If You Are Facing Surgery

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Surgery has been recommended to me. I trust my doctor, but I'm scared. How can I ease my anxiety?

In some situations surgery may be recommended by your physician. Although many people around the world walk into hospitals each day to face an operation, very few of us can do it without at least some fear. It is always a step that requires a great deal of thought and consideration since it involves some discomfort, some risk, and some disruption of one's life. I strongly feel that the decision to have surgery is always up to the patient. It is your body and your life, not that of your doctor. Do everything you can to understand your condition and the surgical and medical options available to treat that condition. Take charge of your medical care by educating yourself. Knowledge is often a good antidote to anxiety. Any medical problem, particularly one that seems to be pointing towards surgery, is anxiety producing. You will begin your own healing and recovery by taking charge of the decisions that need to be made.

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What Should Happen During The Doctor's Consultation?

When a person in my practice needs surgery, I like to set up a consultation visit to discuss all the available options, even the ones I may not feel are entirely appropriate for that particular woman. The role of a physician at this point is to provide information so that you can make the decisions you need in order to get well. Diagrams or photographs of anatomy and surgical procedures are always a part of my consultation visit.

Understandably, most people are not familiar enough with anatomy or medical terminology to get a genuine understanding of a problem or the surgical options from just a verbal explanation. Being able to visualize the problem through diagrams or photos helps to make all the options and procedures clear. During this long talk together, we discuss the risks and benefits of each possible solution to the problem.

We also talk about the recovery period after surgery and predict, as best we can, how long it will take to get back to work and normal activities. People seem most comfortable with decisions made when all information available is understood and carefully considered. If you know and understand the whole story, your head and heart will lead you to the best decision. The notion of physician as educator and the patient as an active participant in the decision process is one that is very important to me. When this relationship works well, I feel comfortable that the patient will make a decision that is right for her. I have been told by my patients that these appointments are worth their weight in gold when choices need to be made.

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