Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Micromanaging a Microsurgery

The countdown has begun. My prophylactic mastectomy and reconstructive surgery is coming up awfully soon.

My mind is going a little nuts with anticipation, anxiety, excitement… MORE anxiety.  Seriously, I have begun worrying about EVERYTHING.

What if I get sick with the flu the week before surgery? What if my daughter totally freaks out when I am not with my family for five nights? What if there is a horrible snowstorm right before my surgery date? What if my surgeon sneezes while he is operating on me and cuts me in half? What if my two year old cries for 6 straight weeks because I cannot hug him/hold him? What if a freak tornado hits at the exact moment I am having surgery done? What if my husband mixes red clothes in with the white laundry while I am out of commission? What if the surgeons discover an alien living in my body? 

See? I worry about EVERYTHING.

I also worry about dying on the operating table. 

I also worry about looking like a rag doll post-surgery.

And truthfully, I also worry that I am going to go through with this surgery, and will look like a rag doll, and then I will get breast cancer anyway. Or ovarian cancer. Or melanoma. Or tongue cancer. 

But “Que sera, sera,” right? I should give up on all this unproductive worrying because it is so… UNPRODUCTIVE! I should listen to the words of my daughter’s animated idol, Elsa of Arendale, and just “Let it go! Let it go!” 

And yet, because I have been anticipating this surgery for months now, and because the anticipation has involved all aspects of my head, my heart, my soul…  I just can’t let it go.

Generally speaking, honestly, I am totally a no-drama, easy-peasy lemon squeezy kind of gal. This kind of thing just brings out my inner Woody Allen.

So in an effort to combat all the negative thoughts that swirl around in my brain and distract me from being my normally optimistic self, I have been doing what I know works best to help me calm down and be less freaky. No, not yoga (yoga makes me antsy). No, not meditation (meditation makes me loopy). No, not self-medication (drugs make me queasy). 

My therapy of choice? The OneNote app.

Planning, and uber-planning, and micro-planning every aspect of this upcoming surgery has been my means of self-soothing over the last several weeks, and I've done it all on the cute OneNote app. In my OneNote notebook, I have created a plethora of lists related to the surgery, each filed under a different beautifully colored tab. I have created a “packing list” tab, an “important contacts” tab, a “places to go” tab which lists activities for Chris to do with the kids in my absence, a “shopping list” tab, a “sample schedule” tab (providing Chris with a basic outline of the children’s day), and a “preparing the house” tab. All of these tabs form a beautiful rainbow of preparation, and it is oh so calming for me to look at them. 

If I am feeling panicky, all I have to do is add a pastel colored new tab to my OneNote notebook with a list of books to read or movies to see while I am out on sick leave.  As I focus on compiling a list of dramas and comedies, my worries start to dissipate, and I start to see my upcoming sick leave as an opportunity to catch up on all the Oscar-nominated contenders. Voila! It’s like magic.

I know what this is about, of course. I’m no fool. I am trying to control what I CAN control, because the thought of giving up ALL control as I am laying on the operating table, getting my anesthesia cocktail administered, is totally frightening to me.

Obviously, in a short period of time, my surgery is going to be a reality, and not just tabs and checklists in a OneNote notebook.  Obviously, I have to face my fears, or “embrace the tiger” as I like to say, and just trust that everything is going to turn out okay. I have an amazing surgeon and an amazing team performing an amazing surgery. I have an amazingly supportive family, and an amazingly supportive group of friends, who are all going to be pulling for me and praying for me (and maybe preparing food for our family, which is double amazing). I have made an amazing choice, and I am following through with the choice I have made. All in all, this is an amazing opportunity, and I can see it as just that, if I simplify everything in my head and heart. Because really, deep down inside, I know I am a strong person, and I trust my strength, and I trust in God, and I trust that everything will be okay. Really. 

But for now, I also trust in the OneNote app. It will get me through the coming weeks, and will provide me with a trusty little haven of pretty colored tabs.




  1. You also have me! Anything you guys need, even in a pinch, I'd love to help. When my mom got her hysterectomy and there were complications during and post surgery, my dad had to do a lot on his own for me and my sister and we didn't get much help, but this is why I pay things forward when ever I can. Let me know if I could ever help :)

  2. If there's any of those lists I can take care of for you, let me know. Love and smooshies.