The Night Before

The Voyage of Life: Childhood, 1842, Thomas Cole

The Voyage of Life: Childhood, 1842, Thomas Cole

I don't know where to start. I sat in front of my computer for 30 minutes thinking about my life so far, reading my past writings about how GERD has affected my life. It's really defined my entire life for the past 3 years. My entire life in the US was controlled by this disease, all of my actions and decisions had to go through it. So it's scary, yet exciting to think about how it will change from here. I see my past life ending tonight, and a new life beginning tomorrow.

I got curious and started reading the wikipedia pages on GERD and hiatal hernia. I used to read a lot of reddit posts in the beginning, but I'm not going to do that anymore because of the 90-9-1 rule. It only adds fuel to the fire. I wasn't feeling any negative emotions as of yet but reading it conjured some amounts of anxiety.

Quality of life is improved in the short term compared to medical therapy, but there is uncertainty in the benefits of surgery versus long-term medical management with proton pump inhibitors

I was informed by my surgeon that this surgery has an 80% effectiveness rate for a 5-10 years life span. but because I have some "wiring" issues as well, as he puts it crudely, that 80% might go down. So a lot of uncertainty does arise in light of this information. How much will this really cure me? What does <80% look like in my day-to-day? I know there's no going back to being normal again, no restart button or revive at the checkpoint; life just doesn't work that way, our cells are constantly dying and regenerating, but at a rate that progressively declines over time. But I do expect this surgery to free me in ways I used to be, if not why am I even doing it? Well, he did say that if I continue to take medication, and since I'm southeast asian, I'm more prone to stomach cancer. So, there's that.

I feel like I've been living with this disease for so long now (3.1 years) that I've accumulated a lot of learned helplessness. I've also gotten very used to the symptoms that I'm numb to them. I feel the pain, but I'm not bothered by it as much anymore. So there's a pessimist in me that believes life will not get better. But I recently learned about the power of the expectation effect, about how our beliefs have the power to heal; we can cure the body with the mind. So I have to actively reject cynicism and believe I will be cured. Tomorrow, I will be repeating that in my head.

I am afraid of this surgery. I think part of the fear comes from this permanent change to my body, a change that I cannot see with my eyes. It feels like a violation of my body. It's also a matter of trust and vulnerability. I have to fully trust the people involved my operation to make zero mistakes, and perform at their best. I'm asleep and if anything happens, I'll never know. I can't imagine how it feels to go through more major surgeries.

It's also me seeking for control and certainty, I create unnecessary anxiety by thinking past the 5-10 years timeline, when I don't even know what will happen next month, next week, and even tomorrow. I spent so much of my life planning out my entire future, setting these goals and expectations for myself, and I think I have to learn how to live day by day.

I have to talk about faith. Growing up in a church, my faith and belief significantly shaped the person I am today. My core values revolve around my faith. I never realized how shaky my faith was after getting GERD. I didn't know how to accept the fact that God would put this on me, even though he only puts as much suffering as we can bear in our lives, I had a lot of doubts, and I withdrew from God, I barely attended church in 2022. 2023 was the year my faith started to revive again. I'm eternally grateful for the people at the chinese church. Today, I still struggle with putting God in the center of my life, I don't read the bible and some nights I forget to pray, so I still have a lot of work to do.

To end this on a good note, I am incredibly grateful for my friends and family. My dad who's funding all the myriads of hospital visits and operations that summed up the past two months of my disorganized and blurry life. My mom who's been caring for me physically and mentally. My sisters who are always there to cheer me up and check up on me. And the friends who brings fun and laughter into my life, who's there to listen to my messy and chaotic thoughts, who reminds me of the good times in the past, and who helps me look forward to the future.

Better days are coming. The next chapter of my life starts tomorrow.





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