After trying to avoid it for months, on Wednesday April 17th I reluctantly scheduled an abdominal hysterectomy for April 23rd only 6 days later. That night I slept very badly, mentally running through the surgery and all the possible associated problems. My wise inner adult may have been accepting of the necessity and likely positive outcome, but my inner child felt like she was tied to railroad tracks and the train was in sight and getting closer every second!
Thursday night I slept well because I was so exhausted, but again on Friday night I was wide awake with anxiety over this first surgery since I had my tonsils out 50 years before at age 17. I spent the night reading and thinking, and also looking at and sampling relaxation audios online. I needed help if I wasn’t to get to surgery severely sleep deprived!
I had the book Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster http://www.healfaster.com/ at hand, just loaned to me by a friend that same day, and I’d already used it in a meeting that afternoon with the anesthesiologist during my pre-op visit at our local hospital. He was familiar with the book, and had agreed to read me affirmations as I went under, and to assist me in listening to – at an unconscious level – an audio of positive messages during the surgery. However, my friend had not loaned me the CD that goes with the book, so I went looking for a way to download it. Not finding that audio as a download, I did find Successful Surgery by Belleruth Naparstek http://www.healthjourneys.com/MainCategory.aspx?mcid=10
I listened to the online sample, liked her voice and the message, and paid the $13.98 to download it to my iPhone. I took it to bed with me at 5am and fell asleep with it on repeat play. Each night after that it put me to sleep, and I woke up with it still playing. I slept well each of those next three nights at home, and stayed relaxed and positive pre-surgery, during surgery, and for the two nights in the hospital. I did very well, walking the evening of surgery, using minimal pain meds in the hospital, and home less than 48 hours after surgery with only one pain med pill the first night at home, and nothing since then except the herbal anti-inflammatory turmeric.
The audio download (or CD) has four tracks: an introduction, pre-surgery visualization, post-surgery affirmations, and a music
track which is the same music that runs under the other three verbal tracks. (All four can be used anytime, but I used different combinations after surgery than before it, by making playlists.) At about day 3 post-surgery, I didn’t feel like listening to the tracks again. I think they had done their job, but I suspect that some of Belleruth’s other audios might be excellent for me going forward.
I liked it that the affirmations track started with this: “I know there are times when I become worried, fearful, sad or angry, and I acknowledge and accept what I feel as my inner truth of the moment.” That connected with my reality and prepared me to move with the rest of the track.
I had experienced guided meditations and affirmations, relaxing music, Reiki, Yoga, Tai Chi, and other relaxation and healing modalities before using this audio, but I had never had such a pressing need before. The technique exactly met my need, and Belleruth’s voice was a match for me. I did listen to a male voice relaxation audio, but his voice was “slurry” sounding and annoyed me. I would recommend listening to a few different voices if you have the time, to find what works for you. Fortunately, when I was out of time for looking, the right one came to me.
I believe that letting go for surgery, leaving (as a friend said) the cutting and sewing to the surgeons and focusing on the healing that only I can do, is all about soul, and a friend’s recommendation to read Close to the Bone by Jean Shinoda Bolen brought me to these words on page 52: “Difficulties are soul-shaping; they can be lessons that lead us to know who we are, and they can stretch us into becoming larger souls and more authentic human beings than we were before. How we respond to unwanted and unchosen circumstances – such as those which lead to a medical diagnosis and need for surgery – may shape us as much as, or more than, the adversity itself.”
In Belleruth’s words on the affirmations track, “More and more, I can consider the possibility that my body is teaching me something useful, that these circumstances are challenging me to learn and change and grow.”
I can’t close without acknowledging that our local hospital also had Reiki available, which I enjoyed pre and post surgery. I also signed up for massage and for a chaplain visit. The massage therapist wasn’t available, but the chaplain came by and we laughed, talked, and shared a prayer. My surgery team was careful, competent, and caring, and the nurses and aides who cared for me were skilled, kind, and friendly. Their care was of huge importance, but I believe that my attitude and the words I chose to fill my mind were at the core of my experience.