Monday, August 2, 2010

What Worked

I was lucky. I knew I would be hospitalized and having surgery several weeks ahead of time. As a result, I was able to prepare and figure out what I needed. Besides finding a brilliant, compassionate surgeon, here’s what worked for me:

: : I purchased and read quite a bit of Peggy Huddleston’s book “Prepare for Surgery, Healer Faster”. I did not follow all of her advice, but I found it very useful. I did listen to her companion relaxation CD - a lot - (which I loaded onto our iPod) and found that to be tremendously helpful throughout the entire process. I listened to it when I felt my anxiety begin to rise in the weeks leading up to the surgery and in the hospital at night when I couldn’t sleep. (Both are available on Amazon here and here.)

: : I created a folder in iPhoto called “Favorite/Special People & Places”. I dragged in photos of family, friends, Bar Harbor, Acadia, favorite digi-scrap layouts and so on. I loaded that folder onto our iPod. Many, many times I flipped through those photos, each of which made me smile. Connecting visually with the people, places, memories and moments I love made me feel good and calmed me down. It also helped me think ahead to what I would like to do after my recovery.

: : I reached out to the people in my life who I could count on. Chuck was naturally and rightfully at the top of that list! I knew I needed kind, well intentioned and funny people pulling for me, each in their own unique way. I sent out the call and the responses bowled both of us over.

: : As soon as I went into surgery, Chuck began sending group e-mail updates to those close friends and family members who were part of my “team”. That kept them informed and their responses were tangible support to Chuck while he waited. When I was out of the recovery room, Chuck continued the updates and the responses cheered us both immensely.

: : I remembered to be me. I made sure to engage positively and with good humor with every person I came in contact with. I wanted to be sure that I would not be just another number. I wanted to connect with the people responsible for my care. Coping with life’s challenges through laughter is one of my favorite strategies. Kidding around with my surgical nurse on the way to the operating room; joking with my nurses over profoundly embarrassing personal moments - that guaranteed I was not a number! I was Lee.

: : I walked. Before surgery back in 1987, my sister Gail advised me to get up and walk as soon as I was able. It was good advice then and now has become the gold standard for post-op recovery advice. This time I would emerge from my room, wrapped in my robe, one hand on my IV pole, the other on my incision and slowly but surely travel up and down the hallway. I did so at any hour of the day or night, always encouraged by the nurses and Chuck.

I was lucky.
I remain filled with gratitude for extremely good health care, fine health insurance, excellent nurses, generous friends and family and my understanding husband.


GAIL said...

You are sooooo lucky to have me as a sister!


Miss Rachel said...

Surgery can be a pretty scary thing, but it sounds as if you did a great job of preparing for it as much as you could. Happy recovery to you!

Pink Granite said...

Hi Gail -
Yes I am sooooooo very lucky to have you as my sister!
Thank you!

Hi Miss R -
It can be scary. But unlike previous surgeries I felt very calm and in control of all that I could.
Thanks for the good wishes!

Nana Fi said...

I am so glad your operation was a success and that you are back home safe and sound. Veronica told us you were having the op as I hardly had anytime to go on the computer as I was playing all day long with my darling little Lily. It is lovely to catch up with all your news. Stay well. Love Fiona xxx

Pink Granite said...

Hi Fiona -
Thank you for the good wishes!
I know you had a wonderful visit with your family - as did they with all of you!

Wendy said...

Fantastic , positive healing plan lee. I think in my first email to chuck and yourself I said that you wre doing well because of your positivity. It's everything and you have it in spades along with your wonderful husband and loving family how could you go wrong I love your photo idea my photos are so important to me and they lift my spirits so perfect for healing. So happy you are doing so well xxx

Pink Granite said...

Hi Wendy -
I did try to stay positive. Having the ever optimistic Chuck by my side was my not so secret weapon for staying that way!

The photos were wonderfully cheering, soothing and distracting. You, K and L on a park bench plus your Mum and Dad in front of the Royal Albert Hall were part of the montage - thank you!