By Ashlyn Pinter
On February 27, 2014 I was rolled into the operating room, I.V. in arm and heart beating out of my chest. It was the day that I faced my biggest challenge and greatest fear. I never expected that I would have to go under at the age of 19, 2 months before my 20th birthday.
Growing up I’d always had a fear of being put under with anesthesia. My grandfather’s sister and mother had both died of an anesthetic death. To this day my grandfather wears his medical alert bracelet because of that very reason.
I was on the highest dosage of heart medications for almost two years. I switched from cardiologist to cardiologist even traveling to other cities and nothing seemed to be fixing but only masking the problem. The first day that I met my current cardiologist I was scheduling my surgery. I was to have a cardiac ablation and it would mean facing my biggest fear and overcoming the greatest obstacle I’d have to face thus far in my life. It was set for only 3 months from that day.
A cardiac ablation is a procedure that can correct heart rhythm problems by using long, flexible tubes inserted through a vein in your groin and threaded to your heart to correct structural problems in your heart that cause an arrhythmia.
I knew that I had to be strong in front of my family. So at the end of every week for those 3 months I sat down and wrote my fears about the upcoming surgery. I read it over to myself and I threw it away. For myself that was a way to take all of the fears and show them that I was able to surpass them. After I threw away the paper I would write a new list of the positives that would come of facing this fear. I kept every single page of positives and I still have them to this day in my childhood home.
The weeks flew by and although I was scared, I was feeling stronger and I knew I could walk into the hospital without breaking down in tears. The day came and as I was being rolled away into the room all I could think about was how when I woke up I wouldn’t have to be on medication anymore. I could be a teenager again and not live in fear of my heart giving out on me.
I woke up three hours later to find my family surrounding me in my room. I smiled and I was so happy to have faced my fear. I grew immensely from the experience and I would do it all over again if I had to.
When facing your fears no one expects you to suddenly become OK with them and no one expects you to not be scared. You can get comfortable with facing your fears by simply expressing how you feel in your own way whether it be writing it, telling someone, or running off the thoughts.
Facing your fears means growth and stepping out of the comfort of the norm. Once you have faced one fear there are endless opportunities and new doors that open. Take comfort in knowing that everyone has fears. Take comfort in knowing that anything that scares you will pay off in the end. You don’t have to get comfortable with your fears today or even this week, but take small steps toward conquering what scares you most.