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Controlling the Dread

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:24 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello ALL! :H

I have an upcoming 360 Fusion and I feel the dread and terror starting to build. :SS :SS Slowly but surely as the days pass and the time gets closer I am getting "the feeling" it seems a little more each day.

I had a TLIF last year 9/07 and in pre-op they thought I was gonna stroke out. Seriously considered postponing the surgery. Once the sedative kicked in I was OK but leading up to the sedative I was a wreck. I was perspiring so bad, the nurse had a terrible time putting on the compression stockings.

I was wondering what I can do to help get this feeling somewhat under control. If anyone has some suggestions on what I can do to lessen this feeling, I'm all ears. 8> I'd hate to go through the same thing again this time.




  • Hi Kevin, I know what you are going through. What it did to me was gave me anxiety attacks :SS . I took xanax to get me through the week before surgery. Perhaps you should contact either your surgeon or PMD and get a something to calm you down. Xanax or valium seem to be the most common. Other than that, I think just talking about it helps, but not enough. Also when you get to the hospital maybe you can ask for something right away. They wouldn't give me anything because I needed to talk to anesthesia and he was in another case. If you haven't had your pre-op yet, tell them as well. I hope you are the first case of the day so you don't have to wait. Good-luck, and keep coming here for support. >:D< Sue
  • Hi Kevin,

    I understand that you are experiencing fear as your surgery is approaching, it just shows that you are normal. We all did, some of us more, some of us less. What helped me was trying to think positively, reading statistics emphasizing the positive, not that there is a 1% chance for complications but rather that there is a 99% chance for success. Listen to soothing music, try meditation or just doing things you enjoy. And under no circumstances should you talk to people who are pessimistic and imagine the worst. Ask your friends to tell you jokes, laughter is the best cure for anxiety. If all else fail, ask you doc for a mild sedative. And remember, most people get through spinal surgery, and the majority will be happy they went through, especially once some or all of the pre-surgery symptoms disappear. I know that I am really happy my surgery is behind me and now I can go on with my life.

    Best of luck, and THINK POSITIVE!

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  • When I got scared before my first cervical surgery, I sat down and talked to my NS. We had been through 7 lumbar surgeries together, so he knows me well and knew that if I was scared he needed to address it. After having a good discussion about it, I was able to manage a lot better.

  • I also agree to get something to relax you like a sedative. Also trying relaxation and breathing excercises. Sometimes to say a parayer light a candle then pray and then blow it out knowing you've asked for help beyond yourself. Thinking healing thoughts for you. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Haylie. Everything that she mentions is great advice for reducing anxiety. I also used these techniques before my surgery and they really do work.
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  • The weeks before my surgery (microdisectomy) I was in so much pain that I was having nightmares about being paralyzed. I started having panic attacks when I've never had them before. At first I thought it was a side effect to the pain meds, but they continued even when I switched. The days leading up to the surgery were the worst.

    You are already doing the best thing you can, and that is reading this site and getting up to speed on the facts. You also have reached out for help, and believe me we are all here for you! Sometimes talking (or writing, in this case) helps, and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the best thing you can do is distract yourself completely. Anxiety can be like a migraine headache; sometimes no matter what you do, nothing seems to help and you have to just get through it. In those cases, it is best to distract your mind completely. Work crossword puzzles, watch gameshows on tv, or even color in a coloring book (as crazy as that sounds, it can help). There is no logic involved when you are going through a panic attack. Self-talk can help sometimes, but for those times when it doesn't work, please try self-distraction. Try to name in your mind all your favorite tv characters and tv shows. Do multiplication tables. It's like your mind can out-run the anxiety if you get it busy enough.

    The moments leading up to the surgery, when they are putting on the stockings, try to keep your mind blank. You will already have done what you can to prepare yourself, so plan on that last 30 minutes to clear your mind of all material thoughts. Focus again on favorite tv shows, and know that you are in good hands (Say a prayer and know that God will get you through the surgery). Don't let yourself think about the surgery or recovery or anything else involved. That's what I did, and it worked well. I was polite to the people that came in and answered the doctor's questions, but I refused to think about what was happening or was going to happen at that point. If you run out of things to think about, think about all of us here who are praying and pulling for you! You can even try to remember as many of our names as possible.

    Regarding medications, I think it is a good idea to plan on taking something in the days leading up to the surgery as well as when you first get home. Valium is said to work well with muscular and nerve issues, and Xanax also is popular. You can also try Ativan (Lorazapam), which also helps with anxiety and is easier to get off of than Xanax. Don't hesitate to tell the doctor you would like some in the recovery room after the surgery. I have read where others did that. A psychiatrist told me it is a physiological reaction to surgery to have depression and anxiety. He also said this means it will go away more quickly than your regular old depression or anxiety not associated with surgery. Even the psychiatrist I was speaking to had experienced depression and anxiety when he went through a recent surgery, so it can happen to anyone.

    Can I ask what your deepest fears are? Sometimes addressing those specifically can help. We can go over them as many times as you need to in order to feel better. Please also send me a Private Message if I can help. I've just gotten off the anxiety rollercoaster ride myself, and I want to help you if I can. :)

  • I did puzzles, read books and even crocheted a blanket for my daughet 2 weeks before my ALIF! I even finished the blanket the night before at 1am, and left it on her for when she woke up!
    I also took some ativan to help relax me a couple of weeks before. I took it sometimes at night to help me relax and sleep and then when I felt like I was confused about the surgery and wanted to back out! Also handling family, especially with my kids, it was good to take to keep "my head up" for their sakes.
    Find something that would interest YOU! Something that you can do that's easy and fun but maybe time consuming too, so your mind is on something else.
    Mind me asking, but why now a 360?? What happened?? Sorry if i missed a post where you told us.

    Kim >:D<
  • Bless you for your candid honesty & thoughtful post. I also "knew what I was in for" having had some priors, as you have. I talked to my NS & he RX'd Valuim PRN, which helped tremendously. As did staying positive, just "going" w/ the panic, trying not to fight it yet knowing it would pass. I also had a lot of "lead-time" & I think that was counterproductive; it was a long wait (4 weeks) from the DX to the surgery, so I had too much time to think about it. I came real close to cancelling it also, so don't feel bad about those thoughts either.. I finally calmed down about a day b4 and surprisingly, I was very calm & relaxed the day of. (Even b4 the meds!) I had my surgery team pray w/ me b4 they started & reminded myself that THEY ALSO wanted the best for me, would be gentle with me & careful, etc & that all would be fine, which it was. When I woke up in ICU, the nurses prayed w/ me again (I had some prayers in my gown pocket!) and I slept comfortably that night, my pain was bad, but controlled & I figured I was in the safest place I'd ever be in my life, with everyone around me watching & caring for me, etc.

    As was suggested, it's a "mind game" and that's the tough part. I would just get calmed down, talk to myself about all the benefits,etc...and then *zap* a panic attack would come out of nowhere....so that's what the PRN Valuim is for. Or whatever you & your doc decide.

    Think of it as a type of "joyful misery" coming up---you'll hurt for awhile, but the procedure will help you lead a better life. Now, at 10 months, I still think back to January & that particular day...but I am very glad I had my fusion, it's helped me be able to teach again & the anxiety abates as you heal, as you recover, when you experience the return of some normalcy in your life, which I assume right now, is missing. Ponder those things: the gifts modern medicine can afford you that 100 years ago you would have to bear w/o relief.

    Kevin, you are very brave! Remember that! Do what you must to get thru until your date, then "let go" (give up, almost) to the surgery team & go onto an "uneventful" recovery, as they say!

    Stay here! We're all here for you!


  • I will tell ya the second time around is easier. It was on me anyway. I knew what was going to happen, what it was going to feel like etc.

    Yes they will give you something to take if you ask in advance. OR if you were like me I started getting a headache/nausea. So they rushed me back and gave me MEDS MEDS MEDS whew was lovin that one.

    This time I awoke with only burning pain in the incision and nausea. I remember everything from the time of recovery through the whole night.
    The year before I remembered nothing at all the first 2 days.

    I straight out told the nurses DO NOT touch me, I can roll out of bed myself!!!! Yes I grabbed on to their arm . But let me tell ya I walked all the way down the hall etc.
    My post op pain control wasn't half as much as I had last year.

    So basically discuss this with the anthesologist etc.
    I told them I have a very low pain tolerence. I have super high anxiety after they wake me up etc. Well they must of took care of that before they woke me. I was not crying or anything.

    So relaxxxxxxxxxxx. You did it last time you can do it this time!!!
    See last yr you had no clue what this surgery was going to bring pain wise etc. Now you know for this one ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;) ;)

    GOOD LUCK <:P <:P <:P <:P <:P <:P
  • Before my surgery, my doctor prescribed Valium for muscle spasms. Of course, it also helped in reducing my anxiety. But in addition to this, I found that pampering myself helped tons. Similar to what Kin suggested in an earlier post, I listened to classical music, enjoyed cups of hot decaf tea, and I burned aromatherapy candles. I meditated, and was mentally prepared by the day of my surgery. I would definitely discuss your fears with your doctor.

    Good luck,
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