Control Yourself. Alter Your Thinking. Delete Negativity.

This is my mantra. It’s what I strive to do everyday. Some days it works…others, well, not so much. Every day is a challenge. Whether its trying to push through the pain of the myriad of things I am dealing with physically; or trying to drum up the energy to get through the day to deal with the hurdles I am dealing with mentally. I push myself and tell myself that there’s no sense worrying about “things”…I just have to deal with them the best I can.

Yesterday I had epidural steroid injections in my lower back. I have been receiving these every three months to deal with two herniated discs and deterioration in my spine. I was supposed to have had this procedure over a month ago but as I had undergone three surgeries in December, things were postponed as the steroids injected into my back would impede my healing. As much as I hate the procedure, I need it in order to stay mobile. Yesterday, I arrived at the hospital at 7:45am as I was scheduled for 8:15. I know the drill and all the nurses recognize me. They call me the “pillow lady” as I’ve had to bring special pillows into the operating room to help cushion my chest as I lie face down on the operating table. They are always chatty and try very hard to keep me calm…as they’ve experienced first hand one of my anxiety attacks! Because the interval between my appointments had been much longer than usual, I was in a lot of pain. Upon arrival, you are given a questionnaire where you have to indicate on a diagram where on your body you are feeling pain. My diagram is usually shaded all over as I am experiencing pain from more than just my back. You also have to rate your pain. Zero being no pain, up to ten being the worst pain imaginable. Yesterday I was a seven. You also have to indicate how the pain affects your mobility, your mood, your interaction with others and your level of activity. I usually rate these lower than my pain score as I try to not let the pain affect other parts of my life…even though it most definitely does! When I was wheeled into the O.R. the nurses and my surgeon greeted me with big smiles.

“Hey, Patti. How are you doing? We had a bit of a hiccup last time you were here. Are you all healed up now?”

“Yep, I’m doing well thanks. And I’ll be doing even better after you stick me with those needles!”

They laughed, helped me lower myself onto the table, adjusted the pillows under my chest and strapped a blood pressure cuff onto my arm. At this point I had to work REALLY hard to stay calm. I knew what was about to happen…and it hurts like hell. I focused on my breathing…I hummed along to the music being piped into the room and I engaged in idle chit chat with everyone in the room. Yesterday we talked about the best places to vacation in Caribbean. I thought about where I have traveled…the beaches…the crystal clear water…sun…sand…and… FU#K that hurt! One of the needles inserted caused my left leg to feel like it was on fire! My leg was burning with pain while feeling like I couldn’t move it. Lord, when will this be over?!

I managed to focus again on what I could control…altering my thoughts and deleting the fear and negativity that was trying to invade my mind. My palms were sweating, my heart was racing with the anticipation of the next needle. Calm yourself Patti…breathe! Thirty minutes later I was finished. The nurses helped me off the operating table and onto the guerney that would take me to recovery. I lay there for about 15 minutes and then asked if I could get dressed and leave.

“Are you sure you’re ready? There’s no rush.”

“Oh yes, I’m good.” I wasn’t really good, but I needed to get out of there. I had “stayed calm” for as long as I could. Lying there waiting was not helping me. I needed to leave! The nurse said it was ok to get dressed if I was sure I was ok. I assured her, sat up, swung my legs over the edge and stood up. Or at least I tried to stand but my left leg buckled under me and down I went! I managed to get back up with the help of the nurse and was forced to lay there awhile longer, waiting for the feeling in my leg to return. As hard as I try, there are some things I can’t control, alter or delete…I just have to focus on pushing through those situations, obstacles and pain to keep myself focused, calm and positive. It is what it is. It was what it was. It will be what it will be. And I’m trying not to stress about it!


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President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.

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