The last few weeks I have been focused on my physical health. After dealing with some ongoing issues I was facing the need to go into surgery and a nervous wait for results.
That alone would probably be enough to make most people a little anxious. To add to the usual nerves and the PTSD. I have always been nervous about hospitals. Enough so that it made having both my children at home an easy decision. (People said I was brave having my first born at home I was actually being the opposite).
I think my anxiety around hospitals probably stemmed from watching my mum go in and out of hospital for years. It felt like they never really helped her. And as a child all I heard about was how awful the hospital was and mum was not getting the right support.
So the need to go in and have an operation was playing on my mind a lot. My ape like brain was doing a great job of presenting all the possible what if scenarios. What if I need to take time off work? What if they find something worse? What if they don’t find anything? What is my PTSD gets worse when I can’t excerise? What if I do not wake up?
In my usual desire to not let the PTSD get the better of me I preserved, had the op and actually I was not as bad as I expected. Prior to the PTSD I had not ever suffered an anxiety attack, after it at times it felt like anything could set me off. But I managed to avoid it which feels like a massive win.
Here are some of the things I think I did to help.
Keeping up the good stuff
You can’t build your house on sand and hope to weather a storm. You need a good foundation. So prior to my op I kept on top of my valuable well-being practices. I was meditating, journaling, exercising daily and trying to get good sleep.
Upping my game
When you know a storm is coming you batten down the hatches. I looked at the areas of my habits that were not helping my well-being and challenged myself to improve them. I tried again to avoid social media before bed. Limit exposure to the news. Read a book directly before going to sleep. Attempted to improve my diet. Some of it I succeeded at some of it I failed at.
Focused on the things I can control
I made lists of things to do before and after the op. I tried to complete a robust handover in work. I prepared for some possible what if scenarios. I saved up jobs I could do while stuck in bed post op and used my time pre-op with the kids and cleaning the house preop.
Reframing my narrative
I gave myself until the pre-op appointment. After that final meeting I enforced only positive thinking. I was determined to frame this thing in the best possible way. Catching the negative thoughts and replacing them with…
- ‘It will a good chance to catch up on some sleep.’
- ‘I have over come worse before.’
- ‘Can’t be worse than childbirth.’
- ‘People have been through much worse’
- ‘Hundreds of people have this op every day’
Cautious with facts if you can speak to real people
I did look at some of the facts surrounding the operation. I mean you can’t avoid some of them as they make you sign a contract that you are accepting of the risks. I was careful though to avoid looking for the wrong information. One of the most valuable things I got to do was speak to someone else that had the same operation the year before. It was so helpful to be able to speak with a real person and ask them about their experiences.
I avoided the panic attack
So I had the operation and even though I was sure it would trigger me, the panic attack never came. I am still waiting on the results but feeling a little better each day and so grateful for the care of a wonderful husband.
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