Self-care could mean different things to each of us at different points in our lives. Where are you needing a little more support in your life right now? For me, it is emotional self-care.

10 days ago I had hand surgery, my first surgery. Physically everything went as expected and I feel I am healing well, but emotionally I am really struggling. Prior to surgery I took time to visualize a successful surgery and felt mentally prepared going into the day, but I wasn’t prepared for the unknowns and how difficult it would be.

As I was in pre-op I was able to use my voice and ask for what I needed so I was comfortable and able to stay mentally strong. I went into the day understanding that I would have sedation with a nerve block, but the anesthesiologist came in and informed me I would be under general anesthesia. I didn’t want this for many reasons and asked for the other, but it wasn’t an option. I quickly shifted and visualized my surgery with the general anesthesia. I wasn’t able to become fully comfortable with this decision as there was now a lot of activity in pre-op and I was having a hard time fully connecting with my visualization.

When the surgical nurse came she introduced herself, but never looked at me, never made a connection. I could feel myself retreating, not knowing what to do in that moment, not realizing how much I needed her connection to feel safe until after my surgery.

I knew being wheeled away from my husband would be difficult, but I wasn’t given the option to get a hug or kiss from him as my gurney was already moving by the surgical nurse. I heard him call out I love you, but I just wanted his embrace and to know I would be OK.

At this point I’m feeling more uncomfortable, I feel my heart racing and I feel alone as the surgical nurse still isn’t communicating with me even though I’ve tried. When the door to the surgical suite opens it is just too much as the bright lights feel so obtrusive and every sensation that I am feeling is so heightened. Everything is moving so fast now as I’m told they are going to put the anesthesia in my IV. I’m not ready and feel frozen, almost paralyzed to do anything and I can’t find my voice. I’m asked to take deep breaths into the oxygen mask, but I can’t get a good breath. I feel myself fighting and resisting to go under as I’m not ready. A hand comes onto my shoulder and the surgical nurse says we have you, but I couldn’t accept it as a few seconds later I was under.

This experience was not what I envisioned for my surgery. I wanted to feel compassion and connection from everyone I encountered, especially the surgical nurse. As I continue to process this experience I can now verbalize that I didn’t feel safe or supported as I went under. This was an extremely scary space to be in when you are so vulnerable. I have no recollection of this, but my husband says when he came into post-op I was crying and verbalizing everything I didn’t like about my experience. Even as I write this the emotions continue to bubble to the service, my abdomen clenches and continues to be hard to feel/experience.

As we talk about in MFR, our traumas create almost like frozen moments in time that we need to go back and process through. Well, I definitely have one that I am working through and it is filled with fear, anger, sadness, loneliness and a sense of not being supported. This experience has triggered old, deep rooted beliefs that I thought I had fully healed, but now I realize there were deeper subconscious layers that still needed to be worked through.

I’m grateful that I have a team to assist me on my healing journey, an extremely supportive husband, and the knowledge to work through this in a healthy way. Each day I take time for guided meditations to help me reconnect to my self, do self unwindings, allowing the emotions to express themselves as needed and just take it one step at a time. I know that this will take time to fully heal from, but I am dedicated to doing the work because I need to heal fully. Healing isn’t just physical, but emotional in almost all situations.

I’m not going to lie, right now I’m just exhausted and tired of the daily emotional rollercoaster that I am on. But, I have to keep taking one step forward each and every day. That is all that I can ask of myself.

I hope I never have to go in for another surgery, but after my experience I know more about the process and will be able to speak up. Each experience we have in life gives us the opportunity to learn from. We may not like the process or the lesson, but everything is a learning opportunity.