Here were some of my key reflections that may have some relevance the next time you have to encounter surgery. It is clearly not to be an all-inconclusive list.
Lesson 1. Routine and common does not mean easy or without significant stress or the potential of complications. Should you do it and how you do it are key questions to consider.
Lesson 2. Focus on the “what” before the “how”. Invest as much time on getting clarity and being explicit about the key considerations that will be the basis for you to decide what you will do.
Lesson 3. Inquire as to what could happen during and after the surgery. Don’t focus on the possibilities, instead what to expect so you can minimize any highly stressful post-surgery surprises
Lesson 4. Find a surgeon who has done lots of the intended procedure and whose track record is exemplary. Peace of mind is essential before, during and after the procedure.
Lessson 5. Caregiver and/or advocates are invaluable. I was blessed to have my wife, Lola as my caregiver and my gatekeeper. She sent thoughtful group update emails when she knew I needed to rest and recover rather than have me speak to so many wonderful well-wishers when I was not up to it.
Lesson 6. Eliminate future questions as to “what did my doctor say?” Get the consent of your doctor and record your conversations (I would be concerned if they did not agree). I was amazed that even when I thought I was listening carefully during my appointments, I forgot some salient points I heard when I replayed the recording.
Lesson 7. The Role of Gratitude. Opportunities for gratitude abound. Appreciation for the great surgeon, the medical team, the hospital and staff, the technology, the caregiver, friends and family to name a few.
I found gratitude in other places as well. First, the loving thoughts, best wishes, blessings and prayers both before, during and after are very reassuring. It reinforces our life purpose knowing that we make a difference in peoples’ lives.
It has been reported that prayers matter, even when the person being prayed for is unaware of it.
Finally, the personal gratification I had when I took my year-long journey to express my profound appreciation to those who had made a big difference in my life paid huge dividends once again.
When I was about to be given general anesthesia, I was optimistic that everything would be fine. When the thought that there were no guarantees crossed my mind, I was at such peace knowing that I had already expressed my gratitude to all who had been important to me.
This powerful concept will not only serve you when you are alive and well but also when your health and life is in some jeopardy. Yet another reason to not defer the opportunity to express deep gratitude to those who have been important influencers in your life.