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How To Tell People About Upcoming Surgery How To Tell People About Upcoming Surgery

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Unread 05-23-2005, 11:36 PM
How To Tell People About Upcoming Surgery


I'm scheduled for a hysterectomy in June and have only told VERY close friends and family. Somehow, I'm reluctant (afraid?) to tell my students, neighbors, and acquaintances I'm not close to. My partner thinks this is because I'm afraid of being judged , but I'm not sure if that's it. I feel this surgery is so personal, and I'm a private person in many ways, that I only want to tell those who I know really care about me and will be there to support me. It could also be because in some ways, I feel that I've failed to cure myself of the fibroids that are the cause of my suffering and subsequent decision to have this surgery. Do I need counseling, or what????

I DO need advice from other hystersisters about what to say and how much to say to people who may care, but who I don't want to know my personal business! Especially my students.

What do you all think? Thanks!!!!
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Unread 05-24-2005, 12:00 AM
(children discussed)

I don't see any reason why you should have to announce it to everyone you know if you're not comfortable with it. Some of us are more comfy talking about the details of personal stuff like this kind of surgery. I don't really mind telling other people what my deal is, although I live in a state where one is expected to have several children and I am 32 and I have no human kids. So, when I tell them that I am going to have a hysterectomy, I get this pity look and a whole discussion about why and am I sure that's the only option? So, sometimes it's just easier not to talk about it. Not because I don't think it's the right option, but because I don't have all day to ease their minds. And these are my friends and collegues. Nevermind my students. I'm taking time off from teaching to write my dissertation, but I doubt I would tell my students unless I were working with some grad students particularly closely or something. But undergrads? No way. It's none of their business.

I do worry a bit about your comment that you feel like you've failed to heal the fibroids and therefore must have the surgery. I guess I'm curious about the way in which you think you could have done something different to have healed them. I am sorry that you feel a sense of guilt about it though. I'm here if you want to say more about this. If you don't agree with your partner's dianosis, then do you have any other hypotheses?

Also, I don't think there's a right or wrong answer about how one is supposed to feel about telling other people. This is a very personal surgery and it affects each individual differently. If you only want to share this experience with those friends with whom you are very close, then try not to sweat it.

Unread 05-24-2005, 06:40 AM
How To Tell People About Upcoming Surgery

I am generally pretty open. For the most part, I have been telling people including students that I will be having surgery and if they ask what type I will tell them. I have been fairly direct with my colleagues at work. I want them to know why I won't be doing much research this summer. I have told the board and a few others in my UU congregation specifically what is happening. Two reasons for this. First, they are my primary source of support locally. Second, I am a board member and need them to cover my responsibilities for the month of June.

As for students, I am teaching an online course at the moment and debating exactly what to tell my students in that course. In the initial information about the course, I simply told them that I would be away from the computer and unreachable from the afternoon of June 1 until June 6 (my surgery is June 2). I will give them more details just before that time.

I want to tell them enough to know: that someone else will have access to the course (just in case) so that they can make informed choices about what information they share (this is a gender roles class and students often share quite personal things with me); that things I write in the couple of weeks right after sugery may not be perfectly clear and that they should ask for clarification when this is so; that they should have patience and be forgiving if I seem to lack patience myself; and give me at least 48 hours to reply to questions and a little extra time grading work.

I need to work on this message before the nervousness increases too much.

Good luck in making your decision about what/how much to share and with whom.
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Unread 05-24-2005, 07:25 AM
How To Tell People About Upcoming Surgery

I am pretty open about it... I figure why hide it and maybe I can even help someone else along the way.

Everyone at my job knows, and also DH's job. I surprised people at his when I walked in at 2 weeks post-op - and didn't look like death warmed over... mine was the same way 2 days later.

I look at it as "I had a problem, I had it fixed". No one would look at someone with heart surgery or an appendectomy and question them.

I had a monster fibroid - I tried to wait out menopause - but no such luck...

I think what to tell your students depends on their age...
Unread 05-24-2005, 09:16 AM
How To Tell People About Upcoming Surgery

I'm a very private person and felt it wasn't anybody's business but those I chose to tell. You really don't need to say anything other than that you're taking some time off. I found some people asked what I'd be doing and my response was "recharging my batteries". They usually let it drop at that. Students don't need to know why you're out. They simply need to know that you're unavailable and be given somebody to contact if necessary.
Unread 05-24-2005, 01:23 PM
How To Tell People About Upcoming Surgery

I say tell as many people as possible -- you never know who will bring you a casserole the week after your surgery!!

I started out being very private but made the mistake of leaving a neighbor this phone message: "Hi, I'm calling to RSVP for your party next week - I'm having surgery a few days before and I'm sure I won't be up to going out by then. Sorry to miss it - hope you have a great time" ......She called back in a panic - "what's wrong?? Is it cancer???" I learned not to scare people with partial information. And then once I was in the hospital a day or so, being poked & prodded around the clock, I lost all modesty & privacy!

Many of the friends, coworkers, neighbors, I told offered to pick up groceries for me, -- it was great!!

Good luck!
Unread 05-24-2005, 01:31 PM
How to tell

Everyone I work with at the university knows of my surgery and about the kind of surgery it will be. Strictly speaking, this would not have been necessary since I am off-contract for the summer as of the middle of June. They have not showed (and I have not looked for) a lot of concern... but a few have had hysterectomies, and all of that number are encouraging, telling me that I will be feeling lots better.

I have not made any sort of general announcement to my students. There are three students that I am currently working with on master's projects/publications, and to them I have mentioned my lack of person-to-person availability after "x" date owing to a surgery/the need to recover -- but have not mentioned the type of surgery. To each of these three students I have mentioned that I'd prefer they did not "spread the news." (I figure they probably won't -- they DO have to work with me on the other side, after all -- and also (well at least I hope) they have some respect for me/my privacy.

Similarly, I've mentioned "a surgery" (no details) to my dissertation advisor and to another academic mentor... this because, quite honestly, I expect to need an excuse for slow completion of work previously planned for the summer!

My hubby has offered to buy me a laptop so that I can work in bed after the surgery... what do all of you think about the realistic chances of being able to do that? I wonder, for instance, if it would be any different, or any better, or any more comfortable to sit in bed to work than it would be to sit in my [home] office to work at a computer... and I wonder how much I will really be up to working anyway... If I could hear from some of you about this, I'd appreciate it!

TAH BSO on 6/22/05
Unread 05-24-2005, 01:59 PM
How To Tell People About Upcoming Surgery


Get the laptop!!!!!!!!!!

For weeks I could only do things that I could do in my recliner chair. Sitting upright at the computer felt like I was folding myself in half and squeezing my incision area. At about three weeks I *had* to do some computer work, and I did it standing, a few minutes at a time. Around 4 weeks I discovered this message board, and would have *loved* to spend half of each lonely day on it! I saw someone posting who was only about 5 days post op, and I commented on how well she was doing, that I couldn't sit up straight enough to use a computer for weeks, and she said "I've got a laptop, hon "

I couldn't sit up straight at the dinner table either - for the first several weeks I was washing stains out of the fronts of my shirt almost every night!

With the laptop, you'll have to rig up some kind of tray? where:

1) it's not resting on your tummy
2) you aren't holding your arms up *at all*

Good luck!

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