View Full Version : Fear Of Surgery

05-02-2004, 12:43 AM
Can anyone give advice on how to conquire the fear of surgery?

I'm thinking about it every second...and the unknown is frightening.:confused:

05-02-2004, 02:01 PM
First, find a doctor that you trust. Just knowing that he/she is well-regarded is not enough - you have to feel truly comfortable with the doctor and the staff.

Second - Knowledge is Power - read, research, ask questions. Reduce the unknown by replacing it with the known.

Third - Faith - Visualize yourself in as much detail as you can as you will be after your successful surgery.

05-02-2004, 07:38 PM
That sounds like the words of wisdom

thanks......I'm just afraid of the pain.....

05-03-2004, 06:02 PM

I couldnít agree more that finding a doctor you trust is key. It sounds as though youíve done that. I received a great piece of advice from a friend (an orthopedic surgeon): if something is wrong with your car (and you know nothing about fixing cars), you take your car to a mechanic. To a certain extent you can educate yourself about what the mechanic will do, but there comes a point that you have to trust the expertise of the mechanic. While that might not be a comforting analogy if youíve had bad experiences getting your car fixed, I hope you appreciate my point: you are going to a well-respected expert; there must come a point that you put yourself in his hands. (Note that although I did not get opinions from Drs. Neuwirth and Boachie, both came highly recommended. I did, however, have a consultation with Dr. Farcy.)

Which brings me to my next point: I second the notion that knowledge is power. No doubt. Educate yourself, read the books, etc. But I temper that advice by saying donít drive yourself crazy. I saw your earlier post saying you were nervous about the things you were finding about complications. As I said above, there needs to come a point that you trust your surgeon. (Full disclosure: I had complications after my first surgery and needed a revision surgeryóI went back to the same surgeon. I trust him completely.)

As for the pain, I cannot tell a lie: it hurts. A lot. But your pain will be managed in the hospital and you will manage it once you are discharged. Every day you will feel a little better, and soon you will feel like yourself--only new and improved. It seems pretty awful at the time, but you will get through it.

My stats: Iím 32 years old; fused from T-4 to T-12.


05-05-2004, 07:11 PM
Take pain one breathe at a time. You can handle anything for the span of one breathe. Deep breathing excercises help relax you which helps pain. It also helps fear. Try to find a way to meditate. Just getting your mind to relax can be a very helpful thing!

03-04-2007, 09:12 PM
I really do understand how you are felling. I am faceing surgery this April I have a double curve 35 degrees at the top and 77 degrees at the bottom. I am 50 years old and this is my first surgery. I have as well problems with a cervical disk that cause me migrains. So I am concerned that the migrains may be more frequent from the maniplulation. I will be having fusions from T5 all the way to my pelvis as well. I think the pain is also my biggest fear. So I also would like any information or stories of experiences with any of these surgeries, any one has and would be open to share.................linda :confused:

03-05-2007, 02:13 AM
Hi. I agree with paula sue that knowledge is power, however I drove myself crazy researching the surgery every chance I got. My surgeon was trying to tell me to just relax and that everyone had different experiences. I knew way too much and wish I had listened to him. I was asking questions about things totally left of centre. By all means, be educated, but try your hardest not to examine every little complication that could ever happen. It definately adds to the fear complex. I saw a shrink in the 6 months leading up to the surgery. It was so much better opening up to a stranger than to family who wanted reassurance that i was fine and coping with the fear of waiting.
Take care and above all else, remember that you are naturally going to be scared.I also took St Johns Wort to help with the anxiety but you might want to consult your surgeon if your on other meds as it might interfere. All the best.

Karen Ocker
03-05-2007, 04:32 PM
I was more afraid of dying slowly from scoliosis with progressive pain and deformity than the surgery. I also did not want to be an increasing burden on anyone else. It was only getting worse.

My suggestion is to research your surgeon and talk to patients with a similar history that he/she operated on.

03-07-2007, 09:18 AM

I ABSOLUTELY agree that finding a surgeon that you trust is the most important thing. I went to see a few surgeons before I chose the one who did my surgery. I felt SO comfortable with him, and it made all the difference in the world.
Having fear is completely normal. You just have to have faith in your doctor and God - everything will be ok!
Try doing things to take your mind off of it... My surgery was Jan 3rd, so it was great, because the holidays really occupied my mind. I have a tendency to over think things until I make myself crazy! And it's so easy to do.
Think positive! Fill your head with positive thoughts... it's the best medicine :)
Good luck... and think happy thoughts!


03-07-2007, 01:03 PM
"Fear is fear of something" Martin Heidegger. This usually difficult to understand philosopher was being very technical to distinguish fear from anxiety, but this statement is a useful thinking tool.

So what are the fears and what can you do about them? Make a list and work on each, if possible. Some things you just have to accept, there is no mitigation.

Here are my candidates for mitigations:

Get second opinions.

Understand the relative gravity of your condition.

Select the best doctor you can find.

Investigate until you understand why the proposed operation is appropriate for your condition.

Get an anesthesiologist who is very experienced with your operation.

Consider getting a pain specialist you trust before the operation. We had to fire a horrible one and then found an angel of caring and skill. Pain, pre and post op, is highly differentiated in scoliosis.

Nursing is a problem and at best spotty, perhaps everywhere. You need to have a lot of visitors and consider a private nurse, especially overnight. Neglect when you are helpless is a horrible experience.

Be realistic about activity and work. Get alot of books and set up a TV on the wall where you can watch it from bed (like the hospital).

Be realistic about money. Dig into your retirement fund or house equity if necessary. Consider who will manage the payments, insurance and bills. Talk money with doctors, all of them and especially out of network doctors, before the operation.

Take good stock of your relationships and do everything possible to strengthen them.

Karen Ocker
03-07-2007, 03:19 PM
Those are very practical, proactive suggestions. I did hire a private duty nurse for most of the 2 weeks I was in hospital. I made sure the doc wrote the order and my Ins paid. I was an older patient and it was a 2 stage revision. Even if you cannot affort RNs or PNs having a certified nurses aide is also an option.
Since patients in hospital are generally quite sick, unless one is in the ICU or step-down units, nurses are stretched too thin to give enough attention.

03-07-2007, 04:26 PM

How did you find your private duty nurse? WAs she affiliated with HSS?

Karen Ocker
03-07-2007, 04:56 PM
At HSS there is a patient information booklet given out before admission with such info as visiting hours etc. I think the number of the private duty registry was there, otherwise you can get that info from the nursing office. Most hospitals I know of have registries they use to supply RNs, PNs, and nurses aides.

03-08-2007, 10:33 AM
You may want to get a private duty nurse, but incase for some reason you can't, I just wanted to ease your nerves a little bit... I had surgery at HSS in early January, and I can't say enough about the nursing staff! They took care of me wonderfully... And although I was told I was a good patient (didn't complain much, etc), I thought I was pretty much a pain in the ass!! I was calling them all night long for everything and they really were great. So, don't worry too much about that. I was very happy with the amount of attention I got and how they took care of me there.

03-08-2007, 12:00 PM
Hi Connie,

I read you had fusion from T4 TO L3 back in June 2004. Was your pain not managed well then? I got the impression you had not had surgery the first time I read this post because of all the advice to research your up coming surgery. I assume you are going to have your lower vertabre added to your fusion? I'm not clear on what you are facing. I thought I would address the pain issue for you and hopefully ease your mind.

I keep reading how so many people are saying how much pain they were in post op. I don't understand this because I did not experience it. My Dr. was adamant about making sure I was not in a lot of pain because he said you can't heal as well when you are in pain. I was on Norco, (Hydrocodone) Valium and Tylex all at the same time as well as the Fentanyl patch. I had a log next to the bed to keep track of the times I needed and took my meds. (I actually saved it and just looked it over.) I took something every few hours. I wore the patches 24/7. (They are a transdermal system you change every 3 days.) They are wonderful for pain control but for some reason I have noticed not many people are prescribed them. I was in touch with someone who was having a lot of pain after surgery. I suggested they ask their Dr. for this and when they got on it their pain subsided. Every Dr. and patient is different. You need to tell your Dr. of your fear of pain. He should be willing to do everything to keep you as comfortable as possible. Ask him if he is willing to switch around different pain meds to find what works for you. Or does he have a standard regimen? I hope this helps you to know it can be managed. And NO, I do not have a high tolerance for pain AT ALL!

03-08-2007, 01:37 PM
That's really good to know. :)