Under The Knife c. 2003 Susun
The Sixth Step of Healing -- break and enter -- is one we mostly
hope to avoid. But even those who prefer herbal medicine and natural
healing may find themselves needing -- or wanting -- invasive procedures,
including surgery, when faced with serious illness.
Doctors and nurses, hospital staff and operating room personal are
well aware of the dangers of surgery, but few lay people are. It is
tempting to hand one's self over to the experts. It seems they should
know what they are doing. And isn't it too complicated for most of
us to understand? Not really. Doctors have to know many things. You
only have to learn about one: your problem, your surgery.
Before surgery of any kind, protect yourself by asking questions.
Interview the surgeon who will do the actual surgery. If you do not
feel comfortable with the surgeon, for any reason or even for no reason,
find another one.
Interview the anesthesiologist. Your life will be in this person's
hands. Discuss the specific drugs you will be getting, including post-operative
Take a hard look at the hospital where the surgery will be done.
What is its local reputation? How frequently is this type of surgery
done at this hospital?
Find out specifically what will be done during the surgery. Keep
asking questions, or reading, or searching the internet, until you
understand exactly what you are having done.
Ask for a copy of the consent form and read it before you get to
the hospital. Change anything you disagree with.
Ask your most psychic friends to be your guardians during and after
Also, check out the pages of advice in my book Breast
Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way -- from playing
music in surgery to taking supplemental zinc --for those choosing
Use all six of my Steps of Healing to insure the least harm from
A few surgery nightmares -- not to frighten but to caution us to
Anne was told fat from her belly could be used to create a breast
after her mastectomy. She discussed this with many doctors. Only after
the surgery did she discover that her belly muscles had been cut from
her public bone, rolled up, and inserted into her chest to create
the "breast." When I met her, several years after the surgery,
she was still in agony from muscle spasms in the 'breast," and
still mourning the loss of her ability to sit up from a lying position.
Pat was told she would be awake for her surgery, but the surgeon
decided to try a new procedure and sedated her heavily. She died several
days later, without regaining consciousness.
Sally's sonogram showed a suspicious mass near her ovary. The doctor
suspected cancer and urged her to have a surgical biopsy. When she
awoke after the surgery, he was grinning at her. "Good news!
You didn't have cancer!" Her joy quickly faded as he continued:
"We took your uterus and ovaries out anyhow, so you won't have
to worry in the future." She had no idea the consent form she'd
signed allowed the surgeon to remove her organs at his discretion.
Modern surgery can perform miracles.
A friend whose skin cancer over ran her face was restored to normal
looks by deft and amazing skin grafts and surgical sleight of hand
(her chin became her cheek, her ear turned into her nose.
My mother's lung cancer was found early and snipped away, never to
More than one of my friends now enjoys dinner thanks to having had
her gall bladder surgically removed.
With care and forethought, we can journey under the knife and return
from our "brush with death" to enjoy many more years of
In loving memory of Peggy Goddard