Friday, December 19, 2008

The Surgery - Part 10. Dr. Shrink

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9

Now, It's not like I hadn't seen a pshycologist or a counselor before. But this time it was going to be different. This I felt was less about an emotional issue and more about fear and anxiety. Which I guess is emotional too, but it just had a different feel to me. I knew that finding the right person to help me was key, so I started to do some research into some psychologists in the area.

I was lucky to find a doc in my hospital system that had experience in anxiety, panic disorder, and pseudoseizures. Fantastic! So I emailed the man and asked if he thought he could help me with my medical fears and fear of vomiting. He said he had experience with medical anxiety but not vomit phobia, but he would ask his collegues and if he thought anyone else might be better suited to help me he could refer me to them. It turned out that all of his collegues had seen at least one case of vomit phobia, and recommended approaching it with me the same way this guy had thought he would in the first place.

I liked that this guy had taken the time to email with me a few times to see if he was the best person to help me, and also had already thought of a possible treatment plan. I asked if I could see him, and noted that my surgery was soming up soon so that we might need to hurry this up a bit. He emailed his secretary, and cc'ed me, telling her to call me and squeeze me in somewhere. She called the next day and two days later I was in his office.

I was his last patient of the day, and he started by taking my history and any important info pertaining to my anxiety. I figured that he would cut me off at the hour mark, but before I knew it I had been there for two and a half hours! It was crazy! I had my phone turned off and Craig had been frantically trying to call me, since I should have been home over an hour ago. We wrapped up the session and I made appointments to see him twice more before the surgery.

Craig was really upset when I finally called him, and rightly so. I felt really bad since I never meant to scare him so badly. I would have been just as upset if the situation was reversed. I promised that next time I would make sure I kept an eye on the time and would call or text if I was running late. But I seriously never expected this guy to take almost three hours on our first session.

Our next session we worked on what I feared most about the surgery. It all boiled down to me getting there and getting the IV. After that I knew they would give me happy drugs to relax me (yay for Versed!) so I just needed to get through the IV and then I think I'll be okay. Dr. Shrink wanted to use a therapy called EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Basically what he asked me to do was think about the upsetting situation - getting the IV - and I would have to follow his hand with my eyes as he slowly moved them back and forth in front of me. His hand was about 14 inches from my face and I was to keep my head still.

So we started this therapy and just thinking about getting the IV made me very nervous. He stopped after about 30 seconds or so, and asked me what I was feeling. I was still anxious, so he started again. We continued this stopping and starting, with me giving my physical and emotional feelings between sessions, until at the end I could not make myself get upset about getting the IV.

It was so weird! I asked him why it worked, and he explained that they don't know why for sure, but it's suspected that the brain has it's own mechanisms to heal itself. Anxiety and avoidance that heighten fear are not good things for the brain to feel, so by following his finger with my eyes I was stimulating both sides of my brain. Also my having me think about the traumatic thought I was bascially flooding my brain with anxiety in a safe environment. Eventually my brain realized that the fear was irrational, and stopped reacting to it. Dr Shrink also said that EMDR therapy is excellent for people who have had traumas such as rape or abuse, and usually they take several sessions to make progress. Since mine was a relatively simple issue without many layers to get through, one office session was all it took. Simply amazing.

I don't know if this new found bravery about the IV will hold when it comes right downt to it. But I sure hope so.

The surgery is next Tuesday. I have caught a cold and am fighting off bronchitis at the moment. However I am on antibiotics so that I can get well enough to get this thing over with. Which is what I want. I am tired of stressing about it and although I know the aftermath will be painful, at least it will be over and I can heal up.


Amy said...

I've been thinking of getting EMDR therapy for my fear of falling off (had a bad fall a few years ago and it's been affecting my riding ever since) but never heard of anyone who had done it. I'm so glad it worked for you! That's really encouraging and I think I'll try it myself (well, after I finish paying for my horse's hoof surgery.... :-). I hope your surgery goes smoothly and that you recover quickly.

Katie said...

Wow that is an amazing treatment. Do you think it would work with riding fears or such? Like people who are scared of jumping or something?

Dressage Mom said...

Amy and Katie,

I absolutely think that someone experienced in EMDR could help with horse related fears. I guess the real proof of the staying power of the treatment is going to be on Tuesday and if I can get the IV and survive the surgery without freaking out.

Katee said...

Good luck on Tuesday. I hope that you are able to be calm and relaxed and not anxious at all.

May the surgery go smoothly and the recovery go quickly!

Rising Rainbow said...

Good luck with your surgery. I will be thinking of you. When I had mine done, I didn't even feel the IV. It was in and I hadn't even noticed....not even a little prick. It was cool.

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