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Monday, November 2, 2015

Upcoming Surgery and Contamination Concerns

     So, last week I found out I need to have surgery.  It is an outpatient procedure, but this will be the first time I have ever been under general anesthesia.  And it will be done in the hospital.  I am very nervous about the whole process, and of course the added component of OCD really complicates things.  I've actually had several doctors visits in the past few months, and doctors offices are one of the more "contaminated places" for me.  So, I've resorted to wearing my "contaminated outfit" for these appointments, but at least I'm able to give them one wash through a sanitary setting, and hang it back in my closet until the next time.  This surgery is really going to push me.  I've actually told myself several times that if I could just go in and have this done and not compulse in anyway, maybe that would knock out a serious portion of my OCD.  I joke around saying it, but it's partly true.  I will have to face many things during this surgery, that are high up on my hierarchy.  But it's important for me to have the surgery done, and I realize this.  So, I must just go with it and see how it goes.
     These are my OCD concerns:  hospital gown (yuck, yuck, yuck), hospital sheets, hospital pillow, dirty bedrails, having to potentially eat off hospital silverware/dishes, still feeling groggy when I get home to where I can't shower right away, the fact that when you're under general anesthesia you don't have a clue what is going on, people in the operating room touching me, feeling uneasy about the surgical equipment being sanitary enough, needing to take oral antibiotics (this is a trigger for me too, as I've always been scared to take new medication since I had panic attacks 10 years ago which were one of the first defining symptoms of my development of OCD).  Just for a little background on the antibiotic concern, I found out I had some potential food allergies in 2005.  One afternoon when I was driving to work I had a panic attack.  Didn't realize it at the time, as I'd never had one before.  I initially thought I was having an anaphylactic reaction to something that I ate.  After that time I began to get very scared about what I was eating, and I started avoiding common food allergens, including a lot of medications.  I am terrified of having an anaphylactic reaction to something, be it food or medication.  I've gotten back to the point where I can eat most foods (other than I avoid nuts as I did test positive to those), but I have not taken any antibiotics during this whole time.  But I have to take them now.
     The surgery is planned for a couple of weeks from now.  I am honestly planning on taking my own food and drink to the hospital.  A few bottled waters in my purse, along with some baggies of crackers.  I know they just want to make sure you can eat without getting sick before they send you home.  I just don't think I can eat hospital food.  But that is another scary thing.  When I'm still feeling the effects of anesthesia, I know I won't really know what I'm doing.  I will probably likely do things, that I normally wouldn't do.  My OCD might go to rest during this time, and that scares me.  The recovery nurse may hand me a cup of water and a straw (how do I know her hands were clean and if they touched the straw), and I may likely take a drink at that given time, because my OCD won't be telling me not to.  And then I won't know what I did, and I can't shake that feeling.
     When I get back to my actual room, where my mom and my daughter will be waiting for me, I have given instructions to my daughter to take notes for me on what is going on.  Such as, did I take a drink of water from a hospital glass?  Did I touch the bed rail and then touch my finger to my face?
     To add to this, I also have to take my car in to a mechanic shop next week, to have tires put on and have them aligned.  Hospitals and mechanic grease.  Two of my biggest yuck-factors.  This was supposed to be done last summer, but I kept putting it off.  I do have a plan in place for this, which I won't get into detail with, but my biggest concern is the seatbelt.  I found out during a trial run for preparing for this appointment last week, that it is possible to wash a seatbelt.  Of course I have no way of asking the mechanic if he drove my car.  My OCD tells me to check the odometer when I drop it off, and if its just a couple tenths of of a mile up then he probably just pulled it in and out of the garage.  But if there is definitely new mileage on there, they may have driven it afterward.  I don't know.  Maybe I will just sit there in the shop waiting room and watch.  But the seatbelt is my concern.  I am worried that if I feel its contaminated enough after a mechanic has sat there and had his dirty/greasy clothes up against it, how will I feel comfortable wearing the seatbelt again?  I tried to buy seatbelt covers, but there obviously isn't anything to cover the entire thing (chest and lap belts).  So, I will wash it, and I guess I will have no choice but to wear it again.
     For a quick update on the rest of the OCD front, I am doing okay.  Becoming more comfortable with being contaminated.  There have been times out in public where I have ran into an acquaintance, and they gave me a hug, or there was the time that a woman (that I didn't even know) at the grocery store put her hand on my sweatshirt while she was telling me to go ahead of her in line.  Things like that throw me off, and I have to wash those clothes separately.  But I am so happy that I am no longer throwing things away anymore because of that.  And I'm actually finding out that they don't bother me as much as they used to (it still bugs me, but I don't fixate on it like I did in the past).
    If anyone has any friendly advice or tips on how to deal with the surgery or the mechanic, I would greatly appreciate it.  I will post an update later this week after the mechanic (that is the lesser of my worries though), and a little longer update on how I've been doing in general.    


  1. I am going to ask you to please not allow your daughter to keep notes on what might happen in the hospital. You have come a long ways and have been working on ERP to free yourself from the extreme bondage you have been living in. This is completely unfair to her. Involving others in our OCD rituals is crossing the line and is truly harmful to both us and the person we love. It would be feeding your OCD and enabling you and making your OCD stronger in the long run. As for her, this is not her job. Do you want her to grow up remembering these kinds of things and then having to process them in therapy herself? This is not to be critical, but I beg you, PLEASE don't do this. You can do this on your own and be proud of yourself and not involve your daughter. It will be so much healthier for all. God bless, Carol

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    1. I'm so hopeful that you got through the surgery successfully and also didn't involve your daughter in your rituals. Here is what you wrote almost a year ago about this.

      Earlier this week, I called my daughter in sick to school, because I didn't feel comfortable and wanted to make sure he wasn't "contaminating" anything around the house--touching anything I didn't want him to. She hung around upstairs so she could tell me if he was touching anything. It makes me feel like a horrible parent to write and read that sentence right now. I realize I'm involving my daughter in my compulsions. I'm relying on her for reassurance, to "make sure that nothing happens".

      I truly believe you can do this without involving her and I hope you did! You are making so much progress! I forget, are you on meds? I'm thinking not. How did the procedure go for you? I'm sure it was hard.


      Sorry this accidentally came through as another family member, not me

    2. Hi Carol, I actually haven't had the surgery yet, its scheduled on Nov 19th. That is interesting to read my comment from above. Sometimes I go back, too, and read things from a year ago to mark my progress. It seems I"ve made progress in a lot of areas, but the ones with my husband are so tough. I just don't get anywhere. I"m glad to hear that you believe in me. Sometimes it feels so lonely with this illness and the fact that there is a complete stranger to me that takes the time to write me on my blog and encourage me really truly is helpful, and I so appreciate that. I get more support on this blog than I have ever received from my husband in regard to this disorder. I am not on meds for this, never have been. How about your history? You've written me several times. Do you have OCD and if so, how recovered are that from you? Just helps to know the history of those I'm talking to!

  3. Yes, I had severe OCD, thought I was the worst person in the world, anyone else must have had a less disabling case than I did. I did ERP in spurts, and have reclaimed my life. I am 99% free now, and of course, the monster never really moves out so occasionally he puts on a new mask and bugs me. I feel so strongly about helping others out of the hell that I lived through that I went back to school at an advanced age and got my Masters in Counseling/Psychology and am in private practice specializing in treatment for OCD. More than 90% of my clients suffer from OCD, all manifestations, contamination, checking, emotional contamination, harm, sexual, scrupe, tormenting thoughts, you name it. I am privileged every day to see others act courageously and conquer their fears when they think that they can't. I have led many support groups and volunteer for our area support group, which is the largest peer led support group in the nation. Here's my website in case you would like to check it out. Carol

  4. Hey Carol! Sorry it has gotten me so long to get back to you. I am glad to know about your history with this disorder. Definitely encouraging that someone who was in the deep dark depths of OCD, can now be a therapist and a light for others in their struggle. I've always been interested in going back and becoming an OCD therapist myself. Unfortunately, I've learned there are not a whole lot of providers that specialize in OCD, so that is awesome that you are doing that now! Really awesome! I've always said I could lead someone out of these OCD woods, I feel like I know all the right things I SHOULD be doing...but doing them on your own can be tough! Nevertheless, that is how I feel comfortable approaching it at this time. I did check out your website too. Thanks so much for giving that to me, it helps to associate a name with a face too and see other people that have struggled with this. I did have my surgery done and actually just completed a post on how all that went, so I hope you will check it out!

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  7. I take a little ziplock bag with water, soap and bleach and use that solution to wipe down the entire seat belt, steering wheel, shifter, seat, door handle.