Thursday. I sleep in a bit but am still tired in the morning. I’m probably too old to work until 2am. I go in to the office late and meet with the proposal-writing team. Again, the director doesn’t show up for the daily check-in meeting. In the last two weeks, he’s shown up once. We go over sections that are going to need attention, while we wait until tomorrow for feedback from our two first readers.

Since it’s the first day I’m not writing all day, I schedule meetings to check in with colleagues on other projects. Everyone comments on not having seen me much recently. I feel missed by my favorite colleagues.

It’s not enough, though, to quiet down the anxiety that has been building. I go hide in a room and meditate for a few moments. I try to create a sense of space and breathe into it.

Later, thought, I keep thinking about the surgery. I make a list of all the things that worry me about it. Then I address each worry, suggesting a strategy if there is one I can use.

Something going wrong during the surgery. This is out of my hands. The doctor is experienced. Odds are in my favor.

Having strangers poke and prod and examine me in very personal places. Write a letter ahead of time asking doctors and nurses to tell me before doing anything and to be very mindful of respect and privacy.

The sense of powerlessness and/or humiliation. Create a mental image of safety and well-being. Call that up when things get hard. Also, remind doctors and nurses about the letter in my file.

Not being able to set and maintain reasonable boundaries when I’m in pain or drugged.
Ask my husband to remind staff about my letter, if I am not able to do this.

Being intubated scares me and I hate the idea of a tube, or anything, pushed down my throat. This is out of my hands as well. It’s just part of the process. I won’t be awake for very long with the tube in my throat.

Five new scars on my abdomen.It will be okay. I’ve had a c-section scar for years, and it hasn’t mattered. New bathing suit after recovery.

My body will be less attractive to my husband.Seriously, don’t worry about this. My husband won’t mind. He has a big scar from his heart surgery, and that doesn’t change anything about my feelings for him. Don’t give in to sexist ideas about the skin and body of a woman being an essential part of her worth.

Pain after the surgery. Meditation. Rest. Oxycodone.

The bladder test the day after surgery, similar to what upset me so much in October. Have it all explained in detail beforehand. Ask nurse to be very mindful of respect and privacy.

Having to go home and keep the catheter over the weekend. Don’t plan for any visitors over the weekend. Remind myself it’s only three days. Meditate. Make ugly angry art about it. (Anyway, it might not happen.)

After all of this, the problem won’t be fixed or won’t stay fixed. This is out of my hands. Odds are in my favor.

What will happen to my feet/calves if I can’t do stretches? Check with the doctor about the yoga/stretching ban, and see if any of my physical therapy exercises can continue.

People at work getting too used to me being gone. Repeat this message to myself: It’s not as long as my last leave. I might be able to work from home after a couple of weeks. My contributions are good enough that they won’t be forgotten over a few weeks.

What it will be like to have intercourse again after healing. We’ll find out when we get to that part. My husband will agree to any pace that works for me.

Is it really the right decision to have the hysterectomy? I already made this decision. There are good reasons I made it and those reasons haven’t changed. It doesn’t help to revisit the decision now. I can trust myself to have made the best decision I could with the information I had available to me.

I’ve got the self-talk and planning ahead stuff down. I need to do these things. But none of it touches the feelings.

I’m at the stage of therapy where I need to discover my feelings. I need to find out what they are, name them, and let myself feel them. I need to go beyond rational coping strategies. There’s a storm inside, and I don’t know what it is and I don’t know how to let it out.

Since I don’t know what to do with the storm, I want to harm myself.

I also want to connect to E., but I don’t know what to say to her. What am I asking for? Maybe I’m just attention-seeking? No, wait (lots of mental self-correction needed today), she said I can keep asking. I text her a flower and write “tag.” She answers with something a four-leaf clover. A few hours later, I send her a picture of a sun. She replies, I’m loving it. More tomorrow.

Right away, my littlest self feels hurt. I thought she was there for me. But she’s telling me to wait until tomorrow. It’s early. She doesn’t want to text me. My adult self knows this is unreasonable, but my adult self is used up writing the grant proposal.

Clearly I am too tired. I work on the proposal for a while and go to bed early.

Thursday 2