Stress of Surgery can be Reduced (PART-2)

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

People differ in the ways they cope with stressful events. How do you manage your stress when you face a challenging problem? Are you an "information seeker" or an "information avoider?"

Seekers want more information about all aspects of a situation they're about to face. Avoiders, on the contrary, do better with less information—give them more information and they may feel over burdened and confused.

When facing surgery, in order to take an active part and gain a sense of control over the process, ask your health professional how you should go about gathering the appropriate type and amount of surgical information you need.

Pain is one of the biggest worries expressed by surgical patients. Over 50 % are provided insufficient information, and they experience inadequate relief from surgery related pain. Pain control is essential for the overall success of surgery and patient satisfaction. Ask your health professional how you can learn more about pain control.

Ask about the physical limitations you may expect after surgery. Ask about your treatment options for pain control and what you can do yourself to manage your pain. Learn about the pain medications that will be given to you. Ask how you can go about alerting the health care staff when and if pain increases. Find out how the pain will be managed after your discharge from the hospital.

Prior to surgery, a psychologist can help you by directly decreasing your anxiety regarding the surgery you're facing. He or she can give you the coping skills you need to decrease your anxiety before and your pain after surgery.

Patients after surgery experience "physical stress" including symptoms such as increased blood pressure, accelerated heart rate, increased muscle tension, rapid and shallow breathing, and release of stress hormones. Deep relaxation techniques can help you to effectively reduce these and other stress symptoms.

By regularly practicing relaxation techniques through out the process, you can reduce pain, require less pain medication, improve your respiratory function, and enhance your immune function.

Your spiritual beliefs can contribute to your recovery and overall health in a positive way. Payer, faith, religion, support of the loved ones, and your spiritual beliefs can give you a sense of meaning and purpose and supply comfort in the face of illness and pain.

Once, I was treating a patient for panic attacks. At the end of the session, as we were walking out of my office, she said, "My doctor last week told me if I keep on postponing my surgery any longer, I might do more harm to myself." I asked her what was it about the surgery that scared her. She said, "it is the anesthesia, knowing that I wouldn't have any control over what happens to me."

I shared with her my experience when I was 9 or 10. I was given a crude form of anesthesia and I had flashbacks about it for a long time. Thirty years later when I was facing another surgery, I felt the fear. "However" I went on to say, "I allowed myself to feel the fear but I did it anyway."

Not wanting to let this just slide, she asked me how I found the courage to do it. I told her that according to my belief, whenever we are out of the conscious state of mind, such as in a state of deep sleep or unconsciousness, God takes over until you come back to your conscious mind.

She asked, "Why is that?" I said that our conscious mind stands in the way and doesn't let God take care of us. Since I knew that God would do a far better job of supervising my surgery than I could, I had nothing to worry about.

When she returned two weeks later, I asked her if she wanted to further explore her fears regarding the surgery. She said, "Oh, I had it done last week. Everything went fine."

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Copyright 2000, Mind Publications 


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