What Action Can You Take When You’re Not In Control of the Situation?

a group of people walking down a sidewalk.

We’re on hour 4 1/2 of my husband’s 2 hour pre-planned surgery. He’s having a rib removed due to recurring blood clots. 

The surgery is running 2 1/2 hours late and I’m not sure why. There’s a reason it’s running late, I just don’t know what it is. And I can’t get to the people who do know.

I’m not a surgeon or a nurse, and I don’t have any pull at this hospital. I can’t control the situation, but I can control how I think about the situation. 

Hang on a second. I’m in control of my mind. My mind isn’t like a self-driving car; I’m the boss of me. I got this.

We’ve known this surgery has been coming for some time. It’s still anxiety-provoking. To prepare for the surgery, we intentionally chose to spend as much time as possible  laughing. Laughter is good for you, according to the Mayo ClinicForbes and Martha

Can rib removal be funny? Sure, if you turn it into an Adam and Eve rib joke. We ate ribs for Sunday dinner, thanks to Mighty Quinn. We showed the kids pig ribs and cow ribs and we all thought it was hilarious. 

Next we invited Adam SandlerJim Gaffigan and a pregnant Amy Schumer over and boy were we glad we did. These folks had us crying with laughter. Anxiety couldn’t even find a standing-room-only spot. 

In the pre-op we joked with the nurses and doctors, keeping spirits high. I frequently employ a Freudian slip, referring to the hospital our “hotel”, because we’ve visited frequently enough (and have paid enough) that we’ve started to reframe our visits as a couples getaway. Yep, we are the kind of people that have fun in a hospital room (narcotics help).

And despite my intentional humor practice, in hour 4 of my husband’s 2-hour surgery my anxiety has shown up to play. She will do exactly nothing helpful for me. As the saying goes, “Worry is interest paid on a debt you may not owe.”

Sit with that one for a second. Want to shell out a couple hundred dollars for a maybe debt? Of course not. So why worry about a problem you don’t have?

Worry does nothing for me. It does nothing for you. It prepares us both for a problem we’re not likely to have. Waste of time, energy and resources. It’s a wrong ingredient in the recipe of life.

I know this. Which is why I decided to write to you and make myself laugh a bit instead of perseverating on things beyond my control.

Can you relate? Do you perseverate? Shift your fate; it’s not too late!

OK, gotta go — doctor’s calling.


PS: Want to know what took so long? My husband’s ribs are too thick. Too strong, too vital. They had a hell of a time “chewing” (no joke, that’s the word the surgeon used) that little rib off. That’s the whole story. No mistake, no nicked artery (which is where my brain went), no drama It’s the right problem to have in a hospital; my husband’s bones are too strong, something we’ll laugh about in years to come. Worry: 0, Laughter: 1

PPS: I’m going to space these emails out a bit, every other week from here on out. I want to these notes to be something you look forward to, not clutter in the inbox. Catch up with me on social media if you want to be in more frequent contact. I look forward to it!

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