1 Month and Three Days until I walk into the hospital, put on my gown and go into surgery (oh, and I will get some good drugs at some point in there too!). To say I'm freaking out might be a bit of an understatement. As the time has come closer, my thoughts and worries have increased. No matter how much I learn about my heart, the surgery, the recovery, and the long term effects, I feel like I still am missing important information. If I was the premiere CHD Surgeon in the world, I believe I would feel the same way. Its stressful to know that the surgery is coming, but in the meantime there is absolutely nothing I can do to prepare (besides buying the C-shaped pillow, button down shirts, zip up bras and boy short panties ;) ). Being the type A personality that I am, I wish there were something I could work on in order to hurry the process along, but alas there isn't.
I am also constantly sizing myself up. I find myself thinking "is this what normal people do when they find out about CHD", "What are my friends, colleagues and professors thinking about this constant downer mood I'm in", "Do most people get frustrated this much, cry this much [insert a multitude of negative emotions and expressions here] this much!" "Is it okay for me to feel upset right now?" "Is this the normal response, is that the normal response."
Finally, I have had enough. I recognize these feelings of sadness, fear and anxiety are not going to stop until this surgery is over, but I have decided that I must acknowledge them and accept them as my unique expression of grief. This term normal is a lie. This need I feel to express my grief in a "normal" way is absurd. There is no normal in this situation. Grief is never normal, it is unique. I have finally given myself permission to work through this in my own way. To recognize when I need to acknowledge my sadness and fear, and to recognize when I need to push it away and just go have fun ,or go study and get back to my regular routine.
For those preparing for surgery, recovering from surgery, reading for a friend or loved one, or reading for me, these are the thoughts that have bothered me most. After speaking with others, I know these anxious feelings affect many facing the surgery. My best advice on coping, is to accept that you have to cope in your own way, and that is absolutely and totally okay! This process of preparation for surgery gives you a chance to learn about yourself in the toughest of ways. This preparation has forced me to accept that normal doesn't exist. The best thing I can do to both prepare for my surgery and to prepare for my life is to feel in in the ways that are best for me, and not the ways I think others expect me to.
So this is coping with 1 month and three days left. It is filled with lots of retail therapy, a good many cries and talks with the counselor, lots of laughs and love with the huge number of friends here to support me and finally with a thankfulness for the future I get to have after this entire ordeal is over!