Today is the 1st November. I’m having heart surgery at the back end of this month sometime. I will only have a couple of weeks notice of the actual date, but I need to be prepared within the next few weeks.
And I’m struggling.
There I said it.
I don’t like to admit it (does anyone?) but it is true.
And it sucks.
I expected that I would be in control of everything – organising my post op care, my finances, my work, my emotions. That I would be able to plan everything down to the finest detail, pray, give all my fear and stress to God, and focus on having lots of lovely time with people doing loads of fun things.
I imagined that by the month of the surgery I would have lost all the weight I wanted to, be as fit as I wanted to be, have everything in order. That I would have moved in a straight line towards my goals.
But I haven’t. Nowhere near.
The reality is, life doesn’t work like that. It’s messy.
My emotions are literally all over the place. I’m swinging between sadness, irritation, frustration, happiness, thankfulness, loneliness, fear, joy. I feel like I am on the verge of weeping or laughing or shouting all the time. Sometimes I don’t know what I feel. I’m just numb. Sometimes I want to be with people, other times I want to be on my own curled up.
I found out a couple of weeks ago at my cardiology appointment that the right side of my heart is further enlarged. The function is still the same, but it really does need the surgery to be sooner rather than later. We had a big discussion about whether to wait and have the less invasive robotic surgery, or go with the traditional open heart.
I had to make a decision and it was difficult. I opted for open heart. The gold standard, the method known by the entire medical team that will be looking after me. So they can tell me what to expect and when.
I was glad of making the decision, but I have been terrified by the thought of open heart surgery from the beginning. Being so vulnerable like that, completely out of control.
I am trying not to think about this, but its like a scary clown is in my mind poking at me to look into its face.
I just about get on top of it and then someone will innocently ask me if I’ve got a date for my surgery yet, or how I’m feeling, or any other question about it, and suddenly I’m there – in the mouth of the clown, anxious and caught. And I have to push it all away again just to function, and smile and try to be ‘normal’.
I know people mean well by asking, but those seemingly simple straightforward questions are loaded with emotion for me that I’m left dealing with long after the short conversation has finished. And I am still trying to think of responses that are truthful, yet avoid talking about things when I don’t want to and don’t offend or hurt the other person.
And it feels like there is so much to organise. Loads of practical things. I feel better when I get something done, crossed off my list. But I really don’t know how I will get everything finished that I’d like to – at home, work. There are a lot of people I would like to catch up with but in reality I am not going to be able to and trying to fit everything in is making me stressed.
It’s like I’m stuck on a ride I can’t get off – it is in motion, pushing forward towards the big day. That’s me somewhere in the middle with my head in my hands. I can’t even scream to make myself feel better. I don’t know whether I want to be at the back having fun with my arms in the air or controlling the ride from the front. All I do know is that I don’t like the place where I am right now.
The truth is this. I keep thinking what if this is the last few weeks of my life? How do I want them to be? These are difficult conversations to have with people. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and want to make sure that all the people I care about know how I feel about them. Should I write letters to everyone for them to read just in case I don’t survive? I tried this, but I couldn’t do it.
The chances are that I will survive and I will get through it all and be fine. So perhaps it is better not to write the letters?
It is very important to me that people know how much I love them though, so I will be telling people the best I can, in my own way.
Then of course there is the recovery from surgery to think about. The time in intensive care, the week in hospital ward. The time stuck at home needing help with pretty much everything. The physical pain. The loss of independence. I am doing my best to see it as a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with amazing people – and when I think of that I get excited and overwhelmed with the thought that I am loved. But there is this fear in me of being a burden, being too needy, losing myself, losing others.
All of this is going on but this is not some amazing blockbuster movie where suddenly the love of my life or my fairy Godmother appear to do everything for me.
No, the boring drudgery of life is still going on. I got a tax bill yesterday, I’ve loads of housework to do and I have to inject my cat with insulin. I have to go to work. I have to smile and get on with stuff. I have to go home to an empty house at times when all I want is someone to hug me and tell me everything is going to be OK.
The reality of waiting it hard. This surgery has been hanging over me for several years now and I just want it over and done with.
The worst part is that I am irritating myself! Even writing this has annoyed me. I shouldn’t be struggling, there are so many people worse off than me. I know I am really blessed. I know I have a strong faith, wonderful family and friends. I shouldn’t be feeling alone and scared.
But to get through this I need to be honest.
Thank you for reading.
Love Lou x