Tuesday, June 20, 2006

so I don't have to dream alone

Twice in the last three days I've had anxiety dreams about my upcoming chest surgery. I don't know what this is about! Ask me while I'm awake how I'm feeling about August 9th, and I'll tell you straight up how excited I am about it. This surgery is the pinnacle of my summer- it's going to make me so much happier and more comfortable in my daily being. I can't tell you how many times a day I think wistfully of wearing only one layer of shirt, of sitting on my fire escape in just jeans, of looking in the mirror while I brush my teeth and not frowning a little at my reflection, of pulling someone in close to my chest and not feeling anything in the way between me and them. so good, it's going to be!

I know that any surgery has its risks, and shouldn't be done lightly. Anesthesia is no joke, and no doctor is perfect. This surgery carries its own specific risks ("I'm sorry, we did everything we could, but....your right nipple didn't pull through. I'm sorry. It's in a better place now.") and there's going to be discomfort, etc, afterwards. But I'm not scared. I've been under anesthesia before, and something tells me that being under anesthesia for hours while doctors are messing with your heart was a little more intense than just three hours of a procedure which, while somewhat invasive, doesn't mess with anything deeper than skin and surface tissue. So I'm not so worried about having surgery, per se. Why am I having these anxiety dreams, then?

Now that I think about it some more, though, the dreams have mostly been about me being afraid of fucking up after the surgery, and somehow causing things to go wrong. In the first one, I dreamt that I went back home before my drains were out, or my stiches removed...somehow without noticing...so that the doctor called me and said "Why'd you go home, you need to be here for your followup!" and I was already back in Portland. I woke up really freaked out from that dream. Then this morning, I dreamt that I was home after surgery, back in my old high school, somehow, and I was trying to get home, but I had things I needed to bring with me and I knew I couldn't carry them because I wasn't supposed to lift anything heavy. But I couldn't find anyone who would help me carry stuff home, and so I kept carrying them myself without thinking about it, and then I'd notice I was lifiting something, and immediately drop it and worry about whether I was messing up my incisions.

That first one is just sort of silly, but this second one is somewhat related to something I was wondering about yesterday. I don't have a good sense of how impaired I am going to be after surgery - how long is it going to be before I've got full function back? I know I have to take it real easy for a couple of weeks, but am I going to be able to navigate getting home from the airport with my suitcase two weeks after surgery? Am I going to be able to reach books off the top shelves when I go back to work the next day? I don't know how things are going to go. So I guess I am a little anxious about that.

Still, these dreams can stop already! I've got less than fifty days til I go under the knife, and at the rate of two anxious dreams every few days, that's more sleepy stress than I need in my life.

4 comments:

roses said...

best nipple joke ever.

abby said...

well, if you really can't carry your suitcases when you have to fly back, i suppose you could have your family check them when they bring you to the airport, and have the person who picks you up from the airport carry them out of the airport - i mean, i'm sure invalids do stuff like this all the time. and you could use stepladders to reach books on top shelves. or, fuck, take another week off work!
your dreams seemed very real to me. i have dreams like that all the time, so much so that when i read your descriptions, i could imagine it perfectly.

when i'm anxious about something, it helps me to visualize it going perfectly over and over again - imagine yourself flying out there, calmly going to the hospital, changing into the gown, calmly lying on the hospital bed, calmly looking at your IVs, waking up from surgery, recovering, watching tv in bed, reading books in bed, asking for help while recovering, going in for after-surgery check ups, taking your pain meds, letting people help you carry things, etc. etc. etc. then, when it happens, everything will feel comfortable and obvious and familiar. maybe try going through this imagery before you go to sleep, and see if that helps the dream situation.

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