Preparing for Surgery

TERROR, just a part of our life now…

Preparing for surgery, for me, was to run around as fast as I could and do everything possible to not have to think about the nightmare I was living and how afraid I was. From diagnoses to surgery was a 2 1/2 week span during the Christmas holidays and I was trying to forget and go on autopilot by “distractions.”

A dear friend of mine asked me if she could come over and explain how to calm down before surgery. She had been faced with a rare nonmalignant tumor and had her share of adversity. I was bitter, angry, terrified and closed hearted! But she was persistent and I am sooooo thankful she was!

This is what she introduced to me.  Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster by Peggy Huddleston.  I remember sitting on a bean-bag chair with J, in our family’s play room.  I was uninterested,bored and couldn’t wait for her to leave so I could distract myself some more.  I hated sitting quiet!

But I changed in those few moments.  A change that I needed to experience, which pioneered the beginning of being open to many many more changes to come. As I sat and listened to a tape of how this book came to be, and why it was important, I felt this feeling that I NEEDED to hear this.  Without going into too much detail, here are the steps that saved me not only through surgery, but many terrifying procedures that I needed to face that I was unaware at the time.

1.  Your mind is a powerful part of healing and how you think of things will determine how you will heal.  I HAD to change my rage and anger statements to positive statements that were less fearful because I was pumping those negative feelings into my body to feed my anxiety.  Things like “I am so thankful for modern medicine to help me heal.” or “I will be comfortable and heal well,” were more healthy than, “I hate this experience and it is all bad for me!”

2. Emotions and attitudes lesson pain and anxiety.  That is a powerful thought and I wanted to believe it.

3.  The book explains that you can hear during surgery and that it is important to be in a relaxed state for your body to respond at its best. Dr. Huddleston explains to have positive statement told to you during surgery, that you bring to your anesthesiologist to read to you while you are asleep. 

4.  She has a 3 step process that helped me so much.

a.  Anchor to peace by listening to a relaxation tape to learn how to calm yourself. This was difficult for me as I was not “in” to yoga and mediation at this time.  Peace speeds recovery and allows for less medications.  I liked this statement because I was not a pill taker.

b.  Think of someone you love and get heart centered.  This brought good feelings of comfort and warmth to your body.

c.  (My favorite) Call on some special people to be your “Pink blanket of Love” and ask them to think or pray for you at the exact time you will be having surgery, a procedure, chemo or radiation.  Tell them it will be at 9:30 a.m. on  this date.  As you are there ready to go into surgery at that very moment, think about that support group sending powerful positive messages to you or praying for you.  As Peggy   puts it, it will feel “utterly delicious and peaceful.” I have done this and it works!  I testify of the power of prayer!

d.  Tell your doctor and anesthesiologist to say positive healing statements during surgery because you can hear them! You are the consumer and you have the right to say what happens to you.

5. Patients who feel empowered by being involved in how they heal do better as they heal.  

My friend J gave me a gift that day that I didn’t know I needed.  I am posting it because often, in our fear we stay closed to things that may be the very thing we need.  For me, it was these wellness ideas.  I have passed them along to others.  If you have something that helped you, don’t hesitate but pass it forward.  We need each other.

EVERYONE NEEDS A LITTLE LUCK

Prepping for St. Patrick’s Day! 

MAKING A FOUR LEAF CLOVER

The four leaf clover is a good-luck charm because finding one is very rare.  

The leaves stand for HOPE, FAITH, LOVE AND THE EXTRA RARE LEAF STANDS FOR GOD– FOR GOOD-LUCK.

To make one for yourself, your mom or dad, your sister or friend to take with them to appointments, surgery, chemo, radiation, or any other time is fun, easy and meaningful.

 SIMPLE DIRECTIONS:

1.  Take a piece of green construction paper and fold in half, if you do not have heart paper punches.

2. Cut four half hearts in similar sizes for the petals, from the fold.  (If you are making a small good-luck charm you need to make your hearts very small.)

3.  Open the heart petals and glue together from the center point.  Cut and add a stem.

4.  To laminate place between a piece of packaging tape.

5. You may punch a hole and make it as a necklace or bracelet, or just give to place in a pocket or wallet.

5.  Give with a card explaining what the petals stand for.

6.  For St. Patty’s day you can be creative and make up a limerick to go with it for fun

There once was a dumb ugly bug

That threatened to pull out our plug.

But with hope, faith and love, and God from above,

We can get through this strong with a hug.

 

Check out my other blog for more fun ideas.  www.JenniferCalvertEdwards.wordpress.com

Surgery ideas coming after St. Patty’s day.  Remember you can laugh with cancer!

No one can cut your soul!

What do I do now: 

Surgery or not?  What kind?  What should I do?

 Dear One,

You feel overwhelmed by all the information dumped on you after finding out you have cancer.

To add to it you must now make the decision to have surgery and what kind.

This will be the beginning of many decisions  you thought you would never have to make.   I am not going to say get used to it, because you never will!

Remember it is a process. If you are a religious person, prayer is part of it.

 Experience affords expertise. I have had seven surgical procedures since I first found out I had cancer over a three year span. Seven is too many!  I could have had less if I would have only known and knew how to ask more questions.

 My advice:

 1. Don’t let “them” hurry you through the process of surgery if you have that luxury.  I had to decide in one week.  I wish I had made a different choice.

 2.  This is all new.  The very thought of cutting pieces of your body off, or open, or out is awful, horrible, and …stop earth I want to get off!

 3. My anger and stubbornness was my enemy. Try to stay open even though all options sound terrible and you are still rebelling that this Is you everyone is fussing about.

 4. In hind sight:  Go with the kind of surgery that is least invasive to your body but will allow you peace of mind and health long term.  How do you know which that is?  Get your pad and paper out as you read and learn. Write down as many questions as you can think of. Ask, Ask, Ask!

 5. I wish, I wish, I wish someone told me to do this!!!!!   Talk to your Cancer center and ask to speak to other survivors that are similar to your condition.  They can give you expert advice that the cancer center cannot give because they have not been through it themselves.

 6. Ask if you are eligible for the genetic testing.  DO IT if you are.  Knowledge is power!  It will give you more options when you think of surgery.  If I had known I had the cancer marker before I had surgery I would have eliminated several surgeries and my decisions, my healing, and my body image would have been easier to face.

 7. Once you have made your decision prepare for surgery. (My next blog post)  Remember loosing a piece of  you is a loss, a death.  You will mourn.  But remember, Cancer is cut OUT!  Bye Bye you Dumb Ugly Bug!!  Keep your perspective.

YOU ARE GOING TO LIVE!

Have Faith or rely on someone elses for a little while…

 

Identity Theft

What did I do in the beginning? 

I took out a pen and paper and I wrote, and wrote and wrote

  trying to make sense of it all…

When the storm began…

Identity Theft

I live on a very quiet street in a small town and I like it that way.  My home is tucked behind my neighbor’s home on a private drive.  I am quiet and shy.  My life is safe and predictable. But one day, that all changed. One day a thief came in the night and stole something— the thief stole me.

It was in early December.   Everyone, including me, seemed to be pulling out nostaligic Christmas boxes of decorations, going out to buy Christmas trees, hustling to bring in the Christmas cheer.  That was when my identity was taken, completely by surprise.  I did not realize, as I was doing preparations for this time of the year, that there was darkness lurking outside, looking through my windows.  The darkness must have been there, plotting, for a long time.  I was not prepared; shocked that darkness could sneak through my fortress, my place of safety, my home.  But it didn’t stop there. That darkness somehow, penetrated my body, and I was to never be the same again. I was kidnapped from my life! My identity, as I once knew had shattered.

It was then I found I had cancer.

Here is how it went in my memory:

First, I was blindfolded and squeezed tightly through a window—(mammogram and ultrasounds) and pulled out into darkness with shrubs and branches rubbing against me by my abductor.

Then I was put in a dark trunk stomach down, feeling weird and awkward. My heart was pounding in my chest and my body trembled. (core tissue biopsy)  I must have been beaten at this time because I came away from the trunk bruised, cut, and sore.  I was too scared to remember or fight back.  I did not know where “I” was.

 I felt isolated.  A woman came in to my room (my surgeon) and very calmly told me my life would never be the same.  Then she proceeded to tell me more. She left the room and even though I could hear voices, I instantly felt locked out of the world.

(The first time that I heard I had cancerous cells and would need surgery.)

I sat in shock. I wanted to go home.  I wanted to be with my family.  I wanted to eat dinner around my dinner table, or do a load of laundry, or drive one of my kids to practice.  I wanted to go back to my life. But all that I could feel was frozen and I knew I had to sit quietly and wait…

 Wait?  I am not sure for what.  But after any type of unexpected shock that takes you by surprise, there is a time to just keep quiet and take in what has happened.  This is what I needed to do. To let it all be absorbed and to try to get a grip in my mind of what just happened to me.

I mostly felt numb. I could not concentrate.  I tried to pretend this was not happening.  I would try to distract myself with what was around me, but it didn’t take the fear away.

I would sit in a corner and cry. When I would sleep, I was trying to escape from the terror of it all. When I woke up, I was reminded it was not a dream.  I felt angry, I screamed, I yelled.  I pinched myself— I wished to sleep, to have release! I curled up in a ball and wished to disappear, but in a way– I already had.

But the torture had only begun.  I was taken out of the dark room and placed in the middle of New York City during the Christmas holiday and was put in a chair, tied up.  I could see every part of the world bustling. I felt cold and uncomfortable.  (Telling everyone I had cancer)  People, in their hurried lives would bump into me, and many would ignore me and walk right by. Some would smile and wave. People would pat me on the shoulder and say, “Oh, that is really sad.”  And keep walking.  Some would even stay awhile and ask what happened or why I was there or even go as far as ask to help.  But then they would hug me and would hurry on with their lives and I would sit there and watch everyone, and yet still feel bound. And I wished to be released.  I wished for Christmas. I wished to be back in my life. I wished my wishes would really come true.

It was then that my outward appearance began to change.  I was cut and stitched. I was drugged and became sick. I lost all of my hair. I lost my eyelashes and eyebrows.  My eyes did not belong to me.   I would look at my reflection and see a white ghost of a human and wondered who I was looking at.  Where was me!? I had not only been kidnapped from my life, but my identity had been taken as well.

Then the stirrings inside me began.  That is when I decided I had to plot my escape from this thief.  The situation was not going to go away. The old frightened me would have been submissive to this fate.  But, the new person coming out, did not want that to happen!  I WANTED TO FIND MY LIFE!!  I wanted to be me and be a part of life.  And now, I had to decide how I was going to do that after being kidnapped and treated so unfairly.

First I knew I had the desire to try.  I had already done the hard part—focus on a goal!  I wanted to get my mind away from the terror of the situation and move on to what I wanted it to do for me.  Sitting in a dark room waiting for the abductor (cancer) to get me is not going to make life worthwhile— I may not be able to take that out of the situation, but I don’t have to dwell on it every second.  If I dwell on that fear, it will take me over.  It is okay to cry, it is a tension release.  But then, I get up my resolve to make the most of the situation. I have to work at it!!  I still never know when my abductor will attack.

Next, I need to discover what I have to work with.  And as I do I find things I did not realize, that could be helpful for me!  That is when the real focus of the situation becomes powerful!!  The miracles begin to unfold.  The wishes become real.  The attitude of the situation becomes changed.  The learning, molding and shaping of the new me begins to unfold.

For me there are 3 specific things that I have done thus far:

First and most important is my faith in God. I believe that God loves me.  That I am special to him and he understands me. I hold on to the knowledge that I am not alone in this trial.  That God is with me.  Things from God are good, and happy, and full of light and hope. My abductor is evil and dark.  I believe that darkness eventually is taken over by light. So I try to stay positive, feel grateful and pray…a lot.

I appreciate little things. My soul is more open to spiritual things.

The second thing is that while I am held hostage in a room there are little birds that fly in and out constantly.  (my support group.)  Some have stayed with me as a constant vigil, like they know that I do not want to be alone.  Others bring me crumbs to eat regularly, some sing me beautiful songs, and some just sit close and let me feel their warmth.  I am learning that I need little birds! Facing challenges alone is not good.  They give me strength and a will to keep going.

The last thing that I have as a tool is a gift from God, a creative mind. I did not think that it would come in handy during this challenge, but I have depended on it.

Before I was kidnapped I used my creativity to bring joy, and fun to my soul and the lives of others.  I use it for that now.  It has helped me make the situation laughable!

I have written silly stories and songs which make me feel light hearted and get me through some of the tortures that hurt or are frightening or disfiguring.

Have I become free?  Have I found where I am?  Not completely.  I am still learning and searching.  But a new person is evolving.  My identity as I knew it has changed.  But I will now adapt to the new me.  And the new me has become richer, stronger, braver, and yes, better.

 

When God sorts out weather and sends rain, Why, rain’s my choice! (A Predictable Process for Joy, By Wallace Goddard)