How pre-surgery visualization helped me

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guided imagery.JPGBy Jila Tanha

In July 2010, I was diagnosed with a serious disease that required three major surgeries over the course of a year-and-a-half.

Because I work in The Learning Center, you would think I would approach my own health with an "I know all that" attitude. Well, that didn't happen.

The reality of my diagnosis hit me, and anxiety took over.

I was facing three surgeries and wanted to do the right things to help my body prepare.

I wanted to heal quickly with fewer post-surgery complications.

Learning about integrative medicine
I've had many experiences where I've witnessed the power of the human mind, so natural curiosity led me to become interested in integrative medicine while working at MD Anderson.

Before my diagnosis, I had been attending educational sessions offered through the Integrative Medicine Center, and I heard from many patients about their experiences.

They spoke about acupuncture, meditation, exercise and so on, and I reached out to learn more. I was particularly  interested in the meditation techniques used to reduce stress.

Trying out visualization techniques
After receiving my diagnosis, I searched for the integrative medicine techniques that would be most beneficial for me. One day a colleague asked if I'd thought about guided imagery, also known as visualization. I'd used self-talk before during stressful times, and it had worked for me.

But I'd never used guided imagery, which is using your imagination to direct thoughts to a positive state of mind.

You visualize your positive treatment experience, before and after, through meditation and readings or audio recordings.

Right away, I started looking at the books, listening to CDs, taking notes and meditating.

In a matter of weeks, I had orchestrated my surgery by imagining a smooth healing process from start to end - and beyond.

Next, I had to tell my surgical team.

Tomorrow, I will discuss involving my medical team in visualization.

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How pre-surgery visualization helped me

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