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5 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Major Surgery



Fear of Major Surgery

As humans, we are afraid of the unknown; therefore, it is only natural for most people to fear undergoing major surgery. Wouldn't you tremble to know you had to have open-heart surgery, brain surgery, or a leg amputated?

When I learned on March 31, 2015, that I had to have a kidney removed, I, too, was scared. What if I had a heart attack or stroke during the operation? Suppose I never woke up from the anesthesia given to me. I guess that is the reason I finalized my last will during the week before the operation.

Based on my experience of undergoing kidney surgery, I suggest five ways of overcoming the fear of major surgery in this article. Simply put, they are knowledge, trust, laughter, optimism, and support from loved ones.

1. Educate Yourself on the Reality of the Surgery

Most people fear surgery because they don't understand what will happen after going into the operating room. There is a saying that knowledge is power, and this knowledge of understanding what will happen to you during surgery will lessen or overcome your fear.

It is smart to try to learn and understand as much as possible about your upcoming surgery. This can be done by reading books and/or Internet articles as well as viewing Youtube videos about the specific surgery you will have. You can also learn about your scheduled operation by talking or corresponding with people who have had the same operation.

After I was diagnosed with a kidney tumor and knew that I needed the removal of a kidney, I told my second oldest sister who is a vet. Fortunately, she had a friend who also had his kidney removed in 2013. Pat put me in touch with her friend, Steve, who answered all of my questions about the kidney operation he had had. Steve's answers and recollections of the operation made my upcoming surgery sound not as bad as I thought it would be. I was especially encouraged by Steve's comments that he was able to walk on the same day of his operation and leave the hospital after a three-day stay.

2. Have Trust in God and People

Almost everyone is afraid of the unknown after death, and that is the primary reason for belief in God and religion. Having trust in God is very comforting, and it gives you hope for life after death.

Trust in God is also very comforting for anyone who will undergo a serious operation. Trust in God accompanied by prayers to Him is also reassuring that an upcoming surgery will be smooth and successful.

Having faith and trust in the knowledge and skills of medical people such as cardiologists, surgeons, and anesthesiologists who will be involved in an operation is also essential for allaying our fear. Without trust in medical people, surgery would be much more frightening.


3. Don't Be So Serious

It is only natural for patients to feel serious about their illnesses and upcoming operations. Laughter, however, is the best medicine and it definitely will make you relax and feel better when facing surgery. Before my kidney operation, the anesthesiologist told me a really funny joke in the pre-operating room before surgery that made me laugh and take my mind off of the imminent operation.

4. Be Optimistic

It is extremely important to be optimistic before surgery. By knowing the surgery you will undergo and having faith and trust in medical people, you will be much more optimistic about the results of your surgery. I focused on the successful results of my sister's friend's kidney operation which made me feel positive about my operation. I also recalled pulling through other surgeries where I was under anesthesia. This also gave me an optimistic feeling going into the operation.

This is a photo of me with my wife.

This is a photo of me with my wife.

5. Seek Support From Loved Ones

Finally, it is essential to have support and reassurance from loved ones and friends before and during surgery. Before my kidney operation, many friends and relatives expressed concern and said they would pray for me so everything would turn out alright. This was reassuring and gave me the power to overcome the fear of surgery. It was also comforting to have my wife with me until the time I went into a pre-operating room one hour before my operation.

Wishing You the Best!

If you are scheduled for major surgery, try not to be afraid. A famous U.S. president once said that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Educating yourself about specific surgeries and having trust in God and your medical personnel will go a long way in lessening or removing your fear. Finally, make sure you are not too serious, be optimistic, and have the support of friends and loved ones.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Paul Richard Kuehn


Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on June 23, 2015:

Yes, it is important to know as much as possible about your sickness, operation, and other plans of treatment. With this knowledge your fears will be lessened or removed.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on June 23, 2015:

I agree, when I first had my gallbladder surgery, I was afraid that I might just kick the bucket too. Knowledge of the surgery is important.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on May 16, 2015:

&torrilynn I'm happy you found my tips on overcoming fear of surgery useful. When I was younger, I especially hated dental surgery and I guess that's the main reason I ended up having to have most of my teeth pulled when I was only 47.

torrilynn on May 16, 2015:

My biggest fear is getting any type of surgery, whether it's big or small. thanks for the tips on overcoming surgery. Best of wishes.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on May 15, 2015:

Thanks for sharing your experience. I am confident that prayers do help when you are faced with any danger. It's great that you liked this hub and found it good.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on May 15, 2015:

Hi Larry! Most people are terrified about going under the knife. Fortunately, with the anesthesia that is used today you will not be able to remember what happened during the operation. I still have nightmares about my first operation at age 6 when I was given ether during an acute appendectomy. I'm glad you found this hub helpful.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on May 15, 2015:

Hi Bill! It's great to ready your comments again, It's great that you liked this hub and found it useful. How true it is that the older we get the more likely we will have medical problems. I am sure you will be able to face any needed surgeries as calmly and intelligently as me.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on May 15, 2015:

Thanks for your good evaluation of this hub and I'm very happy you liked it and found it useful. I also appreciate you voting up this article.

garnetbird on May 15, 2015:

In 1994 I had a radical hystetectomy.I was on a prayer chain which gave me some peace. Good hub.

Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on May 15, 2015:

I am terrified of going under the knife. Very helpful article.

Bill Russo from Cape Cod on May 15, 2015:

Hi Paul,

I am sorry to read that you had this surgery, and not surprised that you came up with such a strong and reasoned approach to it. I hope you are feeling well and kudos for creating this work. At our age it is not a question of if we are going to have a medical problem, but when. I hope I will be able to face my future surgeries as calmly and intelligently as you did.


Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on May 15, 2015:

Great hub and a very important one!

I had undergone gallbladder stones surgery some 20 years back. Family support and reassurance is very important. Prayers can keep you strong plus awareness and education about the surgery is a must.

A very thoughtful hub, with important tips for those who have to undergo surgical procedures in near future.

Thanks for sharing, voted up as useful!

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