Preparing for Surgery

I’ve always said I don’t believe in surgery. Or hospitals, actually. And that part alone pretty much eliminates surgery unless I end up having some sort of field surgery where I have to drink whisky to get numb and a guy who says he can do it because it watched a program on operations once uses that same whisky to sterilize the knives.

No new hip for me. No new knee. No shoulder repair. No pacemaker. No stents in my heart. And for sure, no open heart surgery.

I’d made the vow: I will not have surgery. 

But there I was, filling out the online form for Camp Lowell Surgery Center. Oh my god. It was right in the name! 

But after back-to-back to-back sinus infections, the last one needing two different medicines over twenty-two days, I decided I needed to have my damaged sinus area cleaned out.

Over thirty years ago, after major trauma to my face, I’d gone to the doctor and said I was suddenly having sinus infections, that the sinus area of my right cheek was chronically painful, and I knew something was wrong.

I don’t recall if it was an X-ray or what that I had, but I was pronounced fine. I knew I wasn’t, asked for more tests, and was basically told to go along, little girl.

I should have gone to another specialist, but the insurance wouldn’t pay for it and I didn’t have the money.

So thirty-two years later, I found myself facing the “S” word: Surgery. And I was filling out all the online forms. 

Previous hospitalizations. Metal in the body. Chipped teeth. Chipped teeth? Yes, chipped teeth.

Medications. Allergies. A long list of potential risk factors. Parents’ medical problems.

And then, there it was. Do you have your will in order?

My will.

What the hell kind of question was that? This “simple surgery” was coming up, and they want to know if my will was in order? 

And then this one: Would you like to sign an advance directive?

A will! An advance directive! Oh my god, they were planning to kill me in that “simple surgery”!

I then noted I could sign an advance directive the morning of the surgery. Good. Off the hook on that one for a few more days. 

But a will. Did I have one in order? Not an easy question to answer. Sure, I had a will. But it was old, and it left everything to my former husband.

That was not going to happen.

It was time to make decisions, and it was time to make them fast. My sister agreed to be executor. The biggie taken care of. Then I had to get a will form somewhere.

Just as I was beginning to stress about finding the form, my sister sent me a link to a brief article on hand-written wills. They’re legal. They’re easy. But mostly, what made me happy is they’re legal.

I wrote out a draft on my computer, fussed with it for the next twenty-four hours, and then hand wrote it. The only problem was I needed a witness to sign it.

It couldn’t be Lee because she was mentioned in the will as my tenant as was my desire to have her stay as long as was practical. 

I was thinking who I could go visit for a signature when my signator appeared at the door: Paloma Díaz.

Paloma was a Couchsurfer who was traveling in her van. I’d agreed to have her park at my house for a few days.**

Poor Paloma. We introduced ourselves and then I said, “Could you watch me signing my will and then sign it as a witness?”


In a matter of moments, I had a legal Arizona will. Signed.

Two days later I had surgery. I didn’t die, so the will wasn’t really necessary after all. However, I now have it and plan to file it away somewhere safe. 

And knowing me, I’ll pretty quickly forget where that safe place is.

** As is typical here, as of this day, Paloma’s been here nearly two weeks. ¡Que vive LadyRanch!***

***LadyRanch is my on-acre property with a guest house and was so named by Katie Poliquin. She arrived last year for two nights, stayed four months. Immediately after her arrival, Suzette appeared and stayed five months. Katie looked around one day and said, “What we have here is a LadyRanch.” We all (Katie, Suzette, Lee my tenant, and I) all loved the name and it stuck. 

Lee still lives here. Paloma landed here two weeks ago, and Katie reappeared a few days ago. LadyRanch is alive and well!

Published by Emilie

I'm a retired instructor from a community college where I taught Developmental English and Reading as well as English as a Second Language. I'm also now a published author of a bilingual children's book entitled. Luisa the Green Sea Turtle - Luisa la Tortuga Verde del Mar. It's available from me, through Amazon, and is in a few (more and more each day!) bookstores.

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  1. One thing does lead to another, doesn’t it? Here’s hoping that life settles down with no more surprises or complications.

    1. Thanks. I was delighted to know about hand written wills. It is then best to,file it with the county and tape it or a copy to your refrigerator along with DNR or advance directive.

      1. Hope I don’t walk into your kitchen and see it taped to your frig. LOL
        On a more serious note, our ideas quickly change as we age. I think of Carole, homeopath, anti-big pharma who had a “Say No to Pharmaceuticals” bumper sticker for years. Then serious cancer hit. Her three month prognosis transitioned into nine good months, only because she was able to control her own drugs/pain medications. She was adamant about the thanks to pharmaceuticals. Humbling to transition with her, right to the end. I love you, Sister.

      2. Yes. I’ve recently been reading about people who say they wouldn’t want to go on living if … whatever. Then they get to whatever, and they want to live. I never wanted to be in a wheelchair. It sounded miserable. Now it looks liberating. But because I’m me, I’m getting a mobility scooter instead. Watch out Bisbee!

  2. I’m so glad your surgery was a success! I hope you don’t have any more of that kind of surprises.
    Interesting thing about your will and the advance directive. It is always good to know more about everything.
    Have a wonderful day and say hi to your guests in LadyRanch and to your sister!

    1. Tere, thanks so much. I’m SO HAPPY with my surgery! No sinus problems now and the pain in my head from that old injury is GONE! It was my sinuses!

  3. So did the surgery work? Are you breathing easy? Are you well? This was fun to read! And you have a lady ranch! How cool is that?

    1. I’m healing well and breathing! Plus, the chronic pain I’ve had in my head for seemingly forever is GONE! I thought the pain was due to the injury I sustained but it was backed up sinuses!

    2. I can breathe!!! And the pain in my head, which for years and years and years I thought was due to my injury is GONE! Sinus pressure gone, pain gone! I am delighted!

  4. I think you need two witnesses, so get another of your friends to sign it, too. (I tried using a notary at the bank, and learned my will wasn’t legal unless it had two signatures.)

  5. Emilie Emilie! Lo lo siento, but I hope that this finds you feeling much better – and worth altering your choices! There are times when modern medicine plays a very important role in wellness, and that’s when we can be grateful for living now and not 150 years ago… Odd but yesterday I did very little because of a warning-flag headache that suggested, ‘sinus infection.’ it’s been 30 years since one hit me – and it felt like that – as if someone slammed my face with a baseball bat! you have my complete sympathy!

    I hope that the worst is behind you, and with each day you’re feeling better and better!

      1. I’m much better, thank goodness. I also forgot to mention my favorite book by John Grisham. ‘The Testament ‘ — that’s where I first learned about ‘holographic’ wills, which is what I think you also described.
        I think you’ll enjoy the book – and I sometimes point people to that when they ask what it’s like to have dengue!

  6. I try to avoid medical people as long as I can still walk and digest food. Every time I break that policy, they reinforce the need for it. I’m about to write a will, too. There are a couple of snags in the way, but I’ll get there. Want to be my witness?

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