As I told you a couple of weeks ago, I had some recent health issues, involving my gall bladder, issues that decided to make themselves known on, of all things, a Monday. A strict low fat diet, to be followed by laproscopic gall bladder removal was prescribed; the surgery scheduled for, of course, a Monday. Last Monday to be precise.
Although delaying the surgery was the best thing for my health, it was positively the worse thing for my nerves. I had 3 full weeks to contemplate everything that could go wrong with the entire business. The more I thought about it, the more worried I got.
And yes I know this is the most common routine surgery performed in the United States. Multiple acquaintances who had the same procedure testified to how quickly they recovered and how wonderful they felt now. But still I obsessed on what could go wrong.
Several things were at work I think. One was probably the diet itself. Going cold turkey (pardon the expression) on so many of my favorite foods, including, chicken thighs, hamburger, kielbasa and chocolate probably got to my brain as well as my digestive tract. I think for each pound I have lost a few brain cells have died as well.
Secondly there is simply my basic Irish melancholy which assumes that if something can go wrong it will, especially to myself. The disclaimers the hospital issues with the information sheet do not help with this at all, as they list the potential dangers of damage to other organs, respiratory problems, hernias and stroke. Regardless of the rarity of such problems I see them all as happening, to myself. And doesn't it seem that every time you hear a hospital horror story it involves someone who had gone in for "routine surgery"?
I especially found myself worrying about the anesthesia. Part of the reason was simple, that a few weeks short of my 53rd birthday, I had never had general anesthesia. In fact for the most part, I had managed to avoid going any further at the hospital than the emergency room, and my only stays, and only local anesthetics had been when my kids were born. In short I have never surrendered total conscious control. For some reason I became totally worked up about this entire concept: "You could never wake up and not even ever know it" and other such disturbing thoughts. Again the hospital handouts cheerfully reminded me that anesthesia is in fact one of the most unpredictable parts of any surgery." Look at it this way," said one friend, "if something does go wrong, you'll never know." For some reason I was not comforted by this.
So I did what any "sane" person would do, I tried to take control of what I could. To this end I created a large manila envelope of instructions, "just in case" as it said on the cover, including copies of all bills, funeral instructions, last letters to a host of people and so forth. Most of this will never see the light of day, because I have every intention of redoing the whole thing in a more orderly and less panicked manner. Because it is a good idea to put all that stuff together, just not in a panic like I did it.
Anyway, the day finally, mercifully arrived. My husband and daughter and I went to the hospital. (The Boy was working at camp.) We went to a prep room where they got me all ready and then let me sit for 2 hours, Finally they took me away. They gave me something to relax me, and the next thing I knew I was in the recovery room. My husband and daughter played 8 games of electronic Scrabble. The surgeon said he removed enough stones to open a jewelry store. They kept me overnight to make sure everything was working fine and sent me home. I went back to work on Friday, since I couldn't get an excuse note to stay out any longer. So far I am a stereotypical success story.
So lessons. Don't over think all this stuff. If the doctor tells you something should be done, and the second opinion (if you feel you need one) backs you up, get it done. Take whatever preparations you need to feel more comfortable with what it going on, but don't educate yourself to the moment of panic. In the end, when you've done all you can, trust whoever is looking after your care. In this case they probably really do know what's good for you.
This post is part of the I Don't Like Mondays Blog Hop hosted each week by Linda Roy, going live this week for the first time at Elleroy Was Here. Check out the hop and the cool new digs.