Nervous about surgery, anyone else?

posted 5 months ago in Wellness
Post # 2
85 posts
Worker bee

When I got my tonsils out I bawled in front of my surgeon before the surgery. A couple years later I had my thyroid removed and did the same. I was an adult so it was embarrassing, but they’ve seen it all and in my cases the OR nurses were amazing and lovely and made me feel a lot better when I talked to them about how freaked out I was. While a tonsillectomy is a relatively minor procedure, it’s scary to go under for any kind of surgery. I think your anxiety is pretty justified and understandable, and you can let your care team know how you’re feeling, they can help you out. If you’re really having an extremely hard time managing the anxiety then perhaps talking to someone (counsellor) beforehand could be helpful. 

Post # 3
457 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

I had my tonsils out in my mid twenties and it’s been the BEST thing ever. I would totally tell your doc that you’re anxious, and I’ll say the recovery is a little rough, but the ultimate outcome will absolutely be worth it! 

Post # 5
671 posts
Busy bee

Weddingbee threw out my first response…anyway…

Deep breaths bee! It is totally normal to be nervous. In response to some of your specific questions:

1) I have never had surgery but I am an OR nurse and I talk to my patients before we take them back for surgery and I have seen many patients experience anxiety and I totally empathize. If it helps, you can have your family stay with you in the preoperative room once the nurse is done getting you ready. Or some patients feel more anxious with family around so whatever makes you more comfortable. Some patients like to pray or meditate or even journal their feelings. Also- Ask lots of questions! Knowledge is power and knowing what to expect can alleviate some nervousness.

2) Definitely let your healthcare providers know about your history of anxiety and that you are feeling especially nervous. Where I work, the nurse anesthetist (the nurse who keeps you asleep throughout the procedure) gives a dose of sedative through the IV before we even leave the preoperative area to take the edge off. If you are feeling panicky, let your preop nurse and/or anesthesia team know and they may be able to give you some medication once you sign all of the legal documents (procedure and anesthesia consents, etc). Don’t be afraid to say something- the surgical team is there for you to have a safe and positive experience. 

3) I have never seen a surgery cancelled due to severe anxiety but that is just my limited experience in surgery. I have seen patients refuse surgery or cancel for various reasons though.

Remember that it is okay to be nervous- I would be too! Your ENT doc can go through the details of the procedure with you step-by-step and that may help alleviate anxiety as well. It sounds like you are aware of some risks and complications which is a great start. 

I actually had a tonsil bleed case last week we took back to OR and he did fine. All of the very few tonsil bleeds I’ve had have done well actually. It can happen, but just know that your post anesthesia care unit (PACU) team is trained on what to look for and what to do in the event that you have complications and they will act quickly to ensure you can maintain your airway and breathe effectively. We take our patients back fairly quickly to ensure we get the bleeding to stop and will get you all fixed up should the worst case scenario occur. 

Hope this helps! I’m sure you will do well 🙂

Post # 7
671 posts
Busy bee

Good questions! Most tonsillectomy cases are done as outpatient, meaning that you will have the surgery and then go to the Recovery room (PACU) for a few hours and then get sent home if all goes well. So the information you have been given sounds pretty standard.

The nurses there will let you wake up and do their assessments and give you pain medication if needed and check your vital signs every so often and make sure you are okay to go home.

If they see anything abnormal while you’re in the recovery room or if you start hemorrhaging, they will notify the surgeon immediately, which is what I was referring to in my previous post.

The surgeon will talk to you and your family about how the surgery went and go over specific instructions with you for recovery. The nurse will go over discharge instructions, which will outline what to do if you experience complications with a number to call if you have questions or concerns. 

Unfortunately, like you said, you can experience bleeding in the days after surgery while you’re at home. If you are 10 minutes away from the hospital that’s pretty good though. Just make sure you understand all of the instructions clearly and if you notice anything out of the ordinary while you’re recovering, don’t be afraid to call. And if you start bleeding head to the ER. Most of the tonsil bleeds come into the ER from home and we take them back within an hour and get it taken care of.  otterbee :  

Post # 8
47138 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

Are you on any anxiety meds now? Often you are allowed to take your medication with a sip of water, even though normally patients are fasting before surgery. Ask your surgeon.

Post # 10
2598 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2017

otterbee :  go see your doctor and tell them how nervous you are, they should be able to give you something to take the day off to help with that, vets do it for pets so they must have it for humans 

Post # 11
357 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2017 - Kaneohe, Hawaii

Ditto having a convo with the docs and nurses re: the surgery. I have anxiety but also a psychologist 😉 so I get the overthinking and catastrophizing. When I had my last surgery, a hysteroscopy, so day surgery as well, I was very open about being nervous and anxious. Also that I had a crappy experience with the surgery I had before. Everyone was so kind and gentle. The reassurance and confidence they have really helped with my nerves. 

Post # 12
518 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2018 - UK

I had acute appendicitis a couple of years ago, and because it was urgent, I pretty much went straight from the emergency room to surgery. I’d be nervous anyway, but in that case I was terrified! I was in agony, had a fever, my family couldn’t come through with me because it was the middle of the night, and appendicitis was something if always had a bizarrely specific fear of getting.

When I was due to go in, I told the doctors I was scared, and they all said it would be fine, but there was one particular anaesthetist who could see how worried I was, so he stayed next to me and held my hand until the anaesthetic took hold. I can’t remember the other staff who worked on me, but I can remember that one lovely man as clear as day. 

Tell the nurses how you feel, they’ll help reassure you. In my experience too, the anaesthetists are usually really calming, they tend to see people when they’re most scared. I’ve had general anaesthetic 4 times and that’s been my experience every time.

In terms of worrying about healing and bleeding, they usually keep you for a few hours, and won’t let you leave until they’re happy you’re safe to go. When I had another op (3 impacted wisdom teeth), they were about to let me leave but kept me there for another couple of hours because I started feeling sick. Trust the medical staff, and know that you can usually call and ask to see someone urgently if you have any problems – if you’re post surgery they’ll normally see you as a priority.

Best of luck bee! Xx

Post # 13
1029 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2017 - A vineyard

Yes. I have anxiety and it gets really bad when theres anything to do with needles or scalpels. Even a blood draw is a huge thing for me. Dental appointments and surgery appointments I handle by taking a sedative that my doctor gives me only for specific situations like those before I come in. It helps quite a bit.

Post # 14
760 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2016 - Wedgewood Las Vegas

I had my thyroid removed last year. Prior to this, I’ve never had ANY type of surgery. Never even had stitches either. 

I was a wreck for the week before the event. Part of it was be just being nervous, and the other part was that high anxiety was also a symptom of my toxic thyroid. 

What helped the most was as the team was preparing me the morning of the surgery, each critical person of my operation came, introduced themselves, and just talked to me. I specifically told the anesthesiologist that I was nervous about the after affects, and how my grandpa had an allergic reaction to his that nearly killed him. The dude was super cool, and adjusted the meds he planned to use on me. When I woke up after, I wasn’t nauseous like I was afraid it was going to be. 

Prior to the surgery, they gave me something to help calm me down. I’m sure they can do the same for you too. They jokingly referred to it as my ‘liquid courage’. 🙂

Just remember, the anxiety and fear before the surgery is often worse than the actual procedure! At least that’s how it was for me! 

Good luck!

Post # 15
59 posts
Worker bee

I can give you some advice. I too had this done as an adult. Healing sucked, but I haven’t had strep throat since (it’s been a decade), when I do get a sore throat it is less severe (my sore throats came with BRUTAL refered ear pain) and basically you are going to be glad you had the surgery. Do you have any sinus/breathing promblems? My doctor recommended dixinf my deviated septum and opening my nasal passage some while he was doing the tonsillectomy because I had always had a bit of trouble breathing through my nose at night. I am glad they were bundled. If you have any nasal issues you might look into that, then you don’t have to have another surgery later.

Tell your doc you are nervous. He will give you a Xanax or something for the day of (or maybe even earlier). It will help. Ask if you can get whatever perscriptions you will need written early so you can have them filled already and ready to go.

Don’t eat anything red while you are recovering. It will make it hard to tell if there is more inflammation.  Gatorade was good. Frosty’s from Wendy’s were heaven. Pasta was not good. Basically really soft food. Or just ice cream you know? You will definitely miss chewing. I felt ok eating stuff the fiesf day, but the day after my throat started hurting more and all ocecream and soup for a week or something.

DO NOT LOOK AT YOUR THROAT WHILE IT IS HEALING.  it will freak you out and the scabs look fucking terrible. Don’t do it. Never pick a scab. That can cause bleeding.

The most important thing (besides don’t look down your throat) is to keep a good schedule for your pain meds. My doctor could not emphasize this enough. It  sounds like your mom and husband will be around to help? They need to be 100% on board with keeping the schedule. The pain is really bad, but if you keep on the schedule it will be ok. This means someone will have to set an alarm, wake up in the night, wake you up, and give you meds. It doesn’t matter if they are tired, or you are sleeping so peacfully. They need to fucking do it. If you at the pain meds wear off before giving you the next dose it is fucjfuc terrible, and just do not do it. Stress how important that is to them.

When you start tappering off the perscription pain killers I recommend liquid cool burst Tylenol.

Get a few bottles. It sort of cools the throat and is amazing.


Pain meds give me super vivid dreams. I discovered I should not watch law and order or Criminal Minds because they gave me nightmares. I ended up watching a lot of romantic comedies.

Do you have a recliner? I slept in that, and basically stayed in it for a week. It was much more comfortable. 

Both times I have had surgery I have gotten my period soon after. When it wasn’t scheduled, so maybe have supplies on hand. Also I was so out of it from pain meds I ended up putting two tampons in at some point. So like, careful what you do!


Good luck, you will be great.

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