Kate explains the fears she felt before undergoing a spinal fusion.
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I had a lot of fears leading up to my procedure. What I worried about first, of course, was work-related issues. Because I’m a psychologist I have a lot of responsibility in terms of patient care and making sure that my patients would be covered for the amount of time I’d need to be out of work. But in addition to that, I was also concerned about the individuals I supervise and them coming on board while I was out. So one of the things I was really grateful about was being able to get an appointment earlier, you know, right away pretty much for the surgery so I would have enough time to heal before my new intern class came in. But I was worried about being able to be there to help orient them to the clinic and getting them started in their training because I am one of the few people up at that particular clinic that could do that, and so I put a lot of pressure on myself, of course. But I was certainly worried about the work aspect and, am I going to get fired for taking off too much time, which I have to say that the VA was amazing in letting me take the time I needed to recover, very supportive and understanding you need to take care of yourself before you can take care of other people, which I think a lot of people overlook in terms of their own care. So what I tell my own patients, I think I needed to take to heart and do myself. So I was anxious about that, but I knew I needed to just do it. In terms of the surgery itself, I was pretty scared about the procedure. They were going into my spine, so I would have frequent thoughts about how that could go wrong, and I think I was probably catastrophizing a little bit, not having all of the information. I am certainly not a medical doctor. I don’t know exactly what they do in there as much as Dr. Raiszadeh explained to me. I don’t know how far and how deep into the spinal cord they might get. So I was worried about that. And one of the things that they had mentioned before the surgery was, I might, if as they were clearing out in between the discs, if something was nicked or whatever, then I might wake up on my stomach in order for that to heal, and I don’t remember the reasoning, but I remember that was a huge fear going into the surgery. Am I going to wake up on my stomach, or I am going to wake up on my back?” And just really having that worry about which side I am going to wake up on, and then what am I going to do because I think that there was a longer recovery period if I had to wake up on my stomach. I don’t remember what the damage might have been, but that did not happen. I woke up on my back, so it was fine. But that was certainly a huge concern. I had my family come out. My parents came out and stayed for about a week, and they would have stayed longer, but I wanted to try to do it on my own, of course. But they were very supportive, and they helped kind of alleviate some of those fears by, you know, they were there the whole time. I did, I mean, certainly had fears of something going wrong and not being able to walk, and you know, kind of the typical, you know, the way that your brain just kind of goes when you are worrying about stuff. The worst thing is going to happen. The worst didn’t happen, though.