Post-op appointment day
Today is that day of the week
on which I hope I get to speak.
At what pitch will my voice peak?
Will I be allowed to talk a blue streak?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
As the days ticked down to the hours, I am filled with questions.
Will Dr. Parker begin by scoping my throat, to see how my stitches look?
If so, what will he find? Have my stitches held well?
If they have not, will he ask probing questions, accusing queries? “Did you follow my instructions, Gina? Have you been talking? Did you stay away from acidic foods? Did you sleep in a sitting position?”
It is my understanding that he will have me talk, but how much?
And then how much will I be allowed to talk over the coming days? I know that am far from healed; it is at least a six week process. As a friend suggested, if I am allowed to talk a little, that might be harder than not talking at all.
At what pitch will I register? Pre-surgery, I came in at a typically-male 115 vibrations per second. The speech therapist said that at 160 my voice should be taken as female. The surgeon suggested 180-200 would be a good level for me. So, what will he have achieved for me through surgery?
If my pitch is in the female range, will it feel right on me?
And what if it hasn’t changed? What if the surgery didn’t work? Whether it were that the stitches pulled apart, or the surgery simply did not affect the desired change, what if my pitch continues to register in the low 100s?
Have I become a worry wart?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I offer the following section because the vast majority of people admit to being worriers. Yet, no one need be one. Being a worrier is not who you are as, say, being left handed or an American. And I want to help people to learn how to stop being worriers.
When I was a minister, worry came up so often that I asked people about it. Were they truly worrying, or did they really mean that they were concerned about something? In some cases, theirs was a case of concern. In most, it was worry.
Along the way, I came up with my definition for worry. Worry is concern that has gotten out of hand.
I am a former worrier. It ceased in my thirties. It wasn’t a conscience decision; I can’t take credit for it. I believe that important experiences and conquering huge fears is what did it, some of which were:
- performing on stage;
- becoming a manager and traveling for my job;
- living through my son’s death;
- growing in my trust in Jesus Christ;
- especially, growing in my knowledge of who my Lord is and who I am in Him.
When I was young, all of my worries revolved around the same thing. Fear of the unknown. I was scared stiff of new things and I worried about things out of my control. After I lived through and conquered the hardest things for me, I knew that I never had to worry about them. That I could do it. I could succeed.
That meant that if something new and extremely challenging came to me—two great examples are officiating funerals for young people tragically killed and going out into the world as a female when I hardly look like one—I didn’t worry about it. I didn’t have to. Experience taught me that.
Did that make these huge challenges easier? While it did not alter them, it did make them easier in the sense that I was able to think them through with a clear head, allowing me to be properly prepared from them.
One of my favorite quotes is, “There are a lot of things to think about, but there is nothing to worry about.” Not only does worry do no good, it is destructive. Physically, it becomes a roadblock to rational thinking. Spiritually, it chips away at one’s faith. Emotionally, it eats at contentment. Relationally, it is a connection killer.
What I am is a thinker. And a pray-er. And a preparer. If something can be planned or mapped or figured out beforehand, I will work it out. You know, plan your work and work your plan—another favorite quote.
And another: Be prepared.
Yeah, I was a cub scout in my youth. I was the one at the pond faking that the frogs were too elusive to catch.
Nothing causes us to worry more than being a patient. I have known a number of people who did not see a doctor for years, who only finally would do so when they became so sick they could not go on. Fear is the foundation. Upon the fear foundation, worry builds the walls which imprisons them.
Being a pastor was a great training ground for being a patient. I sat with far too many folks who had no questions for their doctors. Who let fear take over, instead of taking over so there would be no need to fear. “What if it’s something bad?” Who never prepared. “I didn’t know what to ask.” Who didn’t write anything down. “I forgot to ask.”
I learned to ask questions for them. Pastors get a wide and varied experience with ailments, diseases, surgeries, and treatments. I love cultivating information and retrieving it when it can be useful. So, if a doctor or nurse or therapist came to see one of my folks when I was visiting, and if I sensed there were things not being covered, that my member was not able to conjure questions, I was not shy to do so. I was confident when they were hoping I’d jump in and ask things that would never occur to them, because we discussed it before the professional entered their room.
When it comes to our health, pussyfooting around is no good for anyone. We have a lot of time and effort and money invested in our health.
Julie and I will have a lot of money invested in my surgeries. I need to get all the bang I can for our bucks.
So, if I am not worried, is there a different question to ask? Am I anxious?
I am more edgy than anxious. Pensive. The way most folks feel right before a big life event.
I know that it is not anxiety, because I have been anxious before. In 2007, at age fifty, after receiving two heart stents, I suffered my first anxiety attack. It was so bad that I thought it was the same chest pain which had landed me in the hospital two days earlier. I was readmitted. My heart was fine, but I was not.
I was not consciously worried, but my body did not allow me to relax. That’s a common form of anxiety. It is similar to being depressed. Depression is not feeling sorry for yourself, but is a real, physical problem in which the sufferer cannot consciously or logically break out of it, just as were the two brief episodes I suffered during these twelve days of silence.
Anxiety works the same way. You don’t go and get it; it comes and gets you.
In 2007, I suffered one bad anxiety attack. For a year after receiving the stents, I experienced a handful of smaller ones. My doctor prescribed Xanax. I asked him why the anxiety came on when I had never had an attack in my entire life. He said, “You can get along with a broken arm, but if your heart doesn’t work you die.”
I loved the logic of it.
Anxiety and depression are conditions which happen to us, not by us. Worry is a condition which happens by us, not to us. Understanding the difference is key. Taking appropriate action is vital.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I am prepared for this afternoon. I have planned the visit and visited my plan. On my half-a-page of items are three questions.
- When may I resume running?
- When may I resume acidic foods?
- When may I resume lying flat?
Julie will take time off work to be with me, which I always appreciate so much. Besides, I might need her to verbalize my list of questions and concerns.
More than edgy, I am excited. Julie and I are excited. This day was not only twelve days in the making, but many years.
Many years of starts and stops, of planning and mapping and preparing, of “this can never be” to “this needs to be.”
We have arrived.