Facing My Greatest Fear

At the time many of you are reading this, I will be experiencing the one thing I fear the most — entering the surgical suite of a hospital to undergo surgery. While it is unrelated to my spinal cord injury, it is something that must be done…something I can’t ignore since it is causing me considerable pain, restless nights and undue mental and physical stress. In fact, I have waited too long and now it has become urgent.  And, while it isn’t a life or death procedure, I am terrified as to what ‘could’ happen since the last time I was in an Operating Room the unimaginable occurred. With the slam of a mallet my life’s direction changed.

My shrink tells me it’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — a fancy name for how I am feeling. However, it doesn’t make me feel any better. Not that it should. In fact, when I actually allow myself to sit and think I find I can’t breathe. I don’t feel sorry for myself or want others to either. I actually feel sorry for the nurse who will be with me in pre-op prior to surgery. While I am armed with techniques to help manage my racing thoughts, there are times when I can’t calm my mind enough to even think through the techniques. Medication is an option; however, if I don’t allow myself to feel this experience, will I ever be able to get through it?

When I explained my surgical past to the new surgeon he was curious. He couldn’t help but laugh when I told him about my broken toe during my hysterectomy. Yes, I believe I have forgotten to write about that past experience in the blog. That was two years prior to my spinal cord injury. I believe he chuckled since my husband and I were laughing since it is a bit comical and only happens ‘in my world’. The bone could not be repaired and an artificial toe joint was used. Yes, my track record on the operating table has not been one that spells s u c c e s s and I feel I have earned the right to be concerned about medical procedures.

The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Many people who go through traumatic events have difficulty adjusting and coping for a while. But with time and taking care of yourself, such traumatic reactions usually get better. In some cases, though, the symptoms can get worse or last for months or even years. Sometimes they may completely shake up your life.

I believe the definition falls short since many PTSD patients may be reminded of certain traumas due to instant uncontrollable triggers, in my case, surgery, hospitals, doctors, etc., and for soldiers returning from serving in war zones, hearing gun shots or fireworks, which may remind them of horrible events they witnessed. The mind is so complex and the expression…the mind has a mind of its own...is so true. I wish I could just stop thinking — turn my mind off when it turns to unpleasant thoughts or reminders of my injury and Dr. Liar. However, I can’t…and now I am doing the one thing I fear the most. No choice, no control.

God’s plan has led me in this direction — to this particular surgeon, on this day and is by my side in the Operating Room. And, if something should go wrong, I have proven I can make it through difficult times. In fact, I am smarter and stronger. While what will happen is in God’s hands, I have spent the last few days worrying, researching the doctor and hospital, and preparing myself mentally as best I can, but as I write this post the expression ‘Never trouble trouble till trouble troubles you’ keeps popping into my thought process.

While my heart knows worrying about a situation doesn’t help change it or add value nor does it change the outcome, I wish my heart would communicate this message to my mind. While it is unusual for me to not discuss a topic prior to its occurrence, I decided to only share my surgery with a few friends and family members. I am unsure of the reason. Maybe I am tired of being the patient and discussing my medical woes. Perhaps I was worried I would jinx the procedure.

Whatever the reason, I pray when I wake from surgery, I will feel the normal amount of pain, but in addition, I also hope to feel a different emotion — gratitude.  Following this surgery, I hope to be grateful to those who help me overcome my greatest fear and continue to prove to others and to myself that I am truly a survivor.

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About mswd

I am an individual living with a spinal cord injury. How the injury occurred, how I found out how severe my injury was and how my planned life suddenly became 'unplanned' is included in this blog. Also included is how the injury has tested my family and me. I believe you will discover it has been both a mentally and physically challenging ordeal and I learned a few lessons along the way. While I am still defining my life’s purpose since the injury, I have uncovered those who are injured, live with pain or have other obstacles to navigate are never able to escape. However, come with me as I explore ways to improve my life, learn to live with multiple neurological conditions, educate others and look for the silver lining. I believe with a little willpower, my caring family and God's guidance I will learn to forgive, hopefully forget how I was treated and dismissed by a doctor and uncover life's new purpose. I pray for painfree days and answers to questions that keep swirling through my mind. I also pray for a cure for neurological conditions and for the doctors to treat their patients with respect. Welcome to my journey. I would love to hear about yours!
This entry was posted in Dr. Liar, God, Gratitude, Hurt but not Broken, PTSD, Spinal Cord Injury, Surgery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Facing My Greatest Fear

  1. Chatter Master says:

    God bless Marsha! Good thoughts, a prayer for the surgeon’s hands to be guided by the Greatest Healer, and angels to keep you company while you go through this surgery. Please let us know when you are home and resting and that you are “okay”. I’ll be thinking of you.

    • mswd says:

      Colleen ~ thank you for your message, thoughts and prayers! I couldn’t have asked for things to go any better. The surgical staff were outstanding and understood my concerns. They got me in the OR quickly and talked to me about everything. Before I knew it…I was waking up in Recovery and was surrounded by caring, loving people. It was such a different experience from the last time I was in the OR/Recovery. A bit sore…as I am sure you know, but will be fine. Getting a lot of rest…I am so stinking sleepy. Not taking pain meds, so it must be from not sleeping prior to the surgery. Or, the patch behind my ear to keep my from being nauseous. Whatever it is…I am loving it. How are things with you…you must be worn out from the past week. Are things back to normal? I have to catch up on your blog…one thing I am going to do tomorrow. Thinking of you and your family…XO Thank you again!

      • Chatter Master says:

        We are all well here. Hot. But well. Power is restored. Everyone seems to be trying to “catch up” from the past week of storms and the heat is suppose to start to go away. Hot today. Less hot tomorrow. 🙂 Thank YOU for asking. I’m so happy everything went well. What a world of difference between your 2 experiences. Good on you for not taking pain pills! Those things can cause so many problems!!! But don’t suffer either. I hope today is wonderful for you. I suspect maybe the concern and care of the people might be part of your ability to relax and feel sleepy. 🙂 God bless!!!!

  2. neurovantage says:

    If you’re reading this, you’re fine! If not, then you have better things to do! Take care, my friend. 🙂

    • mswd says:

      It’s two day’s later…and I am fine. Will fill you in about all the medical stuff later. Can’t stay awake for more than a few hours. 🙂 It’s crazy…cause I usually only sleep for a few hours! Thanks for your message!

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