At 10 Months Post-Op, Judy Comes To The Edge

We’ve talked about “It” before…

It invades our brains before surgery. It clouds our thoughts during recovery. It manifests worry.

“It” is fear. Or, as I have suggested before F.E.A.R. – an acronym for Fantasized Experiences Appearing Real.

The funny thing about F.E.A.R., in relation to heart surgery, is that most people incorrectly assume that patient fear culminates and terminates on the operating table. As I, or most patients will share with you, that is completely inaccurate.

For most patients, fear reemerges during the recovery as the patient reanimates their life to match the memory of their own, pre-operative existence. I remember this all too well – as I relearned how to walk, sleep, drive, run, swim, golf and work after my own, heart valve replacement surgery.

I am reminded of this fact when I receive emails and phone calls from patients that are several months (or even years) into their recovery and are still battling F.E.A.R.

For example, Judy just wrote to me, “Adam – It is ten months since my surgery. I am writing you because we are planning a trip to Europe. I feel fine and I received permission from the surgeon and cardiologist. Yet, I have all these misgivings about going to Europe after surgery. I worry!!! Can you give me any comforting thoughts? Thanks a million! Judy.”

In reading Judy’s email, I could completely relate to the fear of long-distance flying after heart surgery. Then, I remembered a poem that was quoted to me two decades ago by one of my mentors. I was 17 years old when I first heard this poem, but it has stuck with me ever since.

“Come to the edge,” he said.
“We are afraid,” they said.
“Come to the edge,” he said.
They came to the edge.
He pushed.
They flew.

This is my virtual push to Judy and all the patients reading this. It is time to fly. 🙂

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.

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  • jerry

    I had never heard that poem before, and um, well, it gave me chills. Thanks!

    Here’s the wacki wacki wiki page on its author. Guillaume Apollinaire

  • Laura

    Whoa! I’m still pre-op, trying to learn as much as I can, but I have family is across the country and will probably be worrying like Judy if all goes well with my surgery. As for F.E.A.R, I odn’t know. That poem is inspiring, but it also could end “and they died!”…

  • To Jerry,

    Thanks… I didn’t know there was an identified author of that poem. For over 20 years now I believed the poem was anonmymously written.

    To Laura,

    Yes. It’s a good thing Guillaume Apollinaire was an optimist. 🙂

    Keep on tickin!

    Adam

  • Laura

    Hi again. I clicked the link and followed it to this, in Wikipedia: “Misattributed:
    Come to the edge.
    We might fall.
    Come to the edge.
    It’s too high!
    COME TO THE EDGE!
    And they came
    And he pushed
    And they flew.
    Christopher Logue’s poem “Come to the Edge” from New Numbers (London: Cape, 1969) pp. 65-66. It was originally written for a poster advertising an Apollinaire exhibition at the ICA in 1961 or 1962, and was titled “Apollinaire Said”; hence it is often misattributed to Apollinaire (Source: Quote…Unquote Newsletter, July 1995, p. 2). ”

    Hope we all can fly!
    Laura

  • mercyturan

    To all, heart valve replacement club members, their families and support teams:

    We all fly, or we try, until we can’t anymore! There’s only one eternal thing, and it’s not “flying”. Everything else is only temporary. We are fooling ourselves to think that because we are having delicate surgery we are the only ones at risk. Life is but a “blink”, a “breath”. And there are no guarantees on how long that blink or breath will be for ANY of us, surgery or not. Therefore: be kind, be joyful, be loving, be giving, be helpful, be hopeful, be full of grace every day of your “temporary” gift of earthly life.

    There’s more to it if you want to believe that. In the meantime, enjoy the “dress rehearsal” and consider yourselves special—- you’ve had a second chance.
    Lovingly to all, Mercy, mother of John Turan (Ross procedure Mar 5,2008).

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