Time to gear up those mental and psychological muscles. My daughter, Nava, is going in for surgery tomorrow. Something else is coming out – 9 years ago it was the colon, now it’s the gallbladder. A very common surgery as we all know. But surgery is surgery and going under both the knife and anesthesia is a bit nerve-wracking. They’re hoping to do it laparoscopically but don’t know what sort of scarring they’ll find inside from her last surgeries.
Nava’s been expressing her anxiety about this surgery and my response has been what I ‘preach’ against -“don’t worry, you’ve been through so much worse, this is no big deal.” Wrong, wrong and wrong. This is not what to say. Of course it’s scary and a big deal to the one going through it. Where’s my acknowledgement of her normal feelings of concern? At lease I’ll have another chance when she comes home tonight for her favorite requested dinner of chicken cacciatore.
I’ve been having my own silent worries during sleep time, waking up the last few nights with that jittery feeling in my gut. Otherwise I’ve been playing it down for myself. After all I do know the life-threatening crisis she went through and this is no big deal, as long as it all goes well.
And that’s the key – not to let myself go to the worry of where it doesn’t go well, and start to conjure up the ‘bad what-if’ scenerios. I work hard at stopping myself from going there. It’s a waste of energy needed for what’s real at the moment and more important to me is it puts me in a ‘bad’ place mentally. Thinking negatively saps my strength.
How to stay in a relatively ‘good’ place before an anxiety-provoking event:
- Once a decision is made, it goes into the hands of a higher power; for me that’s G-d.
- Let go of what you have no control over.
- Lots of long deep breaths. In to a count of 5 and out to a count of 8. Exhales are generally longer to release the body of its tight hold.
- Prayers, meditations
- For a cognitive exercise, put up a mental Stop sign when your mind starts racing with those ‘bad’ scenerios. Consciously reign yourself in and say ‘whoa, we don’t need to go there; that’s not reality now.’
- Acknowledge the anxious and scary feelings. Go with them and then go on.
- Engage in things you have control over; it’s a good way to feel strong and productive. And it’s a good distraction. (I’ve been cleaning out my basement for my new tiger-print carpet soon to be put down – like today.)
- Tell yourself helpful statements. (For me it’s, thank G-d she’s not sick and we’re doing this electively to avoid a future emergency situation.)
The carpet people are calling to me to come downstairs and have a peek at this wild thing I picked out. (that’s why it’s for the basement)
And tonight I will be telling Navi over dinner, “I know you’re nervous. Surgery is scary. Hopefully all will go well.”
Please share a tip (in the Comment section) which helps you stay positive, strong and O.K.
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