A bird with eggs in a nest


I recently spoke on the phone to a good friend of mine who was about to have surgery. She told me that she is doing a lot of “nesting” in preparation and described some of the work she was doing around her house. While we were on the phone, she was sitting on the floor in her bathroom re-grouting her tile floor!

I started wondering how commonly patients experience nesting, defined as “the tendency to arrange one's immediate surroundings, such as a work station, to create a place where one feels secure, comfortable, or in control” when getting ready for surgery or another procedure.1

Thinking about my own pre-lobectomy to do list

I remember when I was preparing for my lobectomy, I felt a lot of self-imposed stress to get many things accomplished and off my list prior to checking into the hospital. This included doing tons of laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, and even buying new comfortable items of clothes to wear upon returning home from the hospital.

Interestingly, this is a feeling also experienced by many women during pregnancy. “You might wake up one morning feeling energetic and wanting to clean and organize your entire house. This urge to clean and organize is known as nesting. Nesting during pregnancy is the overwhelming desire to get your home ready for your new baby.”2

Organizing my home helped me destress

Despite the reason for nesting, I believe that it serves a number of purposes. Prior to my lobectomy, I was nervous about entering a situation where I would not have control and would need to rely on the skills of my surgeon and other health care providers. Organizing as much as possible beforehand gave me the opportunity to exert much-needed control over at least something in my life. I also needed a good distraction from my worries and keeping busy through nesting activities certainly filled that need. Additionally, I remember thinking that people might come by to visit once I was home from my surgery, so I wanted to have my house looking as good as possible prior to heading to the hospital.

Nesting gives us a sense of comfort

Ever wonder about what the phrase “empty nesters” really means? Well, my husband and I now fit into this category since both of our sons are off at college. Similar to how I acted prior to my surgery, I’ve spent the past month since my sons’ departures decorating and organizing things in our new condo. Again, nesting is fulfilling a need for me since it is distracting me from missing my boys and not having any control over what they are doing while they are at college!

It sounds like nesting activities can provide a lot of solace for events happening in life. I believe that to a much lesser extent, I even “nest” prior to each one of my quarterly scans.

How many of you have experienced these urges? If you have, I will just share some advice that is offered to pregnant women: “Do what you must but don’t wear yourself out. Get as much rest as possible and save your energy...Take the nesting feelings and add some delegation to your nesting efforts”!2

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