July 25, 2014

The Importance of Good Pajamas: How to Prepare for Surgery with Love. ~ Sas Petherick

flannels, pajamas

“Later this year” is tomorrow.

Up until now, my heart surgery has mostly been, “That Thing Happening Later This Year.”

Super early in the morning, we’ll drive to the Harley Street Heart Clinic. A team of (presumably, hopefully) very well-trained and knowledgeable peeps, who deeply value humans and their hearts, will access my heart via my femoral artery and perform some magic.

So yeah. Just an average Tuesday where I abdicate absolute control of my body, and entrust my life to a group of complete strangers.

I am fascinated by how our thoughts create our reality, so I’ve been paying close attention to mine.

I know that if I let myself just go ahead and think about my surgery, I would get all tangled up in knots of fear and anxiety. I would start to argue with reality (which always creates suffering) and slide quickly into victim mode (which always creates powerlessness).

Without supervision, my thoughts can’t wait to pull on their crazypants and, very quickly, things get real ugly in there.

*taps head*

So I have been experimenting with something new.

I’ve been trying to love this situation—to wrap my enormous figurative heart around my literal one and see what happened.

I’ve been choosing to think thoughts like:

  • This is happening for me—this is about healing.
  • I love my life and I want to extend it for as long as possible.
  • Now is the perfect time for this to happen.
  • I am so lucky to be alive right now, when there is proper science and ace technology to treat my heart.

I still woke up this morning with rocks in my belly, but the feary anxious thoughts are quieter and more proportionate.

Through the process of investigating the cause of my dicky ticker, I’ve been very present. For many conversations with doctors using big fancy complicated words, for the poking and proding and being felt up by several people who are not my husband.

I’ve asked my cardiologist to draw several pictures so I could understand what was happening, and I have been able to stay with what is known and happening right now, rather than leap to some catastrophic uncertain outcome.

More than anything, by trying to love this process I’ve been able to take care of me.

Rather than just worry, I have been able to sit and meditate on what a successful, easy surgery would feel like.

When I come home in a few days I can recover peacefully: our fridge is stocked, podcasts are downloaded, there is a stack of old movies on Tivo and another of books on my bedside table.

I’ve bought tiny nurses hats for our furs, Rex and Badger.

So there is nothing left for me to do, but pack my good pajamas.

And pray.

It’s been a little while since the surgery; recovery has been slow and steady and my prognosis is very good. The whole experience has left me feeling so grateful. I’m convinced that the timing really was perfect—not only for the knowledge and technology available, but also, where I am in my own evolution as a practicing human.

Because for a long time, I wasn’t all that present in my life.

Work, pinot noir, shopping, food, too many mad adventures with inappropriate lovers—it was all an Olympic-level exercise in staying busy, to avoid being alone and facing the truth. That I felt broken, disconnected and angry, often with a little guilt and shame sprinkled on top. Neat.

Choosing to befriend my thoughts, and being with hard feelings has freed me in a way that the six weeks I spent backpacking around Italy, never could.

I am so much more present to my life—including the difficult, scary, uncertain parts. It is a gift to notice that I am always able to be with what is happening in this moment.

And isn’t that all our lives are? Just a series of moments.

I want to be present for all of them.


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Apprentice Editor: Alicia Wozniak/Editor: Travis May

Photo: Erich Ferdinand/flickr

Bio Photo: Xanthe Berkeley

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