There are a few things you can do to prepare mentally for surgery. I will go through a few things I have stumbled across on the internet (and here), in my research, and personal experience. Hopefully this will be beneficial for anyone going through weight loss surgery, or any surgery in general.
Choose a surgeon you are confident in. Weight loss surgery is not an immediate life or death decision. In fact, it’s taken me almost 6 months just to get to the point where I’ve completed everything I need to pre-op and obtained insurance approval. Since this is such a long process, do your research! I have absolute faith in my chosen surgeon. You can remind yourself that you are in skilled hands and hopefully this will help calm your fears.
Get knowledgeable! Learn as much as you can about your surgery and what to expect. The more you know, the less likely it is you will feel unprepared and powerless.
Don’t Deny your fear: Recognize your anxiety and get your feelings out in the open. Stay connected with your friends and family. A study published in the Journal of the American Collegeof Surgeons shows that patients with a large support network feel less anxiety and pain prior to operations and have a quicker, smoother recovery.
Ask family/friends for help: Lean on other people. Share what’s bothering you with a friend and ask for some helpful advice. Know which people in your life are emotionally “safe.” According to ehow.com, “It often helps to express your feelings verbally. Having a loving shoulder to lean on can be very supportive. If you have a spouse you can talk with openly and honestly with him/her about your feelings regarding the surgery. It is very helpful to be able to discuss your fears and worries with someone you love.” You should also reach out to your friends/relatives/coworkers/etc and ask for help. And if someone asks you what you need help with, TELL THEM! Whether it be visiting you at the hospital, listening to your concerns, helping you with your kids, stay with you and take care of you… Don’t be afraid ask.
Keep a positive attitude: according to ehow.com, “People who are facing surgery undoubtedly experience fear, worry and anxiety. Keeping a positive attitude can help lessen those emotions. Write a few affirmations pertaining to your surgery and repeat them as often as possible. Focus on a positive outcome.” Envision your healing. Imagine the best possible outcome for your surgery day. Imagine being relaxed and comfortable leading up to the operating room. Think about all the people in the OR that are there to help you. Imagine waking up with no pain, no nausea… just relaxed and comfortable. Her studies also show that seeing yourself surrounded by a healing light, sound, or a sense of deep peace can be very powerful.
Find a way to relax. This may be hard to do. But there are a lot of things you can do to relax prior to surgery. Meditation is a great example. If you have an iPhone, there are a number of great free podcasts that you can download. Just go to the podcast store and search for meditation (I’m sure there are other places for free podcasts than the apple podcast store, but I’m not aware of them). Sample a few to find which ones you like. You can also listen to calming music, journal, take a bath, get a massage, etc. Reiki or healing crystals are also something to look into if you are open to that. In case you were wondering, “Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by “laying on hands” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one’s “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.”
Keep a journal. Reflect on your day, your emotions, and your personal goals. Writing is also a great way to relax and put things into perspective.
Bring relaxing CDs/mp3s to the hospital with you. Listen to them before and even after surgery. Research shows music reduces anxiety and blood pressure in hospital patients. It helps you focus on something other than your fears.
Pray: If you are a religious person, pray for a positive outcome. Ask friends and relatives to pray for you.
And finally –
Bring a little piece of home to the hospital: Bring something with you to the hospital that brings you comfort, or helps you feel loved.
If you have anything to add to this list, please let me know!