KEEPING GROUNDED

     My ninth surgery is a week away. I have so much to do to prepare. Surgery is the easy part because I’m asleep. It’s the recovery that is always hard. This is a minor surgery, but I’m sure recovery will be challenging. Everyone tells me different stories about carpal tunnel surgery. Some make it sound rough, while others say it is easy. I must be prepared for whatever lies ahead, and I must keep my anxiety under control as I get ready.

      Everyone’s anxiety attacks are different. For me, my thoughts go on overload. A small worry grows and grows until it becomes a huge one. I tense up, I start dry heaving, I become nauseated, and I get sick. Right now, as I prepare for my surgery and recovery my anxiety is on high. I’m a worrier and I am worrying about everything obsessively.

     I will be one-handed for a while. I am right-handed and that’s the hand the surgery is on. Cooking will be difficult, so my husband and I are planning easy meals that he can cook. After my other surgeries people, brought us some meals. Some of the people who brought us meals then have other things going on now. I feel weird asking people to help us out. Planning easy meals is the best idea I have. I also need easy lunches I can do on my own while Lou is at work.

     You’d think with only two people there wouldn’t be a lot of laundry, but it’s never ending. I have baskets of clean laundry in the basement and plenty of dirty in our room. I need to get the laundry cleaned and put away. I need to have clothes at easy access, so I don’t have to search for things to wear. It should be interesting dressing one-handed. I am picking out easy slip-on outfits for after surgery.

     I do the finances and keep track of the ledger of our expenses. I write them down in a notebook. I set up each page like a checkbook with a column for transaction, a column for withdrawal, one for deposits, and a final column to do adding and subtracting. I’ve been filling out extra pages with these columns and explaining to Lou how I do them. I keep a monthly planner with what bills need to be paid each week. I’ve been going over it with Lou also.

     I filled out an application for an employee fund through work to help us with our mortgage. That put my anxiety into overdrive. We usually put money aside from my checks each week towards the mortgage, and what I will get for disability will not be enough. I got the grant last year for my back surgery, but what if they deny me because it wasn’t that long ago that I received it? During my recoveries I always write and woodburn to cope, but this time I won’t be able to. How will I cope? Lou won’t be able to take as much time off to help me after surgery. How will I manage on my own? Will I be able to dress in the morning? How will I text and call my support team with one hand?

     The worries race through my mind and they get bigger and bigger. I have been working hard at keeping myself from having an anxiety attack by using grounding techniques. Below is an example of how I use the techniques.

     When I start dry heaving, my stomach twists, and I begin to feel like I’m going to get sick, I look at a picture of the grounding techniques my friend Cheryl sent me, and I start to go through them.

  • I look around me.
  • Five things I see are: my dog Esther, pictures of my nieces and nephews, my handsome husband, our couch, and flower print curtains my grandma gave me before she passed.
  • Four things I can touch: my dog’s soft fur, my husband’s beard, my cool cup of water, and the knitted covering on our couch.
  • Three things I can hear: the fan, my favorite CD, and the neighbors.
  • Two things I can smell: Garlic bread and the lemon scent air freshener.
  • One thing I can taste: Chocolate.

Doing this technique takes my mind off my worries and has me concentrating on things around me instead of the war inside me. To do the steps, I really have to look around and use my senses. It keeps my mind busy. As I do the grounding, my anxiety lessens and my stomach calms down. I’m able to prevent an anxiety attack. I forget about my worries, and I can think more realistically.

This technique may help you deal with your anxiety attacks and panic attacks. Write down these grounding steps and keep them close by. When you feel an attack coming on, pull them out and go through them. Believe it or not, it takes a lot of concentration to follow each step. That means you’re thinking about something other than your fears and worries. Give it a try and see if it helps.

Practicing the grounding techniques helps me prevent an anxiety attack and allows me to relax in the light of recovery.

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