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  • Writer's pictureMegan Estes

6 Tips to Help Mentally Prepare For Surgery

Life is precious and fleeting. It can be taken away at any moment, this we know all too well. However, before my husband underwent surgery this last week the dramatic/planner/super-sentimentalist within me made a mental checklist of things we needed to plan for practically, and also plan for in case he were to pass away. I know, I'm morbid! But I also don't walk through life thinking "that will never happen to us." I don't want to be naive and live like we're "invincible." It was a simple hernia surgery that had little risk, but to me it was a high-risk situation that I might lose my husband to. This doesn't mean I have little faith in God or little trust in our medical professionals. Rather, it means that I don't take life for granted. While I don't want to live in fear, we make sure our "goodbyes" are sweet and that we are at peace before leaving each other in every day life--but especially more so when we are headed into an event like going under for surgery. Here are some practical things we did (and wish we had done) to mentally and physically prepare for surgery as a family before we dropped off our sweet daddy.


Mentally prepare before surgery

1. Make sure your life insurance is still active

If this is something you've decided to invest in as a family (I understand not everyone believes in participating in such an investment) make sure you're still getting that monthly charge. I'm super blessed to have a hubby that is financially savvy and values planning ahead for our family. We both feel it is wise to have life insurance on both of us--lots on him, and a little bit on me. If you haven't taken out life insurance and want to, I highly suggest doing so. This was an important part of helping us physically and mentally prepare as a family many years ago.


Time together before surgery

2. Spend time intimately together, and as a family to mentally prepare for the surgery

We enjoyed a slower morning together as a family, even though there was a lot of work needing to be done for his business as well as in our home. We did not let task overrule. The kids needed this time together just as much as I did with my husband. I was a bit weepy. Probably because I'm hormonal and nursing a five month old, ha! We soaked in extra hugs, laughter, and still did some normal life things (like take our four year old to the doctor to get help with his allergies) that morning, because we have four kids and life is often like a freight train that's hard to stop! As I mentioned earlier, I'm super sappy. It was important to me to have these times together because I knew they could possibly be our last. Having precious quality time together really helped me to mentally and emotionally prepare for this surgery.


Support from your community to mentally prepare before surgery

3. Ask for support from your community IN and OUTSIDE of your home to mentally and physically prepare for surgery

I literally asked my almost nine year old son to take a step up this weekend and be a little man. We're always teaching and training to think outside of ourselves and look to the needs of others, but this is on a different level. The big kids needed to understand that they were going to carry a little more weight around the home (extra chores, helping with baby, and being extra flexible). The little kids needed to start processing "daddy's boo-boos" and work on patience cause life can't revolve around them as much as it normally does. Everyone has had to step up a bit and work harder as a team. Our inner circle of friends and family were also aware of the surgery and my emotional state about it all. They checked in, kept praying with us, and even brought yummy food. I'm thankful God gave me the strength to be vulnerable to ask for help and not just carry it all alone (which I'm sometimes tempted to do).


Meal prep before surgery

4. TRY and prep some meals

I say, "try," because I did not do as great at this as I had hoped. I'm usually an avid meal planner because it saves our family money, and also saves my brain from having to decide every day, "what's for dinner?" We may have to eat out a little bit more than planned this week, or make a grocery store delivery or pick-up. I'm working on finding grace for that because our "normal" life requires a lot of this mama, so adding a daddy that needs taken care of means I have to let go of some things. I should have done some more meal planning a week prior because I just didn't have the mental energy to do so the week of the surgery.


Do errands before surgery to mentally prepare

5. Mentally and physically prepare by doing all your errands beforehand, and be flexible and ready for anything

Welp. Learned this the hard way. I just wanted to keep us busy so that we weren't sitting around worrying about daddy. We needed more flexibility on the day of surgery than I realized. We tried to go to a store after dropping daddy off for surgery but baby needed rest and was fussy so we drove home. When we went home to rest my body really shut down and needed to rest with baby. My oldest was incredible and made lunch for the other kids and kept them entertained with shows and fun snacks so I could actually sleep a bit. Then we got a call from the doctor about a few things my husband would need after coming home, which meant we needed to do a Wal-mart run. Unfortunately while we were in Wally World my four year old lost his mind, threw a huge fit, then proceeded to cough so hard he threw up the vitamins I had just given him. (I'm pretty sure this is on me because I think he needed more food in his tummy with those vitamins). Code red on aisle 4!!! We were a little bit of a freak show while there! While all this was happening my husband was trying to call me to say he was ready for us to pick him up but my phone wasn't ringing because apparently it didn't have service! Next, my husband started "pinging" my iPhone because he couldn't get ahold of me, lol! His surgery had gotten done and he was ready for pick up an hour earlier than expected. However, first things first--wipe up the little throw up off the four year old, find the other children that were shopping, check out, then head to get daddy. Thankfully the nurses weren't opposed to just wheeling him straight out to the mini van. Since our kids are younger in age they weren't allowed in pre-op or post-op areas. Once we picked daddy up we still had to get his meds and some things from the pharmacy, but we got it done. I REALLY had to let go of everything we had planned to do during my husband's surgery because I didn't have the emotional energy to do it, and we ran out of time!


Extra grace with kiddos when mentally preparing for surgery

6. Be extra gracious with kiddos as they express emotions differently

We all needed a little extra grace this weekend. Myself and my oldest needed to shed a few tears, while my preschooler needed to cry about something seemingly unimportant because that's how he was processing. Letting the house 'go' a little bit so I could focus on kiddo's hearts also helped. Years ago I would have been frantically cleaning and trying to control more, so I'm thankful I was able to let go and focus on people instead of all the tasks at hand. It's crazy how when you feel zapped emotionally it can transfer to feeling tired physically. I wish I would have gotten a few more things caught up on before surgery day, but I just couldn't get to them. I, too, needed extra grace. Extra grace, extra words of encouragement, and loving hugs were greatly needed!


Conclusion

I thought I was going to be bored and worrying lots during my husband's surgery. (The fact that I thought I'd be bored while caring for four children is quite hilarious now that I think about it!) Surprisingly, I needed to rest while he was in surgery because I emotionally and physically crashed, and we actually ran out of time to get anything done and needed to be super flexible since his surgery was faster than anticipated. I'm so thankful for the things we DID do to prepare, and that there was grace between us all for the things we didn't do. While most of these tips are common sense, I thought it might be helpful to share the reality of what happened versus what we had planned for. Above all, in everything, we kept turning our fears and worries over to God in constant prayer. I'm so thankful everything turned out ok and that our daddy, my forever best friend, is home recovering.

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