As I spent the last few days scurrying around (more like running in circles) trying to get many things accomplished prior to surgery, somewhere my mind kept poking me that it was time to slow down, to prepare for surgery. I had been busy “doing things” – laundry, cleaning, putting clothes on the lower rungs of the closet, getting meds filled, shopping at the medical supply store, arranging the bedroom for limited mobility for a couple of days, finding the darn garments to hold my surgical drains, finding shirts that button (no raising my arms above my shoulders), talking with family.
The worst experience, and the one that drove me nuts, was dealing with an abnormal pre-op electrocardiogram – one that was not indicated (I just had one 4 months ago at the same hospital for surgery) but was required by hospital policy, not my physicians. Of course it was abnormal. I have these foobs with magnets and other changes under my chest wall that make reading the electric current haywire. I was in a total panic – no, really, you should know by now that I can get that way internally while looking just fine on the outside. My surgery was being threatened with cancellation. No biggie, except we have this condo in Hawaii sitting empty now that we are paying for, and Sue’s next vacation isn’t for an eternity. So who knows when I could get rescheduled.
Fortunately, I have a cardiologist who knows my history. (Did I ever tell you about having intermittent congestive heart failure from being too fat resulting from a condition called “left ventricular dysfunction” that led to an abnormal stress test, which led to a, which showed that I have perfectly normal coronary arteries? Well, I did. My heart function returned completely to normal after losing about 70 pounds.) Even though my doc was not in the office because it was her turn to run the practice’s inpatient service, her nurse managed to get her this and old ones to compare. Bingo, I am cleared for surgery with a day to spare.
By last night I realized that I had not done any mental preparation for surgery. In fact, I had worked myself up beyond anxiety to anger over the unnecessary ECG. I even developed some nasty heartburn. No listening to the podcasts with the surgery to revise the incisions, so it should be possible to recoup that state in less than 24 hours – gulp. Blogging is part of my plan. Write out some of my feelings. Encourage myself. The rest of the day I will spend time getting my happy hormones (endorphins) going by a little exercise, reading more of Tina Fey’s “Bossypants”, playing with the pets then take time to review my list for the hospital before going through guided imagery and affirmations a couple of times. Most importantly, I will enjoy this beautiful day with Sue because tomorrow I will be totally out of control as I hurdle toward and through surgery.and affirmations that I found so helpful before the mastectomy. No time to sit quietly and chill. No time to enter the state of mind and body that has been shown to decrease anxiety and improve surgical outcomes such as decreased blood loss, less time in the recovery room and hospital, less pain medicine needed. That optimal state is not one of relaxation but of being prepared, a type of calm focus. I have today to help get all of me there. I remember learning this skill successfully before my mastectomy and before