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What are you fears about Surgery?

I would guess that about 70% of the people that register here are having questions regarding treatments , specifically about surgery. All surgeries, involve an 'unnatural' act on our bodies. Our bodies were not set up to having someone cut into bodies and removing or adding something. No matter how 'non-invasive' a procedure may be, its still a violation to our bodies.

Ok, now, we realize that surgery is our ONLY option. Now what? We are not always prepared those words coming from our doctors. We always hoped that some less aggressive treatment would mend us. Isnt there a pill to take care of everything?
How about one Injection, cant that fix it all?

We wish it could. But when it is clear that the only option to help you down the road is surgery, we must get prepared.
  • But how does one prepare for surgery?
  • And what do we need to do to get ready?
  • So you are ready and prepared, got everything in order, but arent you still scared?
What are you fears? Everyone has them. I can not think of anyone going into a surgery, or any kind that is not afraid of something.

For myself, I remember with my first cervical surgery, I was so scared that something might happen or go wrong and that I would wind up a quadriplegic. I kept those fears inside and never told a person about them until after the surgery. I remember so clearly when, I was in the recovery room and the nurse spoke to me, the first thing I did, was to check that I could move my fingers and move my toes. I did! And to me that was perfect, didnt care so much about what they did with my neck.

We all have our fears. I dont there is anyone out there that is so stoic that they can march in to surgery without giving it a second thought.

I would like to hear your thoughts. And I know there are thousand of members out there that have surgery on their horizon, and would love to hear from all of you about this.
Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com


  • gaj399ggaj399 Posts: 270
    edited 12/02/2012 - 5:09 PM
    and the surgeries add up. It seems after each surgery I end up worse in the end, but you need the surgery to keep your functions and hopefully to continue to be able to walk. So I guess my worst fear is that the next surgery might be the one that puts me in a wheelchair for the rest of my life, counting on someone else to do so much for me, and wondering if that someone will be there. I'm lucky right now to have a wonderful familly and friends who have helped me out, but what if in years to come they are not still there? In a nutshell that's my biggest worry.
  • My fear is similar to Gary's post, I'm afraid that will end up using my walker permanently. I am only 32. Right now it's in the closet, but I know I will need it again once I have my next surgery. I also have another fear. I guess I get it from my profession as a respiratory therapist. I am afraid I will wake up on a ventilator. I worry about that the most before I have a surgery. I am not really scared of the procedure or the pain. I have a great deal of trust in my doctor.

    Discectomies 05/08 and 04/11, fusions L4-5 Feb 9,2012 and L3-L4 June 28,2012, Staph infection washout 3/2/2012, Bulged L5-S1. SCS trial on January 17th, 2014, which was a success! Permanent SCS on February 20th.
  • Actually, as I approached my surgery date my greatest fear was the possibility that I would not be able to continue as the primary financial provider for my family. In fact, had my sister and 88 year old mother not driven 300 miles to be present during the procedure I probably would have cancelled the event. Goes to show just how powerful peer pressure can be!

    Secondary to that was my concern that I would no longer be able to strap on a pair of running shoes and head down the road, just like Forrest Gump. As it turned out, I temporarily pined over the loss of that ability and came to the realization that Forrest Gump was only a fictional character. I am real.

  • I think we all share the one where we wake up and can't walk and are in wheelchair the rest of my life. I have done short spurts in one when I had my knee surgery and wanted to go out somewhere and I hated it. I am very independant and that is my second fear...that I will lose my independance. The thought of someone having to bathe me and clean after restroom for rest of my life would be horrible. I did it for my mom in her last days of battling cancer and it was an honor for me to do all I could for her but she hated it and now I understand. Nothing is worse for me to have to ask for help and they act like it is an inconvience:(

  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 12/04/2012 - 2:46 AM

    But how does one prepare for surgery?
    And what do we need to do to get ready?
    So you are ready and prepared, got everything in order, but arent you still scared?

    I put off having spinal surgery for a long time after medical staff were telling me that they thought I was going to have to have it. There was no way that I could possibly face it! Then, as the pain got worse, and my life got more and more restricted, I agreed to just go and talk to the surgeon. He told me that I couldn't put off surgery any longer or I would risk being in a wheelchair and eventually incontinent. He also said that where as then I could lie down to get rid of my pain, the time would come when that didn't make any difference. There was my answer. I had to find the strength to face the fusion surgery.
    I prayed!
    I also came and researched what the surgery involved. For me, not to know and understand what was going to be done was more scary than knowing. My imagination could make things far worse than they actually would be. I didn't watch any video of the actual surgery, but I did watch animated videos.

    To get ready, I read the post of Useful Items List on this site. That gave me an idea of what I would need. I asked lots of questions on the threads here. I purchased some useful items, made lists and talked to my husband about how I was likely to be after surgery and the help I hoped he would give me. I prepared the house by putting things I would need to use at an easily reachable level. All of this prepared me mentally for what I was to face. I was ready for my lumbar fusion with decompression to be very hard and long. The reality was not as bad as I had feared, which was a great way to be.

    I think my worst fear was that I would be worse off than before surgery. I personally have a faith, and found that prayer and just placing myself in God's hands was very helpful. I did this again for my recent neck fusion and again I got amazing peace before the surgery that all would be ok. I am 4 weeks into my recovery from a 2 level ACDF and yet again feel that my recovery is going well and has not been as bad as I had feared.

  • While I haven't even seen a surgeon yet, (even though, i probably should) my biggest fear is not being able to go back to work right away. And i mean literally right away. My income is it for my family and i absolutely cannot afford to be off work. AND mentally i can't afford to be off work. I remember after my gall-bladder removal, the doc made me stay the night (23 hours to be exact) in the hospital when i wanted to get home right after waking up so i could go to work the next day. It totally drove me nuts. I'm a major workaholic. I have no clue what I'm going when my time comes.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,832
    will take some time to recovery. I think it is totally unrealistic if anyone could even being to say you could get back to work, 24, 48, 72, 96 or more hours.
    Recovering from spinal surgery takes it time and it should and YOU have to make sure YOU do EVERYTHING that your surgeon tells you to do.

    Too many make the mistake of returning to whatever they do too soon. When anyone does that, they are setting themselves up for bigger down towns.

    You mentioned you are a workaholic. Glad to see people that love their jobs. But if you were to return to soon, before you were really ready, not in your own mind, you could cause new and bigger problems.

    So, perhaps, staying out of work 2-5 weeks, if you rush it, cause more problems, you may then be looking at 10-15 weeks or much longer before returning.

    When to make that decision? Before it happens or after its too late.

    Dont rush what can not be rushed.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I am having such fear and anxiety about this surgery compared to my previous two. Most people dont understand because my fear involves my dad. See when my dad was only 42, back in 1989, he died during open heart surgery. He never made it off the table. I realize I am not having open heart surgery but being 39, my greatest fear is just not ever waking back up. It scares me so much that it brings me to tears thinki g about my two young girls not having their mom. I know its not rational but I cant help it and its causing g me to have nightmares almost every night. I am an otherwise healthy 39 woman so technically there shouldnt be any cause for concern.
    My surgery is Jan7th and I am having a three level fusion (L3-S1). So this is approaching fast which is raising my anxiety. I have tried praying and have asked those around me to pray for me as well. I know I will get thru the pain and everything once I wake up and realize that I made it through!
    Am I the only one who fears not living through it?

  • Lisa:

    Your fear is well-founded. Anyone who undergoes general anesthesia for several hours duration is at risk. However, that risk is magnified dependent upon the type of surgery and the condition of the patient. Heart surgery is significantly risky; spinal surgery is not as risky other than collateral damage to nerves.

    My recommendation is that you share your concern and family history with your surgeon. Medically, much has changed/improved since 1989, but an informed surgeon is even better.

    There are so many things in life that we can't control. Your decision to submit to surgery was a yes or no decision. You made your decision and now you should relax and accept the fact that you have done the best that you can considering the circumstances. Needless worry can become debilitating. I have been where you are. You will be fine.

  • My fears (not necessarily in priority):
    1. Death because of ... Who knows what!?... It happens occasionally!
    2. More nerve damage than I had before fusion and worse foot drop; and/or other permanent nerve related pain / numbness etc
    3. Failed back syndrome, (worse pain with increase in sciatic pain and additional new back pain)
    4. Permanent need for medication
    5. Loss of employment as a result of an extended absence, with financial impact, hassle of securing new employment and then becoming familiar with new organisations processes and people, etc
    6. Complications like contracting an infection
    7. Post surgical adjacent disc deterioration and additional surgery later on

    There's a lot to be anxious about. But if one can't do anything to change the circumstances, then being worried doesn't change anything and is wasted effort. Easy to say, harder to live by.

  • KeeweeKKeewee Posts: 92
    edited 12/30/2012 - 7:31 AM
    About a week before my surgery I became very tearful even a the meer mention of the word 'surgery'
    I was convinced one of the following would happen:
    1) I would die
    2) paralysis
    3) wake up during surgery
    4) have a panic attack whilst on medication
    5) not be able to look after my kids
    6) failed surgery
    7) too much pain for me to cope
    8) infection

    I discussed all of these issues with my surgeon and anaesthetist which really eased my mind.
    These guys do this job time and time again without issues and would not recommend surgery unless they expected a hood outcome.
    I liken it to going on a plane - a pilot isnt going in to that flight deck without being fully ready to fly that plane or risk committing career suicide.

    We should have faith in our surgeon and their teams, if we don't, we shouldn't proceed.

    P.s I was all good with the exception of point number 7 but that was soon fixed with a ring of the nurse bell and some extra drugs!

    Take care

    Best of luck

    2 level Discectomy 2000 open surgery
    L4/5 Discectomy & L5/S1 Laminectomy 2005- (Cauda equina) open surgery
    5 x joint injections 2012
    Discogram Dec 2012
    Dec 2012 - 360 Lumbar Fusion L4 -S1(BMP), Disc replaced L3/4, Bilat trocanter injects
  • ChicInBlueCChicInBlue Posts: 34
    edited 01/02/2013 - 11:45 AM
    Thank you Jim, I realize that this fear can be debilitating if I dont do something about it. I am going to speak with my NS about it and then just let it go. I know how much more risky his surgery was, I think its the trauma of loosing him that way and that young. I dont want my children to go thru what I did but I am over thinking it. I could die in a car accident tomorrow, there are some things we have no control over. Soooooo I vented and now gonna try to move on.

  • odile53oodile53 Posts: 65
    edited 01/17/2013 - 6:29 AM
    Along with the possibility of ending up a paraplegic, I was actually afraid of dying and going to hell, believe it or not. I had other fears, too, ranging from inadequate caregivers to being stuck wearing elastic waist pants (gick!)

    I couldn't do much about any of it, but there was one thing I could do: I contacted my parish priest a few days before surgery and received the Sacrament of the Sick (I'm Catholic.) They used to call it the Last Rites, but changed the name because it scared too many people off.

    Afterwards, we had a long chat about fear, courage, and strength, accepting limitations whether temporary or permanent, and our intrinsic value as human beings (regardless of what we are capable of doing.) That ministry of his was probably the one most helpful thing in aiding my recovery from this operation.

    I remember a deep feeling of calm and peace as I went into the OR, knowing in the very marrow of my bones that regardless of what happened, all would be well.

    If you are a person of faith, I urge you to contact your clergy, and get some spiritual help for this battle.
    I'm not a spinal diagnosis. I'm a human being with a spinal diagnosis.
  • I am just reading the posts as I prepare for my surgery (laminectomy w/spinal fusion) next month. This is so helpful to see my fears in print from other people! We do have much in common, and it's not always easy to explain our concerns to our family and friends. I appreciate hearing, and knowing, that I'm not alone in my feelings.
  • I think the biggest one is not being able to work or provide for my family.Am fortunate now that my employer is understanding because he is going through similiar things but know some that had surgerys and afterwards, were worse off..I simply dont want to chance it and will delay it until its absolutely inevitable.

    Idid become fully awake during my eye surgery,no pain but remember the pulling mostly,the fear of seeing nothing but black and super anxiety and dr yelling to put me out,couldnt remember anything for 4 days afterwards or even how I got there.turned out ok eventually and the benefit of getting my vision back outweighed the bad experience of it all.
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