Little Paint Speck

By Hillary Asbury

Around Thanksgiving I had to had surgery and I was wildly anxious.

I had known for about a month that surgery was probably going to be my only treatment option, but when I went in for my surgical consult on a Wednesday and they told me to come back for surgery on Monday, I panicked.

I’m a worrier.

I try to keep a handle on my anxiety but it seems to get the best of me every time. I pray. I remind myself to put my trust in God. I have tricks I use to shift my thinking, calming breathing exercises, strategies for combatting stress-related insomnia. I’ve been battling my anxiety for a long time, I have the tools and I use them. They Often help. Sometimes, though, nothing seems to make a difference.

As I prepped for my appointment, there was only one thing that brought me any comfort.

I was given instructions to clean everything the day before surgery: my room, my bedding, any clothes I would wear before and after the procedure. I was told to shower right before bed the night before and had been given anti-bacterial wipes to disinfect my entire body. As I scrubbed myself clean that night, I had to work pretty hard to get all the paint off of my hands, arms, and from under my nails. Try as I might, when I was done there was still a little speck of turquoise paint that wouldn’t budge from the corner of one of my nails.

In the hours leading up to the surgery I was very on-edge.

My surgery was scheduled for early afternoon, but my doctor’s morning operation ran late. I was forced to wait around for hours in pre-op and my anxiety just continued to build. At one point, though, I looked down at my hands and I had to smile. I saw that stubborn little spot of paint on my nail and was instantly comforted. It gave me something to hold on to, something that reminded me of who I was. It reminded me that I was uniquely created with purpose- loved by my God. It was something I could take with me into the operating room, something I could look for when I woke up from anesthesia.

And I did.

I woke up and groggily looked for that little speck of paint, just to remind myself that I was okay, that God had seen me through it, and that everything was going to be just fine.