I was coming out of the anesthesia and heard a woman’s voice talking to me, but I could not make out her face and I was still a bit confused and groggy. Then I heard her say, “Tawny, you are out of surgery. Unfortunately, they had to remove your pump. The doctor will be here to talk to you about it soon.”
Possible scenarios of what this meant went flashing forward in my head, then flashing backward of what life was like for me before the pump. I would like to say that coming out of anesthesia and not being able to see (my glasses were in pre-op) that my reaction to this news was calm or even appropriate.
I really am not sure what my reaction looked like, but there were tears and demands to get my friend Marilyn there before the doctor came to talk to me about it. She and I had practiced questions to ask last September when I had the first revision surgery and she would be able to ask those. I clearly was unable to do much other than fearfully cry.
Marilyn came, asked all of the right questions, and they discussed a plan to put in another pump the following week. Since the catheter was no longer attached, the pump had to be removed. I was only able to contribute what new prescriptions I was going to need to the conversation, and Marilyn filled me in more later in the day.
Within the first 24 hours after surgery, I had some sort of (perhaps drug-induced) realization about the situation. Here was my worst fear surgery scenario and for a while, I was in shock (or just fear) about it. I was not sure what to do with the fear, but could also almost see the opportunity.
I am not really a fan of letting fear dictate neither my reactions, nor my decisions and try really hard to fight it off when it arises. Perhaps all of this struggling with fear in my past was a result of viewing it from a competitive perspective. I was fighting fear—it won, or I won. Or is there room here for a different perspective on fear?
During my first attempt to sleep, I had a dream. In this dream, I took fear by the hand as if it was a shadowy human-shaped being. We sat down and I asked it questions, as I would ask any client or person in attempts to better understand it.
The interesting conclusion to this dream was that fear and I became cooperative partners in my week ahead. I was able to shift from all fear-based to a knowing that this was quite the opportunity to see what happened next without the pump. This was an opportunity to have a new frame of reference of what life would be like without the pump. Without this frame of reference, I have been living in fear.
My perspective the day after the surgery was one of a calm resolve and one that involved looking forward to what happened next. I was not afraid. I was not anxious. The fear was replaced by cautiousness. I needed to be aware if my legs were not stable. I needed to be aware of what environment was going to be best for what came next.
I made those decisions, as they needed to be made, without being overly emotional or fearful. I was observing and I was intrigued, not only by this shift of perspective, but by also about what was next.
I had never considered making my fear my ally and working with it, rather than against it. I had learned this about my body and my symptoms years ago, however. When I fought them and was angry with my body, it was worse and I was more tired. When I worked with it and within them, life certainly was able to flow more smoothly.
Apparently, this lesson generalizes to fear, or at least it did for me.