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Thursday, June 13, 2013

On pins and (hopefully no more) needles: The post-surgical examination.

In a few hours I will return to NYU Hospital to have a litany of tests done: the running on a treadmill to stress my cardiovascular system one, the "try-to-make-me-faint" one where they strap me into a table and then turn it vertically for up to 11 minutes or until I collapse, the creepy ultra-sound where I look at my heart like a baby in my belly, and of course the standard EKGs. The tests themselves are mildly annoying but not scary in and of themselves like a root canal or a bikini wax. The results however, are not as finite as either of those two cringe-worthy procedures unfortunately. 

What I am feeling right now is known as "future anxiety" or F.E.A.R. I hate acronyms, but this one - Future Events Appearing Real- actually helps me accept and deal with my emotions in a logical way. I am experiencing some symptoms that I think should be gone by now (running out of breath while having a conversation, extreme fatigue, etc.) and those symptoms are very real. The assumption that these symptoms mean that my surgery was a failure or that I have some other serious problem that the doctors haven't discovered yet however, is NOT REAL. I do think I'm mildly psychic but since I'm not actually able to predict the future, I am basically just afraid of my own imagination. An imaginary future in which things are bad.

We do this all the time and call it "psyching ourselves out" which is a funny term. It's like playing evil psychiatrist to ourselves. Making a big meeting or test or speech into something bigger and scarier than it is can literally debilitate us. We won't stand a chance when the challenge actually presents itself because we've already scared ourselves shitless. Scared ourselves into ineffectuality. It's also not healthy to deny our fears. We must allow ourselves to be vulnerable and confront the root cause of our worries and anxieties in order to gain control over them. Admitting you have a problem (needless worrying) is the first step to being cured...

Being afraid of the future is a natural human instinct and is very hard to prevent. It's slightly easier however, to catch ourselves mid psych-out-cycle and nip it in the bud. I have no idea what the doctor is going to tell me today and so I have nothing to be afraid of. In other words, the only thing I have to fear is F.E.A.R. itself. 

“Don't give in to your fears. If you do, you won't be able to talk to your heart.” 
― Paulo CoelhoThe Alchemist