Coping with Pre-Surgical Stress: To Be a Patient

January 17, 2014

A picture for people coping with Ehlers-Danlos or other chronic illness.

by Susan B Spitzer, PhD

Last week…a perfect coper.  This week…a bundle of nervous meltdowns!  Travel time is only a few days away, and if that weren’t enough (dayeinu!), surgery is only 11 days away…and what about the coping?

OMG!   What seems to stress me most is all the other stuff going on with the normal parts of life.  I am almost obsessed with making sure that everyone will be ok in my absence.  Perhaps this is a ploy by my intrinsic defense mechanisms to give me a feeling of control in a situation that is out of my control?  Hmmm.  Been there and done that many times before.  Or, perhaps these ‘stressors’ from regular life are simply distractions from bigger fears?  Could be. It’s strange how I’m only mildly concerned about having a bunch of crazy surgeons monitoring my every fart while anesthetized (uh…hopefully I will be the only one under anesthesia).  I don’t seem to care that these people will be jiggling my brain, chopping out bones, and implanting enough hardware to create a new bicycle.  Jeeze…maybe I’ll be able to relate to my bike better with so much hardware inside of me?  Anyway, I don’t seem to be very concerned about all that none sense. The thing that does concern me, at this late stage of the countdown, is that the clothes be folded properly for packing!  Why am I the only one concerned about this detail?  It is obvious, at least to me, that wrinkled clothes have a tendency to rip holes into the fabric that separates light from time!  Jeeze.  Can’t you guys see the magnitude of this situation? Even though I can joke about it, the importance of these non-medically oriented tasks seem overwhelming.  The fact that they are also laden with a myriad of emotional swings is my clue that I am upset about something else.  Maybe I really am upset about the surgery.  Ya’ think? I don’t know all the answers to my mysterious mind and brain, but I have decided to change my coping strategies a bit.  Instead of thinking of myself as a wife, mother, and invalid, I am shifting into the role of patient who is headed toward recovery.  It takes patience to be a patient, and I need to patiently wait as I go into this homestretch of becoming a full-time patient.  Hospital gowns are just fine looking when they are wrinkled, so that obsession is temporarily out the window (watch out space travelors). I suppose this waiting period will be chock full of emotions, as it should be.  It’s hard to accept the notion of getting sicker before better.  I don’t like it, but it is probably better than having your farts monitored.  Shortly, the role of full-fledged patient will arrive and all of the nervous energies can be directed toward such mundane tasks as bathing and getting better. It is only 11 days until my focus can shift to recovery.  I very much look forward to working hard in rehab, and only minimally fear the pain management part of this scenerio.  One day at a time and, for today, I am a patient in waiting.


My Brains are in My

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(c) Susan B Spitzer, PhD 2019