Facing Your Fears

Every one of us faces fears at some level and at several points throughout our lives. It may be asking for a raise at work. It might be the fear of moving somewhere new. It could be buying your first home. Or it could be being diagnosed with something that rattles you.

When I had my shoulder surgeries I wasn’t that worried. I’m not sure if it was because they were joint surgeries or if it was due to all of the pain medications that I was on. I'm going to go with the latter. However, when it came to my brain surgery and then going on chemo I had deep seated fears.

The 35 minute drive to the hospital on the morning of my brain surgery there wasn’t a word spoken in the car. The fear was palpable. As I sat on the hospital bed in the pre-op area waiting to meet with my neurosurgeon my heart was racing with fear. I was scared that I may never wake up again. And when I woke up with every machine possible coming out of me including one coming out of my head, I feared that life would never be the same, even though I was happy that I came out on the other side of the surgery.

When I was being released from the hospital I was told that I may have issues with my speech and motor skills for a period of a few days to potentially a few months. Everyone reacted differently from the surgery. Fortunately for me I had no issues with my speech and my motor skills only gave me minor issues for the first few days.

Two months after my brain surgery I had another seizure. It was following that seizure that the decision was made to start chemo. While I had mentally prepared myself knowing that I was healthy and fit, that first night of chemo I stared down at the pills for a few minutes. My neuro-oncologist had explained that it was a low dose of chemo but staring at those pills on that first night I feared what would happen to my body next.

First and foremost, I had to realize that I was working with among the top doctors in the country. I was and am fortunate that UCSF is rated as one of the top 5 neuro hospitals in the country and the #1 hospital in California. 

Though I was scared, I pushed those fears aside so that I could be strong for those around me. They needed that and I knew that if I exhibited fear that it would only make things worse.

You can do the same in your daily life. Be strong for those around you. Help alleviate their fears. When needed talk through the fears to help them know it will be ok.

Alternatively you can try talking about other topics and not the fear itself. For example, when I was in pre-op for my brain surgery I made jokes with my neurosurgeon and did other things to try lightening the mood.

Each situation will dictate how you respond to the fear and manage to it. However, know that you can and will get through it no matter how scared you may be.