*puts kettle on*
No really, it’s OK. There is nothing wrong with being afraid. Let’s face it, if you were about to have surgery and were not afraid at all, if you were super-casual about it, that would be quite weird!
It’s natural to be afraid about surgery; something major is going to happen, it’s something you have no control over, and it’s a big unknown. So let’s unpack those things:
Whether your surgery is vaginal, with no external incisions, or whether it’s a vertical incision, a hysterectomy is major surgery, there’s no getting around that. So it brings lots of fears with it; the surgery itself, the removal of an organ, the unknown.
The way I got around this fear – basically the fear of major surgery – was thinking about what would happen if I chose not to have surgery. Yes, in an ideal world I wouldn’t have needed a hysterectomy, but that wasn’t the world I was living in. These were the cards I’d been dealt so I needed to make the best of them. But if I chose not to have surgery……? For me that meant the fear of my fibroids growing. Getting worse. Bleeding all the time. Being anemic. Not being able to live my life. Waking in pain every other night with no end in sight. In the end I realised I was more afraid of that than I was of the surgery. By choosing surgery I was choosing to end those fears, to get my life back.
You don’t have control.
I confess, I’m a control freak. I over-think all the time, I research *all* the options, I’d rather do something myself than hand it over to someone else. So being put to sleep and putting my body in the hands of people I didn’t know freaked me out somewhat! But while I am a control freak, I’m also a very logical person, and eventually my logical mind took over. I think the conversation went something like this:
Control freak brain (CFB): I won’t be in control! Who knows what might happen! I won’t be aware of what’s going on!
Logical brain (LB): Do you want to be in control?
CFB: of course I do, I always want to be in control!
LB: But… do you want to be in control of your surgery?
LB: Because you don’t know anything about surgery do you? You couldn’t make decisions during surgery…. you’re not an expert in any way, you don’t know what they need to be doing.
CFB: I suppose….
LB: So isn’t this something you want to trust to the experts? You don’t want an unexperienced person (like you) to be making decisions, you want someone who’s an expert! You know they do this all the time; it’s their job! When you take a flight, do you think you need to fly the plane?
CFB: well… no….
LB: so there you go. This is a big deal, so it’s a job for the experts. Let them do your job, and you focus on what *your* job is – to recover!
And that’s exactly the point. You don’t have control over the surgery because you *shouldn’t*, the experts should. What you do have control over is your recovery – so focus on doing that as well as possible and all will be well 🙂
Lastly… the unknown.
The unknown can be scary, or it can be thrilling. No, I”m not about to suggest you view your hysterectomy as thrilling! But when it’s scary, there is one thing that can help, and that’s knowledge. Once you have some knowledge, it’s no longer the unknown! It becomes the known. One of my favourite sayings is ‘knowledge dispels fear’. If you’re feeling afraid of the unknown, seek out knowledge (just make sure your sources are knowledgeable – more on this in this article). Ask questions of your doctor and your surgeon. If you want, did you know you can watch videos of hysterectomies on youtube? (That wasn’t something I wanted to see but I wanted to let you know it was an option). Join some friendly Facebook groups, check out the website hystersisters.com, read reputable websites (for links check the resources page). And if you’re still unsure…. ask more questions! Until the unknown becomes known enough for you to lose some of that fear.