Freaking Out.

Granted, I am incredibly tough and resilient. Yes, I have completed extensive post-graduate studies in Mythic Hero’s Journeying. I will also accept the overwhelming evidence that the behavior I think of as “just being me” is judged by others to be inspirational, strong and brave.

But right now, as my automatic emotional shield of detachment gradually wears away, I am beginning to freak out.

One of the early signs of this? My emotional reaction to all the people happy about the news that our surgery date had been moved earlier. “Easy for them to say,” I thought. “They aren’t the ones who will be getting cut open.”

The fact that I’ve had surgery like this before has both good and bad aspects.  One bad aspect is that I know all too well what I have ahead of me. As time goes by, I’m remembering more details and things I don’t usually think about, and it’s pretty upsetting.

I’m remembering being in the ICU. While in recent years my thoughts of that experience have only gone as far as recalling our friend Chris’ description of the cartoon hearts floating on the ceiling, now I’m remembering the feeling of relief I had that I woke up after the surgery at all. (I was seriously worried going in that my impaired heart function wouldn’t get me through a 12-hour surgery.) I recall what a big deal it was that I could manage to, with help, transfer out of bed and sit up in a chair for a little while.

I’m remembering why it is that I’m able to have an opinion on the relative qualities of the powerful opiates oxycodone versus hydrocodone, and also times when I was still in incredible pain despite having plenty of them on board. (Thank god I already have my PEG installed, and we’ve learned a lot about what to put into it.)

I guess I’m OK with the fact that I’ll be trached again, and unable to talk for a few days. The last time left me with some lingering minor claustrophobia and hypervigilance, but I don’t think that will get worse. We may substitute my iPad for the purple pen and file cards we used for me to scrawl messages last time, but I know I’ll still be able to communicate without speaking.

I am not worried about having to spend too many months nourishing myself only via the PEG tube, because, in what I readily admit is a self-serving decision, not a completely objective assessment, I believe this surgery will not disrupt my ability to swallow as badly as the last one did. It will probably be only a month or two before the swelling goes down and everything has healed.

I really don’t know how long it will take to recover. It’s unpredictable.

This is BIG. And very hard, and scary. And I’m feeling it.


12 thoughts on “Freaking Out.

  1. I would be worried about your sanity if you weren’t freaking out! It is only reasonable. It is your ability to face your fear with the grace and dignity that you do that makes you the person that is loved and admired by so many. Basically, you are a rock star. Hugs!

  2. glad you are freaking out…I would worry about you otherwise. And I sure do not think less of this then any of the other challenges you have faced – I just know that you are indeed the strongest person I know, the most resilient and battle tested. I still think it sucks you have to go through it…but I know that if ANYONE will succeed, it is YOU!

    And I am thankful you have the best partner by your side…to hold your hand, kiss your forehead and be there through it all. Freak all you want…we got your back!

  3. And now we shall shake our collective booty and sing, Awwwww, freak out! Le freak c’est chic! Because if ever there were a time for disco, I think this is it.

  4. “If we take the generally accepted definition of bravery as a quality which knows no fear, I have never seen a brave man. All men are frightened. The more intelligent they are, the more they are frightened.” — George Patton

    OK, you’re probably not a Patton fan, but still…. It is entirely rational to be scared. I know I would be freaking out too. More so. And I would be wondering at others who, unlike me, have the option to not have to be brave.

    Being open about it, as you are, is the real courage.

  5. And while you’re at it, kick something to vent some of the rage. It is not fair. It is not fair. It is not fair. I remember how hard on you it has bee…is…and it frightens me and makes me angry. Imagine… you give all of us hope !!!

  6. How about getting in touch with some benzodiazepines. Can there be any reason you *need* to experience your freak full on? Muffle the terror, I say. You’ll still be you. You’ll still be “brave.” You just won’t be freaking out quite so much. xoxoxoxo

  7. I am glad that you can express your fear and anger (thanks Norman). I am also delighted by rumors of a trip to Hawaii before the surgery. I am sorry that I won’t be part of the posse this time.

  8. I’d be worried if you did not freak Paul. So freak on, human being, always here and thinking of you.

  9. Please consider yourself hugged…and I’m hoping that a week or so in Hawaii will be even better than a pile of pain killers. As everyone above has said, if you weren’t worried, we’d be even more worried about you. You’re in our prayers.

  10. It must be really hard not to drive yourself nuts with the worries and knowing what’s coming probably makes it worse, almost. Except it’s going to be different this time. Sending you healing thoughts. When I found myself freaking out over Clayton I’d start asking, what’s happening now? It pulled me out of awfulizing thoughts of the future into the present which, though often horrible, wasn’t as bad as I’m fears.


  11. An 11/24 read-thru shows you have also built a network of exceptional, caring humans who know how to articulate love and support and will be sending the best vibes throughout the procedure.

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