So You Need Surgery – Preparing Yourself

The Hardest Part – My Emotions

So the hardest part of facing surgery for me is the “Here we go again” syndrome. I feel overwhelmed by everything that is to come. Many feel overwhelmed because they don’t know what to expect; I am not sure which is better. Because it is my favorite coping mechanism, I start with a calendar and a list. For me, focusing on what I can control makes me feel better. Plus I find it easier to deal with anything if I am prepared.

I know my feelings are going to be up and down until it is all over. Some days I am sure everything will be fine, while others I will wandering the house at 3 a.m. worried about everything that may go wrong. On those nights, I work on my plans, or I watch a comedy.

Juggling the Household

Let me use my recent hip replacements as an example.

So I got my dates (month only) in August; my surgery would be in February. That gave me 6 months to stress and to prepare. And I did plenty of both. My daughter was 6 months old and I quickly figured she would start walking right around the time I was going to be on crutches for 2 months. Oh My!  I was also spending most of my day managing the laundry and bottles and special foods and everything else that a baby entails; John was at work. There was no way I could be at home alone with a toddler all day with me on Oxycodone and crutches. We might burn the house down.

My dad had just had his first hip replacement and was scheduled to have his second in January, so he couldn’t help and he would need my mom, so that left her out. I had no other family in the city, so that meant we were pretty much on our own.

So, we had to get help. We had a family meeting with my parents and drafted up a list or responsibilities and a schedule. We quickly realized that we would need a housekeeper/nanny, at least for a while. So, we decided to have the person start in December so that they could get the feel of the house and our family before I was incapacitated.

Getting Help

We interviewed a few folks and finally found one we could all agree on. She saw us through the first surgery. Taking care of laundry, cooking and occasional childcare. My mom helped look after the baby when she could and I spent as much time as I could on the living room couch where I could watch her play and talk to her. I kept trays and pillows over the scar, so she couldn’t hurt me accidentally and I got by.

Because it took so many of us being around to manage the household, I didn’t have to worry about boredom or depression. The house was chaotic and loud and busy most of the day. I would nod off on the couch and wake up to a little face pressed up to mine, wondering what I was doing. In other cases, it was easier to handle the logistics, but harder to take care of myself.

Battling Loneliness

Ten years ago, I had knee surgery, and was laid up for 6 weeks on crutches. My friends were busy and John had to work, so I was on my own all day. Keeping my spirits up was a horrendous battle. I had to make sure I had enough to do all day, so that I didn’t get depressed. If I hadn’t been prepared with lots of activities and projects, I would have lost my mind. Luckily, I had spent weeks stocking up and planning, knowing that 6 weeks was going to feel like a lifetime.

Read the previous post in this series: So You Need Surgery – The Hospital Screening
Read the next post in this series: So You Need Surgery – Preparing Your Home