As I contemplate my 16th surgery, scheduled for April (four years minus a day from the last one), I’m full of a mix of relief and apprehension. Relief, because my hip will no longer give out on me or stab me with pain, apprehension because I will be having this surgery with no post-surgical pain relief. Narcotics are out—I die, and so far, no one has been able to explain why this happens. And so far, no doctor with whom I’ve spoken has ever encountered anyone whose heart and respiration just quit within minutes of ingesting a narcotic. (Anyone with any scientific or medical education who can explain this is welcome to contact me.) I’ve endured three thumb joint replacements and a hip arthroscopy without meds. When faced with the hip joint replacement four years ago, my surgeon insisted I try half the lowest dose of oxycodone, which did take the edge off, but after two and a half weeks without any issues, nearly killed me. I’m not ready to go, yet, so I won’t go that route again. I have a different surgeon, who actually listens when I talk! Imagine that!
I’ve tried self-hypnosis, but for whatever reason, it didn’t take. The second practitioner, a highly regarded fellow, did try hard. “When I tell you to open your eyes, you will not be able to. You may open your eyes.” (Eyes pop wide open.) “Hmm, that’s odd,” he says. He works for another 15 minutes to relax me. (Were I any more relaxed, I’d have melted into the chair.) Once again, no dice. I smile. He frowns. All right, now we are trying something different. “In your mind’s eye, you see a lemon on a shelf in the refrigerator. Think of what a lemon looks like. You open the refrigerator and in your mind, you see a lemon on the shelf.” Uhh, there’s no refrigerator, there’s no lemon, there’s no nothin.’ But I can describe in exquisite detail what it might look like, because I know my crappy refrigerator and I’m more than a bit familiar with a lemon.
“Let’s try something else. What’s your most peaceful, favorite place on earth?” Well, Fort Lauderdale beach at sunrise is right up there near the top, but when I go through all the steps with this master hypnotist, once again, my mind’s eye sees only the weird little shapes and lines one sees with one’s eyes closed. No beach, no sunrise, no waves, no seagulls, no trash.
Good thing I wasn’t paying for this session. The gentleman blamed only himself for his lack of skill, but I doubt that. You see, he has taught the Icehogs hockey team self-hypnosis without any issue, he has helped hundreds of smokers and overweight folks to quit smoking and/or lose weight. He has never failed to hypnotize a subject.
Research shows that 23-25% of the population cannot visualize, the same percentage who cannot be hypnotized. Apparently, our brains are, somehow, different.
“The study used data from functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging to identify how the areas of the brain associated with executive control and attention tend to have less activity in people who cannot be put into a hypnotic trance.” (http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/10/06/not-getting-sleepy-not-everyone-can-be-hypnotized/45672.html)
So, here I sit, knowing that I will be unmedicated, but also knowing that I have a very high pain threshold, and that at worst, the worst of the pain will only last a week. I also have been assured that this surgery will be nothing like the previous one. I’ll be in the hospital overnight, rather than four and a half days; no muscles or tendons will be damaged, making recovery much faster and less painful. Trying to focus on the positive, here. Although I will not have my late beloved brother to come and care for me this time, I have a wonderful circle of friends who have promised to be here for me for as long as I need them.
I just want this done. Over. Fini. I want to be able to move this summer without the constant pain or worry of collapsing in mid-stride. I need to be able to pick up and carry boxes and stuff, a bit of a challenge with a cane. (I trip over the damned cane even on a good day. But I trip over nothing at all on a good day, too, so there…)
Just 82 days, 14 hours and 8 minutes to go…