Having had a number of surgeries performed on myself, I think it’s safe to say that the whole thing is extremely nerve-wracking. And not just on the surgery day itself. Here in Canada, scheduling an appointment with any type of specialist takes freaking forever. I will never forget when my dad was referred to a specialist, and when their office finally called for an appointment date, it was for the following year! Like, what?! It’s honestly ridiculous, but hey, at least our healthcare is free, so I shouldn’t complain. Unfortunately, getting scheduled for a surgery takes quite some time as well. I remember when I started going to clinics and seeing doctors back in August (2016) for balance issues and vision problems. A problem was finally figured out around November, and my surgery was scheduled for February 2017. AKA, I had about a 6-month window of pre-surgery stress. Let me tell you, it’s not a lot of fun.
First off, when you’re experiencing any sort of symptoms, and you go to the doctors to try to figure out what’s going on, it usually takes some tine before the answer comes to light. This means that while the doctor is trying to figure out exactly what the problem may be, other diagnoses might come up that don’t even apply to you. For example, when I spoke with an ENT the first time I had hearing problems (before I was diagnosed with NF2), he told me that everyone is working hard to figure it all out, but there is a possibility that I could have cancer. Say whaaa Mr. Health Care Professional?! I thought I was just coming to get my ears cleaned and now you’re telling me I might have cancer?
This time, because I’ve already been diagnosed with NF2, I had the knowledge of having a bunch of tumours in my body that may or may not grow at any time. So I automatically assumed one was growing. But even though I had a good sense of what might be happening, I was still getting freaked out. Are you serious? It’s back already? I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about this stuff for a while :’(.
My hearing in my left ear was already gone, and now my balance and vision are compromised? Will I ever be able to function normally again? Is it worse to have everything taken away from you all at once when you’re older, or have it slowly taken away; where you see your body declining at a young age, leaving you with little hope for your future?
I couldn’t drive anymore, because I would accidentally veer my car into other lanes randomly (since my balance was off). Not to mention I couldn’t see all that well either. To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether my balance was off because of my vision, or I couldn’t see properly because my balance was off. Either way, they both sucked, and I was carefully supervised by family members to make sure I wasn’t in any harms’ way (any other harms’ way…).
After getting a surgery date, although I was a little relieved to finally start solving this problem of mine, I was just as anxious as my first time. I suddenly feared waking up in the middle of the surgery and feeling the hospital tools piercing through my skin. I feared not ever waking up from surgery because some deadly thing might go wrong, and I could be that one case in a million, that died on the surgery table. I was sad to have to cut my hair again and felt uncomfortable at the thought of having random doctors and medical students see me in a vulnerable state, naked and afraid underneath that dreadful hospital gown.
I was worried for my family, especially my parents, who have to see their youngest daughter go yet again under the knife. I saw the pain and sadness in my mom’s eyes after every doctor’s appointment, and hated being the person who unintentionally was the source of it.
Doctors and nurses will tell you how to prepare for surgery, what things you should pack for the hospital, what exercises will be helpful after the surgery is over and you’re recovering, but no one can really prepare you for what it’s like. Even after this trilogy, if any of you ever have to go through surgery (ad I pray that none of you do, ever), I cannot effectively explain how to mentally prepare yourself for such an event. It’s something that really no one can truly understand until they themselves have gone through it.
But I can tell you this: you will survive it. You will succeed, you will recover, and you will be back to your normal self – this time, may be a little bit more mature, more wise, more humble, more empathetic. You will survive, and you will be even better than before! This I guarantee.
To all those who have gone through surgery, are going through it, or are waiting for that dreadful surgery date, my prayers are with you, and I commend you for your enormous amount of courage and strength (both mentally and physically). I can’t tell you not to be afraid, that’s almost impossible, but don’t ever give up hope, and be confident in your present and future self.
I’ll follow this entry up with my thoughts on the actual surgery day, and the process of it all, but until then my fellow readers, bloggers, and internet trolls alike, I bid you farewell, and wish you the best for today, tomorrow, and for all your days ahead.