Don't take surgery lying down

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You say you blew out your knee downhill skiing? Ripped your shoulder lifting weights? Crushed your ankle running into a hole?

Sports can lead to injuries, and injuries can sometimes lead to surgery. Bummer. Surgery is painful, invasive and risky, but sometimes, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, surgery is the only answer. The question is: Can you prepare for surgery in a way that reduces your anxiety, eases your pain and helps you heal better and faster?

Peggy Huddleston says yes, and if you ever face surgery (or know someone who is), I highly recommend either taking one of her workshops or getting a copy of her excellent book, "Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster: A Guide of Mind-Body Techniques." (Angel River Press, Cambridge, Mass.)

Huddleston, a pioneer in mind-body medicine, takes you from pitiful to powerful in just a few easy steps, and when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, that feeling of self-empowerment is the key to success.

So how does it work? Here's a highly simplified version of Huddleston's five steps to prepare for surgery, just to give you a taste:

1. Calm your preoperative jitters guided by a relaxation tape. Feeling peaceful strengthens your immune system and creates the complex biochemistry that enhances healing.

2. Visualize your recovery by turning worries into healing imagery.

3. Surround yourself with the love of family and friends to feel calm before surgery.

4. "Healing statements," which are spoken during surgery, can reduce the need for pain medication by 23 to 50 percent.

5. Establish supportive doctor-patient relationships.

If you want to read more, you can do the book thing or check out her Web site at www.healfaster.com. And if you wind up using Huddleston's techniques to help prepare yourself for surgery, be sure to e-mail me (at mp22@aol.com) so I can share your experience with others who are probably thinking, hey, wait a minute, if this stuff works, why don't more of the 35 million Americans who face surgery every year know about it?

Good question.

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