I love this picture. Lee took it pre-op (first surgery lol) and I am so glad he did. This picture is my reminder of how I was staying in my space of health, hope and love. I was mindful of staying calm and balanced, and truthfully I had little room for anxiety!
I thought I would connect with you all and let you into my world of post-surgery healing. I feel blessed that throughout my cancer journey I have been actively learning about and practicing mindfulness. Thank goodness I have been practicing because I have really needed it. Let's first start with what is mindfulness? Mindfulness, as described by researcher Dr. Kristen Neff is a balanced approach to negative emotions, so that feelings are never suppressed nor exaggerated. The mindfulness I have learned has prepared me to always try to not get "stuck" in one emotion for any length of time. Now enter pain.
So I feel as though I prepared myself really well mentally for this surgery. I put a plan in place. For example, I asked my YTT group for a favour. I told them how pain changes my brain and that change makes me doubt myself and my worthiness and my actual abilities. I asked them to not let me quit Teacher Training. I know it is surprising that I would say this because I love this training so so much. However, I know pain, it is an asshole and it can change me if I let it. I also talked to my family and my best friend Jen who took me for my surprise second surgery, letting them know that I will have a few days of severe pain and that I may not be myself and I may not be able to make simple decisions.
So upon arriving home, I was instantly angry with myself that I did not tidy the house "well enough", I was upset at myself that I didn't realize I would not be able to reach a glass in the upper cupboard to pour a drink. I was upset about asking my family to do simple things for me, because I was feeling like a burden. Stupid me. I was starting to shame and judge myself and the anesthetic was not even fully out of my body yet! It was time for me to be a detective, which is kinda fun when the strong drugs are working, but when they wear off my inner detective becomes rather pissy. lol
I had to start analyzing my thought patterns. I immediately asked myself these questions:
1. why did I not clean the house more? Cleaning the house was a choice, it was a choice between mentally and physically preparing for surgery so that I could have the best outcome. I spent a lot of time doing restorative Yoga, meditating and energizing my body with great food. I also spent time with people I love. I had YTT on the Fri/Sat/Sun and ACTIVELY decided to rest and build my mental reserves on Monday to prepare for surgery Tuesday. BAM! Now, I can understand more clearly and I sigh and say oh well done ME! Yay! I did not really need a tidy house, what I needed most was a clam and centered me:) (self-compassion added here)
2. Why did I not prepare for being unable to reach a glass out of the upper cupboard? Well, I just didn't think of it. I had no idea that I would not be able to reach my arms above my head. As well, instead of getting upset why not grab a mug from the counter beside the coffee maker? Ummm, ya ok! (great sloothing ME! yay)
3. I was wishing I didn't need to ask my family for help. Why do I feel so guilty about this? This is a hard one. Well, I guess I feel like I have asked for so much help since Feb 2017. That is a long time and they are probably getting tired of helping me. I have been working really hard since September to ask less of them (regarding helping me). I often say that when someone in the family has cancer, the whole family has cancer. This is a really difficult path for me. Well, with my PI hat on I reminded myself that helping a family member through hard stuff IS what a family does. At least in our case this is true. So I said goodbye to guilt and made sure I said thank you each time they helped me! Accepting help is a roadblock for many people and I have found the more I practice acceptance the easier acceptance becomes.
So all in all I had a very rough first few days with pain and it affected my inner judge. Having the emergency surgery was scary, I am not gonna lie, it threw me. However I used tools that I had prepared, recognized when my mindset was affected and reminded myself that this hardship will pass soon. I am happy to report that I am out of the deep pain and am healing. It will still be a long road, but the worst is (hopefully) behind me. (yay me!)