There are a million different ways to prepare for surgery. One way is to not prepare.
Another way is to distract oneself with movies and friends until the day of, and that day is easy because you just wake up really early in the morning, go to the hospital, check in, wait for awhile, and then suddenly a million nurses and doctors are poking you and prodding you and getting you to sign forms and ripping jewelry out of your ear, and then they give you something to make you comfortable, and then you hug your parents, and then you wake up and it’s finished. At least, that’s how it went last time.
I need to actually prepare. Physically and mentally and emotionally and logistically. For both the surgery part and the recovery part. When I tell people that i’m busy preparing for surgery I wonder if they think this is just code for “I’m busy doing nothing.” Maybe it is. I’m 27 and I just graduated from graduate school and I should be looking for a job. But I can’t because when they call me for an interview i’ll be in the hospital. On morphine. Last time I was on morphine I had whole conversations with people in my head. That does not sound like a good way to get a job. My job right now is preparing for surgery. And after that, my job will be recovering from surgery. And after that, we’ll see.
If I don’t prepare, I imagine that my parents and the surgeon and the surgeon’s nurses whose names all start with the letter “K” and my oncologist will all have to drag me kicking and screaming into the operating room. It sounds like a movie. But that is how scary this feels. Everyone does keep saying this surgery is my choice. So maybe in the non-movie version of me not preparing for surgery, they might not drag me kicking and screaming, they might just say, “So you don’t want the surgery?”
Who wants surgery? I didn’t really get any other good treatment options, so I guess, in theory, I do. It’s scheduled. It’s happening.
So I prepare. I read books. I write down positive things I want to remember like, “This can get rid of SO MANY tumors!!” I make lists of people I need to email and call and things I need to do before the big day. I talk to my therapist. I try to remember the positive things I want to remember when negative things come into my head. I meditate. I listen to guided meditations about facing fears and being confident. I distract myself sometimes. I sleep. I hike. I rest. I try to gain weight. I try to only do things that I want to do and I try to only hang out with people that I want to hang out with.
I’m having a little trouble getting in the zone. I’m 27 and I just graduated from graduate school and I should be looking for a job. Not preparing to be out of commission for one to two months. Last time I didn’t know how long recovery would be–I thought i’d be able to return to school 14 days after surgery. I was barely out of the hospital 14 days after surgery.
This is why I’m preparing. My goal is to be able to deliver myself calmly to hospital admissions on the day of the surgery. And, get myself calmly through all my days leading up to surgery. If I am calm enough, I might get out of the hospital sooner and recover quicker because of it. They say things like this happen.
It might not sound like it, but I think the preparing i’ve done so far is working. I’m feeling a little better, a little calmer, a little more confident everyday. Maybe i’ll even be happy and calm when I wake up on the day of the surgery. This surgery is scary, yes. But it also has the potential to be really good for me. Not quite curative, but at least closer.