You’ll be standing awkwardly in pre-op as the nurses bustle around you. Your clothes will go into a sealed bag and you’ll be wearing a thin cotton robe/smock. But taped to your chest will be a little piece of paper with some affirming words. You’ll also give a paper copy to the anesthesiologist whenever you have a chance to meet him. Peggy Huddleston devotes a whole chapter of her book (required reading!) to making a plan with your anesthesiologist which will include these affirmations, as well as discussing your options.
For me it all happened just a few minutes before the surgery, but I suggest you aim for better. I did try to make contact with mine in advance, but I was told that the particular anesthesiologist would not be assigned to my surgery until a few days before the operation. I decided that I would have whatever conversation needed to be had on the day of. As it turned out, he was occupied in the hip replacement surgery before mine, so I had a conversation with a different anesthesiologist, who then called mine by telephone (in the operating theater, I assume). When I did finally meet him, I was already fairly sedated, which was not the best time to answer the question he asked me. “How sleepy do you want to be?” Sleepy sounded good so I said, “pretty sleepy”. In retrospect I wish I had asked for “less sleepy”, as it would be therefore less toxins to clear from my system afterwards (it is a potent medicine with side effects, right?). It is my understanding that even with lighter twilight anesthesia, there is no memory of the operation. This would be the one area I feel that I underprepared for, granted there were no serious consequences.
Ok, back to the little piece of paper that Peggy’s book will tell you how to write.
I know. Affirmations. Isn’t that part of the curriculum at Trump University? Stand in front of the mirror and recite “you are rich” until it becomes true? As with hypnosis and self-hypnosis, we all have well-founded reasons for raising at eyebrow at this. But when you read Peggy’s book, you’ll see the well-established scientific basis for using affirmations in a medical context.
And if you’ve been using Peggy’s CD or Hemi-Sync mind training recordings, you’ve experienced very real effects from visualization. You’ve actually been building up your capacity to modulate your physical, mental and emotional states at will. Now you’re going to put yourself in the most ideal state to receive a surgical intervention. And part of that is hearing positive messages like the ones you’ll find the Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster book.
In Peggy’s book you’ll see that there are variations to choose from and that you can add a bonus statement if you wish. Statements are more effective when framed only in terms of the positive: “you will feel comfortable” rather than “you are free of pain and worry” or”you will have no pain or anxiety”. Say each of those and see for yourself if they feel different.
I asked my artistically inclined daughter for a drawing to go with it. That’s a warm blanket of healing vibes.
OK, so did these custom affirming statements work?
Yes! I did wake up craving apple juice and I did urinate easily. Whether the thoughts of well-wishing and prayers played a supportive role, I can’t say… and I found it deeply settling going in, knowing that the anesthesiologist or others who might read those statements to me during surgery were aligning their intentions with these outcomes that I had designed.
I also sent this drawing as part of an email to 60 acquaintances a few days before surgery, with the request that they imagine me as pictured above, calm and well, during the hours I would be spent waiting in pre-op. Some people call that prayer and bring higher powers into it. In any case, the idea is that if anyone in your circle thinks of you on that day, it should be in the service of strengthening the reality where everything goes well, rather than visualizing and fretting over possible mishaps (I consider that a kind of prayer, too, except it is giving support to mishap).
I can tell you that I did feel extremely calm and relaxed during that 60-90 minutes in pre-op (actually I think mine was delayed and so it was 2 hours). I was wrapped in a warm air blanket contraption that is simply heavenly and I took whatever they gave me (I’m sure there were some opiates in there, but I wasn’t quibbling). I recall feeling fully supported, safe and protected.
Did you have a friend with you in pre-op?
I didn’t. The person who drove me to the hospital (Kaiser San Leandro), my beloved wife Amy, was suffering with a lingering cold but I decided in any case I would rather have my headphones playing these recordings that had such a profound effect on me. If you felt that you needed someone to advocate for you in terms of anesthesia in particular, that might be a reason to have someone there with you.
But I don’t expect you’ll need someone to hold your hand and keep you calm. You’re going to be calm because you’re reading this blog and preparing yourself on every level. Your surgery date is the culmination of weeks (or better, months) of preparation.