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Pre-Op, Prepping, Dealing With Stress

on March 10, 2017

If there was ever a time when I needed the Serenity Prayer and to re-study the ideas of acceptance and turning over my problems to a Higher Power, it’s now. This is the last full week before my total knee replacement. I have worked hard to have everything properly planned. I scrupulously followed the instructions and made a list of all the tests, exams and appointments I had to accomplish in the last couple of weeks.

I have complete other lists at work and at home. Work projects that need to be completed or at least to a certain point before I go out on leave for a few weeks are in good shape. My master bathroom remodel is almost done and the room could be mostly functional by the time I get back from the hospital.

I was positive that I had everything under control, even though it was stressful and a lot of work and effort to make it so. This week presented a series of challenges on all fronts that have severely impacted my ability to remain serene.

On the 28th I met with the surgery center to pre-register, get a blood test for match/type, have a chest x-ray, meet with the anesthesiology representative, and go to the rehabilitation orientation. A few days before they’d called me to tell me that my surgical team was now doing the procedures in a newer way that would not require general anesthesia and would provide for me to be released from the hospital the day after my operation instead of two days later.

That was surprising and a little alarming, but I rolled with it. I told the anesthesiologist assistant that I needed assurance that I would not be aware of, or feel, anything that was happening during the operation. To be blunt, I said, “Promise me that I won’t see, hear, feel or smell the saw or what it’s doing to my knee.”

Three days later I went to my primary care physician’s office to have blood taken for the full labs.  This past Monday, I went back to my doctor for the exam, an EKG, and so she could clear me for the surgery.  All was good! My cholesterol, blood glucose and Ac1 are all good. My blood pressure and EKG showed normal. The doctor signed off on my clearance. Check that off the list!

Then on Wednesday I get a call from the surgeon’s coordinator. The surgeon thought my blood work was abnormal and wanted me to see a hematologist. Say what? I had no time to get up to Miami to see anyone and didn’t understand why it was necessary and what they thought was abnormal.

Well, it turns out that something that is normal for me sent up a flag for him. I have Thalassemia trait with red blood cells that are smaller than normal. That’s often seen in people of Mediterranean heritage. I’ve known about it all of my life and it’s never been an issue. My blood tests show up as if I’m slightly anemic but as long as the tests show the same thing year after year, we know it’s stable.

My doctor noted about my stable Thalassemia trait on the lab reports but that page didn’t get sent to my surgeon. Hence, his desire for it to be investigated.

I have a standard response when I’m under a lot of stress. Something happens and I have a short period where I freak out and get upset, then I put it aside, dig in, and get it handled. So, after my initial freak out, I got on the phone to my doctor, got another copy of the note faxed, wrote a long email to the surgical coordinator explaining the situation and how important it was for there to be no delay in my surgery date. Yesterday, I got the response that the surgeon reviewed everything again and I was good to go.  WHEW!

Then today I get a call from my primary care physician’s office. Turns out that there was now another issue. My doctor missed the original request for another fairly important blood test that indicates the rate at which my blood clots when I’m bleeding. Sooo, I needed to leave work and run down to the hospital to get more blood drawn for the test so that the results could get to the surgeon.

Ok, got that done and back to work in 90 minutes to go back to tackling the projects on my list. I felt fairly confident that this was the last stumbling block. I knew I could stop worrying about that aspect of my life and concentrate on the list of tasks I need to accomplish this weekend to prepare myself and to prep my house for my post-surgical return when my brother and sister-in-law will be here for a few days.

Remember that I’m remodeling my master bathroom. So, I’ve been living with plastic sheeting between the bathroom/closet area and my bedroom. It’s okay – just a little hard to get to my clothes. Things are moving along for the most part and it’s beautiful. That said, it has not been without challenges this week, too. Lighting was supposed to arrive Tuesday. When it wasn’t here, I checked. The company had cancelled the order because they were no longer carrying those lights. Whoops. They forgot to email me! I found the same lights at another company and ordered them through Amazon. The order said they’d arrive yesterday but, again, no lights! The order confirmation changed the arrival day to this Monday. Argh. I arrived home today and found one of the lights had arrived. Why they packed them in two different boxes, I have no idea, but the other box will get here Monday.

On the other hand, the cabinets arrived a day early and are assembled. The cabinet guy just has to finish the vanity and put it in place. Yay. After that, I can take down the plastic sheeting to reaccess the closets. I will also be able to move stuff out of the guest bedroom and into the bathroom cabinets which will, in turn, allow me to straighten up the room in which my family will be sleeping. I have even arranged for a cleaning service to come on Monday and do a much-needed deep cleaning of the living room, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms and the other bathroom. So, we’ll return home from the hospital to a clean home.

I relaxed and had a nice dinner, secure in the knowledge that, again, despite the blood test glitches and missing lights, I had everything. under. control. My ship was on course with smooth sailing ahead to next Wednesday. I should have known better.

My sister-in-law called a couple of hours ago. She was scheduled to fly down the night before my surgery to be with me at the hospital and the next day. My brother flies down the day after. Well… it turns out that a huge snowstorm is scheduled to hit their area on Tuesday! She received notice from the airline about changing her flight. Unfortunately, she can’t switch to Monday and come in a night early, so she had to change to Wednesday morning.

This means that she won’t be with me at the hospital before my operation or while I’m there. I will be 100% honest that when I got off the phone with her, I had a complete stress overload reaction and burst into tears. The melt down lasted about 20 minutes and then I reeled it in and started thinking about what to do. I know that for my own peace of mind, I need someone to be at the hospital as my companion that morning. The surgical center was adamant about needing a support person present.

It is extremely difficult for me to call and ask for help when I perceive it to be a major favor. I overcame that resistance tonight and reached out to a friend who lives in Miami near the hospital. I explained the situation and she agreed without hesitation. I am blessed! She’ll meet me at the hospital in the morning and be there until I’m either in my room post-recovery room or my sister-in-law arrives, whichever comes first. This relieved my mind more than you know.

I’m not going to get overconfident, but I think at this point it’s safe to say that I’m not going to get hit with another stressful situation tonight.

When I wake up tomorrow, I will begin to methodically and calmly go down my list of tasks to accomplish this weekend and start checking them off on by one. I can do this, even if life stuff manages to throw additional challenges my way.



2 responses to “Pre-Op, Prepping, Dealing With Stress

  1. JulieR says:

    Mary, based on the experiences of a couple friends who have had it, I’m sure your surgery will be a great success, and you’ll be so glad you did it!

    Sending you positive energy…

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