Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Asking for Help

I am writing this entry to ask for help, something I am still learning to do in my life. I will get to what I need shortly, but first I'd like to catch up.

January was a reasonably slow month, mostly spent fighting my own doctor's office and workers comp for physical therapy, with a few assorted appointments thrown in for "excitement." February has taken off like a rocket and I am now lock stepped into a race with time as I count down to surgery on February 28. I have had to fight with most of the doctors' offices to squeeze me in, because I need their OK's for the surgery. This process is always necessary and always exhausting.

Then I have to force myself to actually get to each place at the appointed time. Between now and then I have appointments with my pain treatment specialist, my cardiologist, my surgeon, a brand new personal care physician, my therapist, three appointments with my physical therapist, and three with my personal trainer. I'm exhausted just contemplating all this! Each doctor's appointment is stressful, especially meeting my new PCP and saying, "Hi, you don't know me, but please clear me for surgery!"

Then, of course, there is the surgery itself. I have chosen-and fought the system-to have an abdominoplasty. This is essentially a very extensive tummy tuck. Since I lost the 220 pounds, I have been left with literally pounds and pounds of hanging skin and fat, which cannot be exercised or dieted away. Every time I get out of the shower and see myself in the mirror I smile wryly and think of the Elder Statesman in the Babar series-I am wrinkled from my breasts to below my knees!

Of course I know I am lucky to be here, healthy enough to look in the mirror at all, and the point of the gastric bypass was health, not beauty. Butone does end up with a new kind of deformed body and new medical problems-rashes and infections where the skin hangs down. Hence the need for an abdominoplasty.

(Skip the following if you are not interested in specifics) The surgeon at Yale/New Have Hospital will make a roughly X shaped cut from below my breasts to above my pubic mound, cut and tighten my stomach muscles, slice off hunks of skin and fat, then stretch the remaining flesh back together and staple it into a long scar around my waist. I'll end up with drains, pain and a couple of months of healing and exercises on my part to rehab.

Now you would think after all the surgery I've had-one biggy a year for the last four years, eleven since 1994-I would not get nervous anymore. Not true, of course. I seem to get more scared each time. I'm not worried about the general anesthesia (if I die, then my time was up, and I'll go on to somewhere or nowhere; I have no control over that) or even of the surgery itself. What I am scared about is the pain afterwards. I have found that any surgery cranks up my normal level of chronic pain, and it can be months before it settles back down to a dull roar. This fear inevitably gets in the way of facing surgery calmly and resolutely.

So this time I am using Peggy Huddleston's "Prepare for Surgery and Heal Better " program. This consists of an hour's one--on-one workshop containing guided imagery for deep relaxation and three end results that you choose to enable you to move back to full health easier and faster after the surgery. It works on the principle that a truly relaxed patient is a better patient, and she has tons of medical research to back her up on this. I have had the training given by Peggy, and am authorized to give the workshop myself, which can even be given over the phone. (If anyone is facing surgery, all you need is to buy the book and CD, and I can give you the workshop free, over the phone, as it is one way I am volunteering these days.The book and CD cost about $30.00)

A friend led me through the workshop, and I have been listening to the relaxation CD regularly, in preparation, and this is where I need all the help I can get. I need at least 20 people to wrap me in sky blue blanket of love in the half hour before surgery. You can do this with prayer or meditation or picturing me or sending it out across the universe, whatever feels right to you. And then in the first few days after the surgery, you can also hold me up for easy healing whenever you think of me. If you are involved in a prayer group or meditation circle or spiritual meeting, please spread the word. I welcome all denominations, all faiths, anyway one connects with the Light.

I do not yet know what time my surgery will be yet, and probably won't until the day before. I'll make an entry as soon as I know so you'll know when to send the love to me. (I know this is a hardship for those who live on the West Coast or out of my time zone, but as long as I am asking for help, I might as well do it big time!) Again the surgery is Thursday, Feb. 28.

Phew! I did it. Asking for help is never as difficult as I think it will be, and I am getting better and better about it.

Blessings, Margo

1 comment:

Becky said...

Oh hun, I'll be happy to send all the healing vibes I can muster on the 28th. And I know exactly what you mean about surgery. I don't mind being in the hospital (but not particularly fond of IVs), getting knockedout...the nausea after isn't fun but I think they can do something about that next's the pain. They sliced me open hip to hip last time and stapled me back together. But I have a big floppy belly that must weigh 100+ lbs on it's own and it moved every time I even shrug my shoulders. Flopping about with a 13 inch incision held together with too many staples to count? Ow ow ow. I spent days frozen with fear, flat on my back, afraid to move even the slightest amount. And they wanted me to get up and walk. My hands are shaking just thinking about it. And I need more surgery. I've been putting it off for years now. I want to lose some weight to try and minimize the flopping...but I don't think it will work. I lose everywhere else BUT my belly when I diet. *sigh* If I go for the gastric bypass, at least I know the incisions won't be on the floppy part. That's something. Maybe I should do that first. Anywho...back to you. This is going to be like an extreme makeover moment. Imagine how many pounds of flesh will be gone when you wake up! That is a pretty thrilling prospect! But I am horrified for you too. Tell them not to make things TOO tight. My friend couldn't stand up straight for 3 months after her tummy tuck - her skin was pulled soooo tight. That's something I plan to tell the docs if I ever get to the point of having your surgery. I hope I do, one day.