Updated: Jan 3
When a major life event comes up, having a plan of attack makes a world of difference. I recently had to go in for a planned surgery and wanted to make sure my affairs were in
order. Even though the procedure only required my hospital stay to be 4 to 5 days, I wanted to plan for the worst and hope for the best. For most people they would think…”pppffff, this is no big deal; been there, done that.” BUT for me, this planned procedure triggered my anxiety and need for a plan due to a surgical trauma I survived almost 3 years ago.
My previous trauma was a routine procedure that a ton of women go in for every day, a routine partial hysterectomy. It should have been an in and out procedure with no more than a few hours stay in recovery just to make sure all was good, then I would go home. But, in my case, this was not what happened. A medical mishap caused my few hours stay/routine procedure to lead to full septic shock, 5 days in a medical induced coma, 4 more surgeries, 30 days in the hospital and so much more. So intertwined into all of that was A LOT OF TRAUMA. And now, intertwined into my every day life is a lot of PTSD!
Soooooo this previous trauma and the ongoing PTSD that I suffer from causes me to look at a “routine” procedure differently! (As I am sure you can understand why!)
Prepare, Plan and Protect… I like to call it the 3 P’s! These 3 P’s are imperative prior to any procedure!
3 P’s Prior to a Procedure
Preparing starts with the mental game. You need to mentally prepare for what is going to happen before, during and after the procedure. What you are going to go through physically and mentally. And how you will come out the other side. How will you feel while recovering IN the hospital and what does recovery look like at home?
This mental game is real! During my initial trauma almost 3 years ago, I thought I was going to die. Literally die! The pain was excruciating daily for 30 days as the doctors had cut me open from breastbone to pubic bone, so I was dealing with extreme pain and wound vac bandage changings what seemed to be freaking daily! This was like ripping off your skin x 1,000,000,000 exposing a gaping wound the entire length of your stomach. So yah, this mental game was ROUGH! So going in for this next planned procedure I was in super Prepare, Plan and Protect mode! Then while in the hospital after the procedure in recovery I had to deal with the mental game to get through the pain of this procedure.
At times our mind plans tricks on us to protect itself. Our mind will do anything it needs to be safe.
As I am mentally preparing for the procedure, I immediately move into action… Planning!
Planning is the biggest of these 3 P’s. In this step you will plan ahead for any unforeseen things… bills, property taxes, housekeepers, dog sitters, house sitter, food, recovery, and, and, and … all the way down to who will water your plants! What does your list of to do’s look like?
Start with a list. Write everything down:
What needs to be done BEFORE the procedure?
What needs to happen WHILE you are in for the procedure? (In the hospital)
What needs to happen AFTER the procedure? (At home for recovery)
MAP: From there move into mapping out the week/time that you will be gone. I like to put together a list for the refrigerator of what happens around the house for that time that I will be gone. This way anyone coming by to house sit, dog sit, check on things, water the plants, etc can see what needs to happen on those days. Example: Monday: Trash day, Tuesday: Gardener, Wednesday: House keeper….. Then leave money out for any of those items or expenses (if needed).
MEAL PLAN: Plan out meals, snacks, treats – etc thing you will need for recovery when you get home. Jello, pudding, yogurt, lunch meat, easy grab and eat foods? Soups, crackers? Precooked meals either in the fridge or put in the freezer for easy reheating later.
RECOVERY PLAN: Any needed meds – stool softeners, laxatives, prescription drugs, etc. Including how you will bath once home… do you need a no slip mat for the shower? A shower stool/seat? A different shower head- a new shower wand? Do you need to rent a lift chair or purchase one? (Definitely look at purchasing instead of renting if needed. Renting can be expensive, and they don’t cost much to purchase from Walmart or Amazon.) Grab bars, toilet riser…what do you need?
CHORE PLAN: Think about things that might need to get completed around your home… what will need to be done over the next “x” many days or weeks for your recovery? Put a plan in place to get those items taken care of prior to your procedure. You want to go in for the procedure with your plate clean. Everything taken care of and handled so that all you have to do is heal!
PACK: Think about what you will need the day of the procedure and what you might need while you are in the hospital in recovery.
For me, I wanted:
Noise canceling headphones because no one can get any actual sleep in the hospital. It’s ridiculous how much noise is CONSTANT in the hospital 24/7/365!
A soft blanket because those blankets in there are ummm well, not super soft.
Sleep Eye covers – so I can try to nap at any moment that I could possibly get 15 mins to 2 hours of sleep in.
Pictures! Print picture of you and your family, friends, doing what you love to do. AND TAKE THEM WITH YOU! If needed, prior to the procedure pull them out and look at them. This will help your heart and mind will go to a happy place. And then in your hospital room, have someone put them up on the wall so you can see them at all times! I actually packed painters’ tape so that I could post them myself if needed. These pictures give us hope and a calming familiar feeling that these people are with us and waiting for us to recover and get the heck out of the hospital.
What will you wear home? Plan comfy clothes and slip on shoes.
Plan a date night or even a trip prior to going in; have something – an event, a hike, a
party, SOMETHING to look forward to. Something you love. This will help drive you to get better since you have a commitment or a fun trip in the future that shines for you.
I remember in my initial trauma, while in the hospital for all those days, I thought I would never get out. I felt like death every day. And one of my girlfriends reminded my of a trip we had previously planned for all of us girls to go on together. It was still a year out but that trip helped give me hope. Hope for a future and that my life would NOT always be this hospital room.
This simple task will help give you hope, light, a beacon to look forward to!
Protect your heart!
Protect your soul!
Any procedure can take a toll on your spirit. Make it a point to surround yourself with those that you love. Wrap them around you like a blanket! These people will be your savors. Your loved ones will want to help you! And you need to be OK with taking the help! So take it!!! AND don’t be afraid to ask for help! These people closest to you will want to help you in your time of need.
Protect your body: Listen to your body. Your body will need to recover. So it will need extra sleep, take naps. It will need fuel, so feed it. Be compassionate towards your body. It’s the only one you have so take care of it.
Protect your Mind: Your mental state is one of the most important while in recovery. It actually might be the MOST important! Yes, things are going to get hard, BUT they will get better. You will have broken sleep; the nurses might make you walk when you feel that you can’t; they will be in to take vitals all the dang time. All this can be mentally challenging when you feel so sore, broken, hurt, or bruised. Sometimes things get so dark that you cannot see the light…but know in your heart that the sun will come out again.
YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS!