Anyone who has ever undergone surgery requiring full anesthesia will recognize what I am about to describe – entering the medication-induced twilight zone that your conscious mind cannot remember, a moment that might cause you extreme anxiety in the days and even moments leading up to it for fear of what you will awaken to.
Lets explore this fear a little more. What are we afraid of, really? Of course there is the fear of what surgery will expose, if a clear diagnosis has not yet been made prior to cutting your body open and looking inside. How will this transform your body, internally or visible to everyone?
It is the fear of the unknown, of which challenges and truths lie ahead of you, of how drastically your life might change from this moment onwards.
Then of course there is the fear of having to hand yourself over to a team of surgeons who are, even if highly qualified and very experienced, still human beings who can indeed make mistakes. Snipping away at you may be routine to them, but hey, this is your unique body, there is nothing routine about it to you. You are entrusting your sacred body to a team of strangers, in essence leaving you feeling somewhat vulnerable and exposed.
Last week I had the pleasure of “going under” again for another reconstructive surgical procedure, and although I did not have to worry about exposing anything unwelcome this time around, I was still faced with the “handing my body over” and “trusting the process” issue.
So how do I deal with it? I made a little pact with myself long ago, that whenever I face a fearful moment, I always have a choice: to be a helpless victim of circumstance or an active participant in the creation of my life. I can always choose to connect to that inner core of strength we each have within ourselves, and to tap into that spiritual knowledge reservoir we all have access to if we allow ourselves to go there.
My tried and trusted “go to” method to help me connect with myself in this particular circumstance: guided visualization! Whilst lying in the pre-op section in my sexy surgery attire with just the thin curtain separating my “sanctuary” from the hustle and bustle going on outside, I let one of the “successful surgery” guided imagery audio recordings from healthjourneys.com wash over me and calm me down. It always gets me into the frame of mind where I can visualize how I can release any fear, like imagining how each automated door I get wheeled through on my way to the O.R. gets slammed shut in the face of it, leaving it further and further behind, allowing space for feeling sufficiently safe with what lies ahead. The effect of the positive imagery and affirmations are so incredibly powerful, that I am able to face the floodlit and refrigerated room with a smile and perhaps a joke, and can slip away into that twilight zone trusting that I will be taken care of again one more time.
It has been shown in double blind, placebo-controlled research that guided imagery, visualizations and positive affirmations directed at successful surgery can have a direct influence on the actual outcome of the surgical procedure, can potentially reduce bleeding and improve the wound healing and recovery process. Some hospitals allow patients to listen to their recordings whilst going under anesthesia, and some even allow related music to play in the O.R. during surgery.