Published On: Fri, Jun 1st, 2018

Preparing Yourself Mentally for Surgery

When you’re about to go under the knife, you don’t always feel at your most courageous. Surgery is, quite understandably, a nerve-wracking experience for many. From the risks of complications that it can pose to the simple fact of being out of action for a few days or even longer, there are plenty of reasons why it’s not at all common to look forward to meeting with a surgeon. But in order to enjoy a good quality of life in the run up to the surgery and to make sure you don’t tire yourself out worrying too much, preparing yourself psychologically in advance of the big day is vital. Here are some top tips on how to ensure that your pre-surgery preparations can incorporate a mental health element to them as well as a physical one.

photo/ Sasin Tipchai

Speak to the physicians

There’s nothing quite as powerful as knowledge when it comes to overcoming anxiety, and by speaking to those who are involved in your healthcare, you can arm yourself with information to help reduce your worries. If you are worried about safety during the operation, why not ask your physician or other healthcare professional to let you see the room in which the procedure will take place and find out what health and hygiene measures the staff will take? Or if you’re concerned about how long it will take to get back on your feet afterwards, your nurses may be able to give you some materials with information about exactly what the recovery process will be like and help put your worries to rest.

Educate yourself about medication

One common worry about surgery lies in thinking about the aftermath. Depending on the type of surgery, recovering can be a painful slog. Luckily, the development of new types of post-surgical painkillers means that managing pain is now getting easier and easier. The EXPAREL analgesic developed by Erol Onel and the team at the firm Pacira is a low-opioid alternative to many painkillers. Studies have shown that it delivered a 13.6% drop in pain levels after certain types of surgery, so with options like this available, there is hope for those who worry about the impact pain might have on them.

Distract yourself

Everyone has an activity they love to do, and those who are going in for surgery are no exception. If you’re a voracious reader, for example, now might well be the time to get drawn into an amazing book for distraction purposes. Or if you enjoy watching films, why not invest in some new DVDs or check out a service like Netflix? Often, people dismiss these sorts of ideas as ones that won’t work for them, but once you get engrossed in a good film, book or something else altogether, you will quickly forget all about your worries.

Ensure you have support

Nobody should go through a stressful experience like surgery alone, and that means it’s vital to build up a support network around you. You may want to talk to family and friends about your worries, or you may actually just want to speak to them about other topics in order to take your mind off the surgery. There are no pre-set rules as to who should comprise your support network either. Whoever you know you can trust and who would be willing to make the trip to see you wherever you are will make a great candidate. And if you don’t have a ready-made support network available, speak to the staff in your clinic or hospital, as they may be able to put you in touch with a professional who can provide a shoulder to cry on if you’re feeling anxious.

Be brave

Although these methods of preparing yourself are useful, sometimes during a stressful situation like this one, you may just have to steel yourself and be courageous in order to get through it. By changing your mindset from one of worry to one of acceptance, you’ll be able to come to terms with the fact that your surgery is inevitable and that there’s nothing you can do to change that.

Surgery is a tough experience, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of if you’re worried about how it’s going to affect you. But the good news is that there are plenty of steps you can take in order to feel better and reduce your worrying. Whether it’s building a strong support network all around you or simply accepting that there’s nothing you can do other than go through with it, there are lots of ways you build your mental defenses and steel yourself for the big day.

Author: Glen Star

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