Nate finds the terms ‘pre-op’ and ‘post-op’ highly amusing because of their connotations with sex change operations.
I have noticed increased levels of anxiety AND calmness in myself as the operation draws nearer. It is only the day after tomorrow. I have considered the anxiety and found it fits into four categories:
1. General anxiety – this is the concern that actually a general anesthetic can at times be dangerous. And I haven’t given up smoking yet, what with things being a bit stressful lately. And I did have a little bit of a party Christmas. But… I also felt like this before the last op I had, and I was extremely healthy then. I feel like it when I go on a plane too, or any other time I put my life in the hands of someone I don’t know. So that’s where that anxiety is coming from. I know this because I have an overwhelming urge to make sure my life is in order and someone knows what I want done with my kids. This is how I feel when I fly, to the point that I will speak to my mum the night before and say ‘And you know what I want done with the kids’ and she will say ‘Yes, yes, shut up, it’s going to be fine’. I don’t even have to explain it to her, but it is reassuring to say it. A bit like rubbing a rabbit’s foot.
2. Spreading anxiety – what if I wake up and they say it’s spread? How far will it have spread? Am I currently riddled with cancer and the lump in the breast is merely a secondary lump? Will I be like the dog we had when I was a kid who was fine and dandy til they found a lump on her side, opened her up and rang my mum and said ‘She’s so riddled with cancer it’s not worth stitching her up. We have no idea how she was still alive and running around’. I have considered this, in darker moments, and decided that this is more than likely how everyone feels when diagnosed with cancer. It must be a common human reaction to think the worst, perhaps in a way it’s mental preparation. Perhaps it’s also assimilating what is happening. Being told that yes, your lump is a cancer is a wake up call. It is bound to make you assess your own mortality, so the good news is, I am functioning normally mentally.
3. Illness anxiety – I am already ill apparently (I do feel quite tired and I’ve lost weight, but I work 60-70 hours a week and have 3 kids, 2 cats, a snake, a gecko and a Nathan to deal with; who wouldn’t be tired?) but that does not mean I want to contract any of the viral concoctions clustering about in the corners and the crevices of your average NHS hospital. Norovirus is at a peak this year, flu is just kicking off again, and then there’s MRSA. I could go in with cancer and come out all clear of that but contaminated with some other hideous illness. I’m packing hand gel.
4. Lethargy anxiety – the last three generals I’ve had have made me feel like utter crap for at least 2 weeks afterwards, with the first 5 says being especially rough. (Well, not the first 24 hours, when I wake up high as a kite, starving hungry and start demanding to be discharged before I’ve even stood up for a piss.) The next day it wears off and I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. Even standing up to get the remote control is too much. Still, if they give me the all clear, this will be but a minor set back in the long recovery, and actually, it will be quite nice to have some time lying on my arse reading books and while Nate does things for me.
With all that, I am having trouble sleeping. Valium.