Shifting My Thoughts about Surgery


Even though I am 100 percent confident in my decision to get spade next week, I woke up in the night with some anxiety.

And it wasn’t over my disappointment that the doctor (human vet?) says I can’t get microchipped at the same time. (Some silly thing about them not doing that to people. I think it would have been really handy to not have to carry ID anymore.)

When I asked myself what I was really afraid of, what came up was the probability of pain and discomfort—particularly immediately before and after the procedure, the unknown aspect of how quickly I will be able to bounce back, and the dread of not being able to work out and gaining weight as a result.

I think it’s pretty normal for this type of anxiety to come up before surgery, particularly since my experience with these types of medical procedures is limited to a tonsillectomy when I was 16 and an outpatient procedure I had five years ago to try to address the fibroid tumor in my uterus that is now requiring a hysterectomy.

The good news is that every woman I know who has undergone this operation (including my mother and many fabulous readers) has pretty much agreed that it was one of the best decisions they ever made.

Other than the fear of judgment I felt over sharing the news with my readers, this is the first anxiety I’ve had since August when I made the decision to follow my doctor’s advice to get surgery. It makes sense that it would come up now, as it’s starting to feel real.

It’s close enough that it’s beginning to impact my daily decisions—I unthinkingly scheduled a coaching appointment for two days after the surgery, and then later realized that I might not be up for it. I’ve had my pre-surgery appointment with the doctor and have two disinfecting sponges on my bureau that I’m supposed to bath with before the surgery, and the fleece lounge-wear that I ordered to wear home from the hospital has arrived. (While it makes me look like a small, and extremely fuzzy black bear it is warm and shouldn’t bind any sensitive flesh.)

Often times, even when we’re incredibly confident in our decisions, it’s following through with them that is the most challenging part. It can make us question our original decision, create stress, anxiety, depression, and fear, and lead us to backtrack.

This is true whether you are up for surgery, trying to lose weight, just left a job, or just broke up with someone.

Recognizing that it’s perfectly normal for your Gremlin—that part of you that criticizes and tells you that you are less than who you really are—to kick in is a big help in following through with confidence.

As is recognizing that some of the things you are afraid of are true.

For me, there will be discomfort with this procedure. That 23 hours I am in the hospital will be unpleasant. But the more I dwell on and fight against that, the worse the experience will actually be—and I’m prolonging the discomfort of that experience by a week-and-a-half if I focus on the negative part.

Now I’m not denying it—that anxiety is there and I’m allowing myself to feel and acknowledge it—but I have the power to shift how I think about it, or if need be, to change the subject altogether to something more positive.

For instance, using humor (at least the idea that I’m getting spade is funny to me) is one way I’m relieving the anxiety. Reminding myself of why I’m making the decision and the long-term benefits helps shift my energy. Plus, the worst will be over in 23-hours, which really isn’t that much time in the context of my entire life. I can endure a lot knowing that the worst will be over in a day.

There is also the time I get to take off and the quiet and relaxed Christmas I will have. Giving myself permission to use that time to take care of myself helps take some of the pressure off. I’m also mentally prepared to get back on the exercise wagon as soon as possible. My doctor says the best thing I can do to recover is walk and drink water, so I am poised to do as much of that as I can. I have faith in my ability to make the daily decisions that will gently move me back into my exercise routine. Even if I gain a few pounds, I know what to do to lose it.

The holidays themselves will distract me—Christmas movies, presents, eating in moderation. There will be lots of things to appreciate about my recovery time. And, if I get to even some of the things I have on my to-do list, that will be progress.

Good ways to strengthen your faith in your ability to make decisions is to stay focused on your goal, think through the steps you will have to take and accept that some of them won’t be pleasant, give yourself kudos when you make progress, and forgive yourself when you feel like you have fallen short. Then get up again and keep going.

Knowing you are on the right path doesn’t mean it will be easy. Sometimes the way to the most magnificent places requires maneuvering through steep and rugged terrain. It can even get so rocky that you can lose sight of the path. This is a normal part of the journey.

Together we can do it!

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16 thoughts on “Shifting My Thoughts about Surgery

  1. My son is severely autistic. On top of his condition I learned that I am epileptic and have a degree of autism myself.

    I knew that I’d never be able to cope with a second child and so I opted for sterilisation.

    It’s keyhole surgery and very minor… but I was still in pain for two weeks as I healed.

    Do I regret my decision? Absolutely not. Can you see visible scars if you look at my body? You’d have a hard time finding the one under my navel and the one on my pubis is gone.

    Oddly enough, my son’s nickname is Gremlin!

    Sending you much love and support.

  2. Dear Fuzzy Bear- We’ll need a picture of that!
    Any surgery breeds annxiety, but just knowing all is well and will be well is a great mind booster!
    We will count down the days with you with all our vibrations of well being sailing your way!
    Love you!

  3. shifting your energy while preparing for your surgery has been really helpful to me, it has been easier for me to shift mine as well… everything is always working out for us =0)

  4. You expressed that scenario so beautifully. You obviously checked out all the dark corners of your mind. I went through that surgery about 16 years ago. There really wasn’t any discomfort, it was the not being able to lift anything or drive etc. that was a pain in the butt. The creepy part for me was what I called the ‘pump up pants’…You have plastic leggings that pump up with air then go back down,then pump back up. For some crazy reason I was terrified they would keep on pumping up and I wouldn’t be able to stop it…Funny what rises up as fear in us. It really isn’t a bad surgery to have. You’ll breeze through and you at least have loved ones around to help. I was alone. All will go well and as you say, you’ll have a holiday to recover in. So rest easy. I think its the unknown that gets to us the most. Be well and we’ll all say prayers….VK

  5. You’ll probably experience some pain and discomfort, but I’m sure you’ll come through with flying colors!! (I just said a prayer for you and your speedy recovery!)

    “My Breast Cancer Journey” (starting at post #334) may give you some encouragement and inspiration.

    Hang in there!! You’re bigger than any experience you’ll go through!!

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