by Professor Lynn Basford
Arm One: Having A Positive Attitude
Facing a hysterectomy is a daunting and frightening experience. Even in the knowledge that this is the best possible outcome for you, possibly after years of suffering from numerous debilitating symptoms such as; heavy and prolonged bleeding, pain and discomfort, stress incontinence, and so on.
The list can be extremely long covering a multitude of bodily systems – the reproductory, urinary, bowel, hormonal, circulatory systems, notwithstanding the impact on your emotional and psychological state of mind.
Overtime such an assault on your body may have rendered you low in energy and unable to think with exuberant positivity. The issue is that you will have forgotten what it feels like to be ‘normal’.
This does not negate the fact that you will have a plethora of questions, doubts and uncertainties. These will be made worse by people around you who will catastrophize their own or others’ hysterectomy experiences, further adding to your worry. Others, often meaning well, may share their experience from an historical perspective not realising that surgical techniques and interventions have moved on a long way in the last two decades.
Because this is an elective procedure (non emergency), you have the chance to prepare. Research studies have all concurred that focused preparation is essential to reduce the impact of surgery, reduce post operative complications, reduce pain and discomfort and speed up the recovery and restoration phase.
One key element is having a Positive Attitude. A Positive Attitude from perhaps 50-60,000 thoughts you may have per day, thats a lot of thoughts, so make them count! Remember You and You alone are responsible for having a positive attitude. It is your choice, but do read on to see the benefits before making up your mind to be positive or negative about your forthcoming surgery…
Benefits of A Positive Attitude
Having a positive attitude works on every level, physical, emotional and psychological. Positive thinkers develop better coping strategies, manage stress and pain more effectively, and are more resilient and in control of their lives.
On a more subtle level having a positive attitude improves your immune system*, fosters less depression and promotes overall health and well being. In short, having a positive attitude promotes the ultimate feel good factor; a foundation for health and positive ageing.
Talk to Centenarians (long- livers) and they will have overcome many of live’s adversities, outlived friends and family members, overcome disease, wars and perhaps famine, but they all have a common theme and that is they have a positive outlook on life.
Pointers to Encourage a Positive Attitude
If you know that you are prone to see your glass half empty instead of half full it is a strong indication that your thoughts will be negative. Even a slight shift towards a positive nature will have an impact, so it is really worth doing, not only for the impending surgery, but as a life time change.
You may say: “Well it’s alright for you, but how do I begin to make changes?”
To start with we are all different so these are only intended as guidelines, you may find your own way, a secret door that you will cherish. For others you might like to consider the following:
1. Focus on your thought patterns and analyse if they are negative or positive. Sometimes we go into automative negative thought patterns, so by being conscious of what we are thinking is a major way of enabling you to shift your focus from negative to positive. Once you have recognised your pattern you are in a position to challenge them and replace with a positive thought pattern. this may seem very strange at first but if you do this for 21 days your positive attitude will become the norm.
2. Recognise those people around you who are negative. If possible, remove yourself from their negative energy. If you cannot remove yourself, then counter any negativism with a positive statement. For example, find the good in events, people and things around you, all of the time. Find at least one thing you like about every person you meet and every place you go, make a list of 5 simple things that you are thankful for every day, recognise challenging situations and people as opportunities rather than as setbacks, tell yourself that the future is filled with possibilities and the potential for good things. Finally, tell yourself that having the operation will enable you to have a full and healthy life.
3. Keep a diary to record your thought patterns relating to the surgery or indeed any issue you may be overly concerned about. By recording your daily thoughts, you can actually see a pattern develop right before you that shows a string of positive or negative thoughts. For example, instead of writing verbatim you can make a list of the five most prevalent negative thoughts and positive thoughts you had that day, and take time to analyze them.
4. Take time each day to have 30 minutes ME TIME. To recharge your batteries and focus on your personal needs
5. Create a circle of support. Ask your family and friends to be supportive during your time of need. If you believe in the power of collective prayer then form a prayer circle for your behalf. ( some research suggests the power of prayer has a positive effect).
6. Talk to your consultant regarding playing a CD of positive therapeutic suggestions while you are in Theatre. At the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow, Scotland, women undergoing abdominal hysterectomy who listened to a tape of positive therapeutic suggestions under anaesthesia required 24% less pain medication the day after surgery than patients who listened to a blank tape.
*Stephanie Pappas (2010), Optimism boosts Immune System; March 25, 2010