Do you know anyone who has an upcoming surgery? Perhaps my husband’s story will help…
Three days ago I was sitting in the hospital waiting room while my husband, Lee was having the ACL and meniscus in his knee repaired.
As you may know from my book or blog, I believe illness and injury, though an unwelcome guest, can be opportunities for personal growth. It’s been amazing to follow Lee on his journey, as he’s gone from seeming incredibly vulnerable, to information gathering and eventually empowered and certain. As much as I wanted to insert myself in his process, I had to repeatedly remind myself that this is his journey and for him to learn all his lessons, I could support him, but not do the work for him. (If you have a child undergoing surgery, as a parent, you can do the following recommended exercises on your child’s behalf, as we did for our daughter.)
That being said, when we first learned he needed surgery, I left Peggy Huddleston’s book, Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster on his bedside table. It was a few nights later when I found him already in bed half-way through Chapter One. “You’re so subtle,” was all he said. I hid my smile behind my hand.
And my smile continued to grow as I watched and witnessed Lee accept and embrace the suggestions in Huddleston’s book as his surgery date approached.
He reached out to the people he works with, the guys he mountain bikes with, and all his ski racing buddies to create the suggested “support group.” “Hey if you think of it,” he would say, “send some positive energy my way Monday morning at 7:30.” Later, on our drive to the hospital he confessed that wasn’t easy for him. “To put myself out there like that, to ask them to think of me, was really hard,” but after a moment he added, “But I’m so glad I did because it was very well received and they felt included in my process.”
The other big take-away from Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster was the healing statements. These are intentions written out by the patient and read by someone in the operating room as the patient goes under and comes out of anesthesia. Huddleston talks in her book about the research that has proven that even when a patient is anesthetized, he/she is still hearing what is said during surgery. She sites examples from hospitals in Boston, New York, Atlanta and London who’ve all shown that “patients who had positive statements spoken to them during general anesthesia recovered more quickly with less pain and complications than the patients in the control group, who were not given the statements.”
In the pre-op room, Lee mustered up his courage to hand the sheet of loose leaf paper on which he’d written his statements to the anesthesiologist and ask that they be read during surgery. I watched Lee relax into the bed when the anesthesiologist said, “Yeah, I’ve seen this several times now. Must be somethin’ going around.”
Prior to surgery, we learned that Lee had the choice to use one of his own tendons to replace his, or one from a donor. Based on his age (46) it was repeatedly recommended he use the donor option. It was about a week before surgery that it really hit home for Lee that his new tendon would be coming from someone whose life had been cut short. The last of his healing statements reflects that. With his permission, these are the statements he wrote:
- I look forward to this procedure and wish for it to go smoothly, efficiently and as simply as possible in a safe and clean environment.
- My immediate post-op recovery will be pain-free, and set the stage for a pain-free rehabilitation.
- All medications from surgery will transfer easily out of my body.
- My body’s response will be swift, thorough and strong.
- I express deep gratitude to the donor of this tissue and intend that this tissue will be welcomed and accepted as a part of my body.
I can happily report that three days post-surgery, Lee is doing wonderfully well. He’s off all pain meds, making good progress on his physical therapy and already making plans for next ski season!