I needed this. I needed the rating scale. Piper mentioned this when they had their surgery, and it didn’t really hit me how I didn’t have a pain scale understanding until today. I was thinking I was a 2. According to this I’m a solid 4 or 5, pretty much consistently.
Post surgery about 32 hours later, I was a 7 for a day, then back down to 4 and 5.
I took today off to go have surgery again. It was in a procedure room, with my surgeon and not nearly as antiseptic as an operating room situation like the last surgery.
I sat in the room by myself looking at things and trying to stay calm. My surgeon talked to me for a good amount of time, and said if I’m really anxious, it’s okay to do this in the operating room.
He was so kind (he’s always kind) and smart and friendly that I felt like I could do it. But as soon as he started, I started getting exponentially anxious. He ripped the glue/tape off. He started to shoot me up with lidocaine. I was breathing and my body was as stiff as a board. He paused to ask me how I was doing, he and the nurse offering assurances and talking me through things.
Then I started crying. I had my right arm up above my head for the surgery as instructed. I covered my face with my arm and silent tears started flooding down into my mask. They were so sweet to me and asked me if it was too much and if I needed to do it in the surgery center tomorrow.
I nodded and snorted “yes” through ugly crying tears.
Pre-attempted surgery, my surgeon talked about the brain and body and the brain’s impact on pain. He said that it takes the body the time it takes to heal, but the brain has a significant role in how we experience the pain. He said having cancer is hard, that having a year minimum of my life having to deal with all of these really challenging things is really hard. That my mind never gets a real break because there’s always another appointment and there’s the waking up every day remembering, “breast cancer.” That it is really ok–really–to take the time off work that I need for myself, for any reason I need it right now, because this.is.HARD. That it’s okay to take care of myself, and to put myself first right now, because I need it. It’s okay to sit at home today taking care of myself. It’s okay to miss work for this.
He was so validating and loving.
So when I chose to say, “no, I can’t do this,” there was 0 judgement. He and the nurse just glued me up and got me ready for tomorrow. Fasting, special soap shower, intubation, and a clueless surgery (me, I’ll be knocked out on drugs) are on my scene report for tomorrow.
Sometimes the brave thing is to allow ourselves to remember that we do not have to experience pain if not experiencing it is an option. Sometimes it’s ok to take the “easy” option that doesn’t increase the pain. Strike that–it’s always okay to choose the no pain option.
We can do hard things.
I can do hard things. I can advocate for myself. Even though I felt like it was going to inconvenience Jess, my co-workers and my students I made this choice for myself. I cried all the way through it, but I chose me today.
Choose yourself. Every time.