I went for my pre-surgical visit this past week having gotten clearance from my cardiologist, infectious disease physician and internist that I can survive hip replacement without having a heart attack, cellulitis infection or a cold.
This visit is to get all the gory details so I won’t be surprised, and scared enough to take my decrepit hip and go home before the surgery. But the details, although couched in smooth sounding verbiage did nothing to lower my blood pressure. The visit was benign enough until they said they would prefer to do a spinal anesthetic with some Versed rather than a general anesthetic. REALLY!?!
While most people are afraid of a general anesthetic, I have had lots of experience with it and I get some of the best sleep I have had in years. I love Versed and have often asked if I could have a “to-go” bottle because it also gives me the best power nap experience – short, deep and sweet.
A spinal anesthetic is something I have managed to avoid for 60 years. I even went through natural childbirth in an effort to circumvent the dreaded spinal block. Okay, Francesca was born during the natural childbirth craze, but I wasn’t doing it to be in Vogue, rather out of fear. Thirty five years later, the words spinal block sends an alert to all my organs, choking the life out of them and essentially turning them into stone.
Apparently the shock, tension, fear and the fact that all the color drained from my face was enough to make the doctor state that if I wanted a general anesthetic, I could certainly have one. The decision could be made the morning of the surgery with the anesthesiologist. Very smart on their part because once in pre-op, stripped of my clothes and tethered to an intravenous infusion of fluids, I am like a cowboy tied to a stake and ready for the Indians to light the fire.
However, they began to explain why they preferred the spinal block and Versed rather than the standard general anesthetic. Patients that have a spinal block have less loss of blood, they recuperate faster, their pain is managed much better and there is no chance of waking up with so much nausea that you need to hug the porcelain goddess. It made a great deal of sense and I could mentally understand their reasoning. Mentally – I get it. Emotionally, – forget it!
But I realize I have a choice. Using the anacronym F. E. A. R. I can Fear Everything and Run or Face Everything and Rise.
There is a reason they have this pre surgical visit a week before your surgery. You have the rest of the week to exhaust yourself with fear and finally come to a place of peace. Let me share with you what helped me go from panic to peace.
I call it Christ’s Plan.
- C I unequivocally communicated my fear and concerns with my surgeon and sought those that had spinal blocks to become educated, empowered and informed
- Home Planning. I prepared for the changes the surgery will create in the home. I know that I will not be able to bend over to clean out the litter box (oh, dang!), pick up stuff that drops on the floor, put on my socks and shoes without an aid, bend at the hip less than a 90 degree angle, cross my legs or sit in a low chair for the first 6 weeks. I am already starting to think about what changes need to be made and how those things will be accomplished. “Oh, Thad!”
- Relaxation Techniques. I am using relaxation techniques, imagery, and visualization, and music therapy to aid with my anxiety.
- Information Gathering. I have done a plethora of research on the doctor, the procedure, and trust that I have made sound decisions that have led me to this point. I also have talked with those who have had experience with spinal blocks and suffered no ill effects.
- S I am heaping prayers on the surgeon, his surgical team, anesthesiologist, nurses, and hospital as well as myself. I am utilizing bible verses.
- Techniques for Coping. I am keeping my mind centered on the long-term benefits of the surgery rather than the temporary discomfort that may be associated with this procedure.
- Pain Management. I have talked with my surgeon about what types of pain management are available and work best for me. For instance, most pain meds make me disoriented, dizzy and constipated within 24-48 hours. Therefore, my surgeon and I have a plan of action for my pain.
I won’t lie to you and say that I won’t be nervous come the day of the surgery. Even a seasoned actor goes onto the stage before an audience with some level of fear. I will let them strip me of my clothes and tether me to IV’s but I won’t let my fear start a roaring fire, nor seize and freeze my heart. For there will be more acceptance, faith, and trust than fear inside me as they prep me for surgery. And as I am positioned on the operating table, I will be wrapped in the arms of God. He has been with me every step of my journey and no matter what lies ahead, he lies there with me. No needle in my spine can ever remove that belief or vision from my soul.
So bring it on! For I am ready for F.E.A.R. – Face Everything And Rise!