barely take another step, more is asked of it: Any errand or appointment requires (in my living situation) dealing with three flights of stairs; a couple-hundred-feet walk to the car; maneuvering into the car; mobilizing across a parking lot, into a building, standing/waiting, and then doing it all in reverse.

I steeled myself for just such an endeavor today. Upon arriving home, I felt the kind of pain that has come to signal a serious need to end the day, set myself up for rest, and become still. Instead, I entered my apartment to a ringing phone: On the other end was a nurse from the surgery center; she informed me that “R” would be in touch to set up a “meet and greet”—another appointment.

I uttered those words in sheer disbelief: “Another appointment?” I could feel the tears stirring, and my anger wondering if it should enter the fray. To her credit, the nurse entirely empathized, echoing my bewilderment that at this time, more activity was demanded. I kept quiet, ended the call, and thought of HALT.

Hungry? Not much of an appetite these days. Angry? Frustrated, for sure. Lonely? Nope. Tired? Times 10.

So, I realized that my reaction to the addition of another appointment (which, to me in these pre-surgery days translates as additional pain) was a direct consequence of at least half-a-HALT.

With that acknowledgement, I could remind myself that despite the feeling of exhaustion, I was nonetheless still on the road, moving in the right direction. Regardless of more appointments, and thus more pain and fatigue, surgery gets closer each and every day. And with that, I can levy against the flood of negativity, consider my place on the HALT spectrum, and resume deep and full gratitude for what lies ahead.

’Til tomorrow…

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