The Dalai Lama once said, “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” Such a simple and yet profound explanation of worry. I know this. I believe this. I’ve tried to live much of my life knowing worrying is useless and won’t get me anywhere. Lately, I’ve found myself reading this quote, and a few others about worry, over and over and yet I’m struggling, really struggling to push worry aside.
After first getting Nora’s diagnoses over a year ago, I did a great job of pushing worry aside and focusing on what was right in front of me and what I could control. But in the last month or so, since her case has changed, I can’t seem to push worry aside. Not even a little bit. My days and nights are constantly filled with worry, fear, wonder and doubts and so many unanswered questions…questions that simply do not have answers. Constantly.
We meet with Nora’s surgeon yesterday again to talk more in-depth about our options. I was truly hoping that we would leave that appointment and things would suddenly become clearer, that there would be an obvious path to take. But there wasn’t. Her doctor said it best, “When you have several surgery options it’s because none of them are really that great. There is no perfect solution.” It’s a freakin’ complex matrix. It’s not a simple pro’s and con’s to each surgery, there are too many factors that play into it. But the worst part of it all, is there are so many unknowns, questions that don’t have answers. Eventually, hopefully a year or two from now, we will have to pick something. How do you pick a surgery when you don’t have all the answers? When they all have risks I simply don’t want to think about.
I’ve spent hours and hours digging and finding all sorts of research and studies. I keep searching as if I think I’m going to find the perfect solution out there. In my subconscious I think I’m going to somehow discover something none of the experts have ever thought of. As if I’m now some orthopedic spine genius sent down from God himself. Yes, it’s crazy. I know that. But what it’s really called is denial. DENIAL. I know I’m in denial… still. I can rationally understand that but I’m not ready to move on to full acceptance.
None of us know what the future holds for ourselves or our children but we all imagine it and have a basic story line in our heads. Worry has driven me to think of what my daughter’s real future will be like. What will her life be like as a teen and into adulthood living with this? A big percentage of spinal surgeries using rods, screws and fusions have complications 15 -20 years down the road. At least that’s what studies show from those who had those surgeries 20-30 years ago. Some of the complications are, all things considered, minor but many are not. I’m inundated with stories I read daily of adults who are suffering now. We are talking on living on disability, continually use of pain medications, a limited lifestyle, etc. The surgery options we have now do not have any long term studies because they just haven’t been doing them long enough. But that’s what I worry about so much these days. The unknowns. Things out of my control anyway. I worry for her future in a way I never thought I’d worry. I worry we will choose the wrong surgery. I worry later in life she will live in pain. I worry about her psyche, her self esteem, not being able to do all that she wants to do. I can’t push those worries aside no matter how hard I try these days.
And so I will close with another quote that spurred this blog entry
“Never worry alone. When anxiety grabs the mind, it is self-perpetuating. Worrisome thoughts reproduce faster than rabbits, so one of the most powerful ways to stop the spiral of worry is simply to disclose your worry to a friend… The simple act of reassurance from another human being becomes a tool of the Spirit to cast out fear — because peace and fear are both contagious.”