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When you have Spina Bifida sometimes you may need a lot of surgeries to stay healthy and manage your condition. Some people with Spina Bifida may not need as many but a lot of surgeries is a fact of life for some people and with any surgery comes with possible complications. I had hip replacement surgery last February and on Thursday I went back to my orthopedic surgeon to see the progress of my hip and learned that it was doing everything but healing. I find out that I somehow fracture my femur (which is the area right above where I had my hip replaced) and will need surgery within the next couple of months to prevent further damage but the good news is I have no pain because it’s in an area I have limited sensation so yay for my disability in this case! My hips are naturally weak because of my Spina Bifida and my doctor thinks the fracture was probably caused by weakness because I haven’t fallen recently. When your doctor gives you bad news that you weren’t expecting it can be frustrating especially if you know that the first surgery was horrible and the second is probably not going to be much better. It can be hard to stay positive when you are expecting surgery because all you can think about is what’s bad about your situation. If you are struggling to stay positives because of some bad news here are some ways that you can be more positive so you aren’t miserable up until the day.
I expect bad news- Whenever I go to the doctor I anticipate being told the worst news imaginable because when you live with a disability that can change without warning it’s a fact of life and you can’t go to every single doctor’s appointment expecting that you will get great news every single time. Some doctor’s appointments like my neurologist I don’t anticipate it as much because some of my problems can’t be fixed surgically and I have never gotten that kind of news at certain doctors. Whenever I go to a specialist appointment I always expect the worst news because I have gotten unfortunate news one too many times and you never know what is going to happen. I know it seems like it would be the worst way to handle medical problems but it has helped me better cope with bad news and although I am not always told something bad when I am it helped me be better prepared so I can move past it rather quickly.
Give yourself some time to be upset– When I found out that needed surgery again I had all kinds of emotions and I am not going to sit here and tell you that the moment I heard it I was like “eh it’s life” because I was pretty upset about it. When I first got the news that I needed surgery, I was mad at myself and wondered if I did something to cause it or if my doctor made a mistake the first time but we will truly know what happened because neither of those things could be true. The day I got the bad news I didn’t want to talk to anyone but my sisters saved the day and reminded me that I was not alone and came over with a nice little gift basket to make my day better. It didn’t totally fix my situation because nothing can but I got some tasty treats out of it! I was mad and I gave myself one day to feel that way but after that, I decided I am not going to allow myself to be angry because although it’s okay to wonder how it happened being angry is no way to live. Allow yourself to be angry but give yourself a time limit on how long you are going to let yourself feel that way and then let it go because the longer you sit there feeling sorry for yourself the harder acceptance is going to be. Acceptance doesn’t mean you are happy about your recent news and it only means you are choosing to not let a few bad test results control your life.
Listen to motivational podcasts– For most of my life, I was that person who seemed like I had it all together but on the inside, I was the most negative person on the planet and if you think I have always been positive I had you fooled so bad. I never used to be able to see how a bad situation could have some positives because I only looked at the negatives side of things. About a year ago I decided to give positivity a try and started listening to a motivational podcast that completely changed the way I look at things so I don’t always just see the negative side of every situation. I am still frustrated when I have a medical problem because no podcast can take away your struggles but I have learned more healthy ways to deal with upsetting news and don’t get as depressed because I have learned how to let it go.
I don’t think about only the negatives- I could go on and on about how much pain I am going to have and all the negatives of my upcoming surgery but I am not going to do that because it’s not helpful to anyone. I am aware of all how much harder my life will be for the next few months and I am not going to be in denial of my struggles because that is not healthy but I am not going to focus on only the negatives. There are more negatives than positives to hip replacement surgery but you can’t honestly think you are okay if the only thing you can think about is what’s bad about it. Positivity can’t cure a medical problem but it can get you in a better place emotionally because when you are negative all the time you feel angry and will miss some of the good things about your situation. The list of positives may be so small but even in the saddest situation, you can find something that it’s as depressing. I am not looking forward to my surgery but on the plus side I do get to see my sister more often than I normally would so I can’t complain about more sister bonding time that didn’t take three months to plan!
Do something to take your mind off of it- When you get bad news from your doctor often people get very upset by it and it takes them a week to get over it because that is all they can think about. If your doctor gave you upsetting news and you can’t stop thinking about it you may need something to get our mind off of it. Whenever I first hear that I need a surgery I talk to my disabled friends a lot and I listen to hours of music because it calms my anxiety and gets my mind off the surgery for a while. Everyone has different things that bring them comfort and what helps me may not help you so find whatever relaxes you most and start doing it more!
Talk to someone who has similar struggles- The blogging world is filled with disabled people that may not be able to relate to your specific medical problem but many disabled people have had tons of surgeries or at least one major one and can relate in some way. If you are having a hard time coping reach out to someone that has been in your situation or something similar because there is something about talking to someone who gets it that is comforting. It can be online or someone you know in person because it doesn’t matter how you reach out and the most important thing is that you get the support you need. Support from someone who has experienced it is different because you can provide different insight than someone who has never been to a hospital before. Families will do their best to be supportive but at the end of the day you can’t provide the same support as someone who has experienced it has!
Have some comfort food to temporarily deal with your emotions- Comfort food is not the way to deal with all your problems and you shouldn’t use food if it takes you months to get over something or are unable to stop eating once you start but I have never been much of an emotional eater so I can eat some pizza (which I totally did) and not feel out of control. There is nothing wrong with using comfort food to deal with your emotions as long as you can quickly get yourself out of that state because if it is something that lasts for months it might not be the best idea and can be problematic. Food doesn’t make you more positive but it can temporarily give you comfort as long you don’t feel out of control when you are eating!
I am not happy about needing a surgery that I just had a year ago because I was not quite ready for round two but it’s something that happened and I can’t change it. I have constant frustrations in my life and I think I handle bad news better than most people because of that but even if you have had one-hundred surgeries it’s still doesn’t make it any easier. I will not pretend that I am totally fine with it because I am quite annoyed and even if it’s expected not to be as bad it still doesn’t make me want to do it but sometimes we have to do things we don’t like to better our health. When you get bad news from your doctor it can be frustrating especially when you need a surgery that you just had and were hoping to avoid for at least five years but to you can’t let those emotions make you unhappy. Blogging helps me deal with stress so up until my surgery, I may have more or less posts depending on my anxiety levels that day. How do you cope when your doctor gives you bad unexpected news?
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