Preparing for surgery
Creating a peaceful transition
Introduction by Dr Bart Rademaker, Board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon
As a plastic surgeon I believe in personal growth and transformation. As we perform wonderful changes for our patients with surgery, it is imperative that we help each patient in every aspect of this transformation. Our emotions, our thinking and our spiritual expressions all play a part and therefore merit our complete attention here at Rejuva. The preparing for surgery program with Dr Anthony Calandro is pivotal in this holistic approach bringing about amazing changes and better outcomes. Patients who fully embrace this program have become raving fans and make us all realize, we are on the right track in providing a fully integrated approach to surgical medicine. – Dr. Bart Rademker
Having surgery brings us face to face with our mortality. There is also the fear of pain, embarrassment, the unknown, as well as the psychological fears and concerns that go along with any surgery. For example: am I worth it, do I deserve this, or am I just being selfish? As you prepare for surgery remember that there are many alternative methods to help you experience a peaceful transition throughout your entire surgical process.
For over 20 years studies have shown that surgical patients who have been prepared emotionally in advance, so they are in a more peaceful state of mind going into surgery, have less pain, heal quicker, have less complications and leave the hospital earlier. Seeing a mind-body practitioner can assist you in this preparation by helping you to explore your fears, challenges, and concerns. This is the key to wellness (and a speedy recovery).
A few steps to prepare yourself emotionally:
First, know your coping style. People are either attentive to every small detail, or they want to leave the fine points in the hands of someone they trust. Discovering the right amount of information for you can make all the difference in the world.
Second, ask yourself “What do I feel? Is there fear inside of me? Am I feeling anxiety, worry, guilt, anger or depression?” Many people experience a broad range of emotions and find it helpful to work through them.
Third, also ask friends and family to send you positive thoughts and prayers during your time of surgery and afterwards. Remember energy follows thought, so the more love directed in your way the better.
Negative thoughts can turn into a whirlwind of emotions and drain all of your energy if left unresolved. Discovering the root cause behind these emotions can make a shift from a possibly fearful experience to a more pleasant one. If you have a fear regarding your surgery, or fear that you don’t deserve this procedure, it’s important to take the time to question this concern and do some self discovery to help create peace of mind for yourself.
By taking the time to question your stressful thoughts you can shift out of your fear based story, and back into a state of awareness and inner peace. Once this shift has been made, you will become aware of the calmness that has come in and replaced your stressful thoughts. Believing that you deserve this procedure and then developing that belief into knowing that you deserve, can create peace of mind within you.
Our lives today have become so busy and chaotic that we live in a constant state of anxiety and stress. Running here and there, feeling like we are one step behind and always trying to catch up. We’re always running behind, but do we really know where were going? When will we ever be able to sit still and just relax? So often when we don’t take the time to listen to our body and relax; life itself will make that decision for us. For most people, their head and their body seem to act as two separate entities. Your body doesn’t want your head to catch up with it because then you’ll be force to think. That’s why we create accidents, get sick, or run out of places to run to, and are simply forced into sitting alone with our thoughts.
Whether your surgery is by choice or not, it still can have the same outcome. Being forced to sit alone with your thoughts and having no where else to go, and nothing to do but think. This experience can also cause emotions to surface that have not yet been dealt with. Throughout my career I have worked with a large number of patients who have experienced depression and/or anxiety while feeling the inability to escape their situation. This experience is not something to be feared but rather one to be embraced as an opportunity for self growth.
Let’s discuss anxiety because it is something we all face at one time or another and can be heightened at a time such as this. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and has symptoms such as: heart palpitations, fatigue, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath, stomach aches, or headaches. Physically, your body is preparing the organism to deal with a threat. Blood pressure and heart rate are increased, sweating is increased, blood flow to the major muscle groups is increased, and immune and digestive system functions are inhibited (the fight or flight response). External signs of anxiety may include pale skin, sweating, trembling, and pupil dilation.
Anxiety also has its emotional symptoms: feelings of apprehension, dread, panic, trouble concentrating, feeling tense or jumpy, anticipating the worse, irritability, restlessness, feeling like the minds gone blank, night mares or bad dreams, obsessions about sensations, déjà vu, a trapped in your mind feeling, and feeling like everything is scary. To merely treat these symptoms with medication will not correct the root cause; your fear.
Rather than following traditional ways of simply signing a consent form or providing you a hand out sheet about what will be happening with your body (and also your state of mind), we want to provide the best in patient care. Although it’s a primary focus, patient care with the doctors and staff at Rejuva is not just making sure your surgery is a technical success. We also want to provide you with the knowledge, awareness and understanding that will help you create a peaceful state of mind as you explore this new experience. As with anything in life, the more grounded and centered you become, the better the situation turns out.
Taking the time to prepare yourself psychologically for surgery is strongly recommended and well worth your time. Make a list of questions and schedule an additional appointment before surgery and after your procedure. Making adjustments to the new you can be just as important coming out of surgery as going in.
And one last thing to remember – you deserve it!
by Anthony Calandro, Ph.D.
Pastoral Counseling Psychology