I have had a pacemaker implanted for many years but I am not self reliant on it. It is there because a genetic defect sometimes during stress can cause issues with my heart that the pacemaker takes care of. I found out a few days ago during a checkup that the battery had died and since they cannot be changed I was scheduled for surgery yesterday to have the old pacemaker removed and a new one implanted. I told the surgeon that I wanted to be awake for the procedure and that I did not want any sedation. He asked if I wanted a bullet to bite down on and I said no, I would do zazen instead. So he numbed the area on my chest where he was going to make the incision and I started. Since I couldn't sit cross legged and had to lay on the operating table I had to modify it slightly. Instead of just sitting I just laid. I noticed my breathing and tried to not think. There were a couple of times when I noticed pain or discomfort but was able to let it pass and return to zazen. More than that though it wasn't a whole lot different than doing zazen on my cushion. My mind would wander to things that had nothing to do with the surgery and I would let those thoughts drift away and return to not thinking. Every now and then the surgeon would ask if I was okay and I would respond "Great". One time when he asked how I was the nurse told him that I was meditating. After about 45 minutes he stitched up the incision and said "that's it, all done" and I stopped my zazen. I was ecstatic. I was not drugged up and I didn't have to spend the night in a hospital. In fact, since I hadn't had any sedation, I was driving myself home an hour later.
I hope this doesn't sound like bragging because that's not why I'm relating this story. I just wanted to tell someone what zazen did for me and most of my family and friends wouldn't understand so thank you all for letting me tell it to you.