I had surgery on one of my fingers about 5 days ago, and I am able to type...a little.
My expectation had been that they were to put me under for the surgery but the charming East Indian anesthesiologist insisted that blocking the nerves in my arm, in conjunction with some drugs that would put me to sleep, would be better, safer for me, that I wouldn't remember the procedure and I would "take a nice nap" during all of it.
I did my best to convince the anesthesiologist that this method was not best for me. I told him I had post traumatic stress disorder, but it went right over his head. I could not make myself understood.
Having post traumatic stress disorder is not something one decides to have. It isn't something a person can decide NOT to have. A great deal of management is possible, of course, and part of that management is avoiding circumstances that aggravate the illness.
I was terribly concerned about waking up in the middle of surgery, which is exactly what happened, as a matter of fact. I woke up not once, but twice during the procedure, and it was gruesome.
The first time I woke up was early on in the procedure, the nice old anesthesiologist was still inserting needles into my upper arm in order to block all feeling, explaining the procedure to students as he did so.
I have a thing about needles. In grade school, the other children used to delight in watching me faint when they talked to me about needles. I would turn as white as a sheet and then fall to the floor. They loved it.
Needles have always freaked me out, and it has taken a huge amount of mental gymnastics to get me used to needles, but they still stress me out, and even a simple blood test requires so much mental energy to avoid fainting, I need to rest for an entire day afterward.
The second time I woke up while the surgeon was operating on the bone inside my left index finger. I wasn't wearing my eyeglasses, and I am legally blind without them, so I couldn't swear on the number of people standing around my hand, but I want to say there were 4 or 5, including the surgeon. To my right, was a different anesthesiologist, a young man, (probably an intern). He was looking down, away from the machines that were supposed to be informing him of my vital statistics. I could be wrong, but I THINK he was either reading a book or he was asleep.
I said to him, "Hey...I'm awake...put me back to sleep!" He turned around to look at the machines, reached his arm out to them and did whatever he had to do to get me back to sleep. Thanks be to God, I went back to sleep very shortly thereafter.
Being forced to undergo a type of anesthesiology I knew would not work for me, being strapped down to a table with various machines, IV lines and straps, then waking up TWICE during the procedures was a personal nightmare for me.
Not many people understand post traumatic stress disorder. Even when I explain to them the circumstances that aggravate the illness, most people just don't get it. Some people say things that give me the impression that they think I "should be" in control of it, as if all I have to do is just decide to make it go away. Sadly, it doesn't work like that. Post traumatic stress disorder is pretty much a permanent condition.
It would have been better for me if they had put me out for the surgery, just as was promised when I first discussed the surgery with the surgeon. I wouldn't have had to wake up TWICE during the surgery, and I wouldn't have yet another traumatic series of events to add to the collection.
I knew that my fear would shoot those pain killers and other drugs right out of my system. This is why the dentist had to put me OUT to remove my tooth a few years ago, otherwise he would have had to keep shooting me up, over and over again, with Novocaine. My fear and elevated blood pressure just dissipates the drugs out of my system. I had experience with this with previous dental work. That's how I knew.
Spiritual life doesn't inoculate you from post traumatic stress disorder. It doesn't cure bipolar disorder or countless other diseases. It certainly helps one to cope, though. It gives one a platform from which to fight the sorrows and problems of life. Occasionally, there is a miracle, such as when Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead. Those kind of things still happen, but they are the exception rather than the rule.
While I recover from the surgery and from the added load to my collection of traumatic events, while I heal from yet another instance of not being heard, I cling to the Lord. I cling to our blessed mother. Resting in her arms, I pray the rosary. At 5 O'clock in the evening, I attend the EWTN televised mass, following with my Adoremus Hymnal. While walking the dog, I pray for my neighbors, my neighborhood, my city, my state and the world. The Jesus Prayer slows my breathing as I putter around the house, doing only the most necessary chores. Throughout my day, I pray short little prayers of exasperation, hope and healing.
Gradually, I heal, and I know that everything will be alright. The surgeon didn't think it is cancer, which is a blessing. The finger is healing nicely, despite the glob of excess super-glue they used to close up the wound which, evidently, was bleeding profusely, since the super glue is clearly mixed with a lot of dark blood. I don't think there is supposed to be such a large amount of super glue, but the surgeon probably left it up to a student to close it up, and these things happen. I hope the blob of blood-colored super glue will fall off before I see the next doctor in a couple of weeks. An appointment has been made for me with a doctor I've never heard of, yet another person to whom I must try to explain myself.
If you ever find yourself in the position of attending someone with post traumatic stress disorder, I hope you can remember to give them love, understanding, and respectful listening. They know better than anyone what they can tolerate and what will exacerbate their post traumatic stress disorder. They already carry a heavy burden and need as much sympathy and gentleness as you can muster. Do your best.
God bless us all.