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  • Cassandra Shoneck, CPT

Don't make worry an art form.

When you are someone who has a past history of anxiety and ill-managed stress, etc., something like an injury or surgery, etc. can sometimes trip you up, trigger you, and throw you for a loop.


So I'm just going to share some things here that kinda freaked me out through this whole experience so far, and why I had nothing to worry about, plus how I got through. Hopefully my sorta-kinda-words-of-wisdom might help someone else whose brain tends to paint highly imaginative mental masterpieces of "what ifs".



I'm going to preface this by saying, I know exactly how crippling anxiety can be. I struggled with it for many years. I know nothing's a quick fix and lots of things are more easily said than done. Most of you also know however, that for the most part, I successfully wrangled and tamed that beast, by taking better care of myself, i.e. cleaning up my eating, exercising regularly, and prioritizing my mental health. But I will never forget the intensity of struggling through an attack, or the lingering daily effects it can have on pretty much everything you do when that monkey is on your back. So, I get it. BUT! I also was sick of it, and worked hard to grow from that place. So. Moving on...


How do you not worry when you're worried? Main thing for me?


WORK THAT BRAIN MUSCLE, GIRL! Or guy! Guys can definitely do it too. No discrimination on getting your head right around here. :) And yes, I know the brain is not really a muscle - but this stuff WORKS when you treat your noggin just like any other muscle that needs strengthening. You train it! And you practice. And you do it again and again and it makes your brain stronger and flexier and more swole and the next time stuff gets easier and easier.



I use these:

Visualization.

Replacing negative thoughts with good.

Focusing on what you CAN control and TRULY letting go of the rest.

And being PRESENT.


These things work wonders. The biggest thing I found that works for me still, even in minor situations, is the visualization one. For example, for my surgery, I didn't dwell a moment on picturing them putting in my IVs or what was going to be happening when I was under. I just kept vividly and clearly visualizing the very moment I would wake up after surgery. All done. Successfully fixed up. All wrapped up, drugged up, surgery behind me, being hand-fed apple juice by my hubby. THAT was the thought I kept in my brain until that exact moment came. And by the time that moment did come, it was all over.


The whole list of things is important though. Through this whole thing, I've been hell-bent on having a super positive attitude - continuously replacing scary thoughts with solid, positive ones. Taking things day by day - even staying present moment by moment if need be. And remembering that I was in the hands of pros. I just had to chill out and go with the flow.


So that's how I've been kinda dealing overall. But for anyone who might be scheduled for a similar surgery or who's just curious about stuff, here are some more specific things I was worried about, and why I didn't need to be....

1) WORRY: That they would do the wrong leg. I know - pretty silly concern. Let's attribute it to too much weird TV. Whatever. Don't judge me.


NO WORRIES: As soon as I got there, the front desk asked me which leg - and they put the wrist band on the opposite arm. Then, once I got to my room, my nurse asked me which leg again, and they had me sign paperwork confirming same. AND she also gave me a marker to literally initial the leg that needed the surgery right then and there! Pretty fool proof.

2) WORRY: That all the IVs and stuff they have to hook you up to would hurt and/or freak me out and make me sick. (I really don't care for needles. Even thinking about it too much generally makes me ill, so I really tried to ignore this one, but still...)

NO WORRIES: They actually gave me a local for each of the locations they had to IV. The nurse numbed my hand right up for the main IV. And the anesthesiologist numbed my whole leg where they inserted the catheter for the nerve block/pain pump thing. So if I didn't look at them, it was easy enough to just ignore them. I really couldn't even feel either of them. :)

3) WORRY: That I would be really nauseous after waking up. I HATE feeling nauseous. I turn into a huge baby. (I know, like anyone actually enjoys the feeling...) But after my retinal detachment surgery, waking up from that one, I was sick sick sick for days. It was terrible. So...

NO WORRIES: I made sure I was honest and as detailed as possible when they were prepping me for surgery. When my nurse asked me about past surgeries and anesthesia experience, I told her about that sick feeling I had before, and she gave me one of those little patches behind my ear. Like the motion sickness ones I think? I was totally fine!

4) WORRY: Having to remove the nerve block/pain pump. This was a big one. First of all, we're dealing with more needle-like things. Ew. And it was IN my leg. Ew, ew! And as thankful as I was for it (I literally could not feel my leg at all from Friday to Sunday - it was like when your hand or arm is asleep but like, times ten), it really creeped me out. AND I had to take it out myself once it ran out.


NO WORRIES: Even before I took it out, I started making reasons in my head why it was going to be good. A) I'd have more sleeping position options. B) It was going to be easier to get up and go pee. C) If I'm ever in a zombie apocalypse and I have to do some medical stuff on myself, this experience was preparing me and making me a tougher human. You know, normal stuff.

When the bag finally ran out, and I took all the tape off, the catheter was actually way smaller than I imagined. It was super easy to see what direction it was going in so that was straightforward as well and it was really easy to pull out. And, I barely felt it. Win win win. Plus, after I was done, I had all those positives set up in my head to focus on already. And yes, it was way easier to pee.

5) WORRY: What everything was going to feel like after the nerve block wore off. This was another huge one. A big mental game one.

NO WORRIES: Again, I started on the offense as soon as I could by telling myself whatever happened, I was going to get through it. No other option. I was strong, and tough.....and had good meds. Plus the doctor told me that this surgery is actually not usually associated with much pain after. I CLUNG to those words. And made them super true in my head. I gave my brain no other option than to believe 100% that it was going to be fine and was not going to hurt more than I could handle. (Another prime example of why you never truly know how you impact someone with your words and actions. That doctor probably didn't think twice about saying that to me - just making a general statement. But, for me, I made it my mental mantra and it made a huge difference in how I approached things that Sunday post-block-removal.) I also "stayed ahead of the pain" and as anti-pill as I am, allowed myself take the maximum recommended dose for the first day until I got a mental handle on things. Everything was fine. And so far so good still! :)



Side note: If anyone has any questions about anything I talk about - please feel free to reach out. Some stuff I skim over and if you'd like to know more, if it might help you, I'd be glad to chat! Just shoot me a message!

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