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Five Ways of Overcoming Fear of Major Surgery

Updated on July 14, 2020
Paul Kuehn profile image

Since 2003, Paul has been an inpatient five times at hospitals in Thailand. All of his stays have been at international hospitals.



Fear of Major Surgery

Man is afraid of the unknown; therefore, it is only natural for most people to fear to undergo major surgery. Wouldn't you tremble to know you had to have open-heart surgery, brain surgery, or a leg amputated?

When I learned on March 31, 2015, that I had to have a kidney removed, I, too, was scared. What if I had a heart attack or stroke during the operation? Suppose I never woke up from the anesthesia given to me? I guess that is the reason I finalized my last will during the week before the operation.

Based on my recent experience of undergoing kidney surgery, I suggest five ways of overcoming the fear of major surgery in this article. Simply put, they are knowledge, trust, laughter, optimism, and support from loved ones.

1. Educate Yourself on the Reality of the Surgery


Most people fear surgery because they don't understand what will happen after going into the operating room. There is a saying that knowledge is power, and this knowledge of understanding what will happen to you during surgery will lessen or overcome your fear.

A smart person will try to understand as much as possible about his or her upcoming surgery. This can be done by reading books and/or Internet articles as well as viewing Youtube videos about the specific surgery you will have. You can also learn about your scheduled operation by talking or corresponding with people who have had the same operation.

After I was diagnosed with a kidney tumor and knew that I needed the removal of a kidney, I told my second oldest sister who is a vet. Fortunately, she had a friend who also had his kidney removed in 2013. Pat put me in touch with her friend, Steve, who answered all of my questions about the kidney operation he had had. Steve's answers and recollections of the operation made my upcoming surgery sound not as bad as I thought it would be. I was especially encouraged by Steve's comments that he was able to walk on the same day of his operation and leave the hospital after a three-day stay.

2. Have Trust in God and People


Almost everyone is afraid of the unknown after death, and that is the primary reason for belief in God and religion. Having trust in God is very comforting, and it gives you hope for life after death.

Trust in God is also very comforting for anyone who will undergo a serious operation. Trust in God accompanied by prayers to Him is also reassuring in that an upcoming surgery will be smooth and successful.

Having faith and trust in the knowledge and skills of medical people such as cardiologists, surgeons, and anesthesiologists who will be involved in an operation is also essential for allaying our fear. Without trust in medical people, surgery would be much more dreadful.

3. Don't Be So Serious


It is only natural for patients to feel serious about their illnesses and upcoming operations. Laughter, however, is the best medicine and it definitely will make you relax and feel better when facing surgery. Before my kidney operation, the anesthesiologist told me a really funny joke in the pre-operating room before surgery which made me laugh and take my mind off of the imminent operation.

4. Be Optimistic


It is extremely important to be positive or optimistic before surgery. By knowing the surgery you will undergo and faith and trust in medical people, you will be much more optimistic about the results of your surgery. I focused on the successful results of my sister's friend's kidney operation which made me feel positive about my operation. I also recalled pulling through other surgeries where I was under anesthesia. This also gave me an optimistic feeling going into the operation.

5. Support and Reassurance from Loved Ones and Friends

Author and Wife
Author and Wife | Source

Finally, it is essential to have the support and reassurance from loved ones and friends before and during surgery. Before my kidney operation, there were so many friends and relatives who expressed concern and said they would pray for me so everything would turn out alright. This was reassuring and gave me the power to overcome the fear of surgery. It was also comforting to have my wife with me until the time I went to a pre-operating room one hour before my operation.

Overcoming the Fear of Major Surgery

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If you are scheduled for major surgery, try not to be afraid. A famous U.S. President once said that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Educating yourself about specific surgeries and having trust in God and your medical personnel will go a long way in lessening or removing your fear. Finally, make sure you are not too serious, be optimistic, and have the support of friends and loved ones.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2015 Paul Richard Kuehn


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    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Yes, it is important to know as much as possible about your sickness, operation, and other plans of treatment. With this knowledge your fears will be lessened or removed.

    • peachpurple profile image


      5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      I agree, when I first had my gallbladder surgery, I was afraid that I might just kick the bucket too. Knowledge of the surgery is important.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      &torrilynn I'm happy you found my tips on overcoming fear of surgery useful. When I was younger, I especially hated dental surgery and I guess that's the main reason I ended up having to have most of my teeth pulled when I was only 47.

    • torrilynn profile image


      5 years ago

      My biggest fear is getting any type of surgery, whether it's big or small. thanks for the tips on overcoming surgery. Best of wishes.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I am confident that prayers do help when you are faced with any danger. It's great that you liked this hub and found it good.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Hi Larry! Most people are terrified about going under the knife. Fortunately, with the anesthesia that is used today you will not be able to remember what happened during the operation. I still have nightmares about my first operation at age 6 when I was given ether during an acute appendectomy. I'm glad you found this hub helpful.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Hi Bill! It's great to ready your comments again, It's great that you liked this hub and found it useful. How true it is that the older we get the more likely we will have medical problems. I am sure you will be able to face any needed surgeries as calmly and intelligently as me.

    • Paul Kuehn profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thanks for your good evaluation of this hub and I'm very happy you liked it and found it useful. I also appreciate you voting up this article.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      In 1994 I had a radical hystetectomy.I was on a prayer chain which gave me some peace. Good hub.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma

      I am terrified of going under the knife. Very helpful article.

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 

      5 years ago from Cape Cod

      Hi Paul,

      I am sorry to read that you had this surgery, and not surprised that you came up with such a strong and reasoned approach to it. I hope you are feeling well and kudos for creating this work. At our age it is not a question of if we are going to have a medical problem, but when. I hope I will be able to face my future surgeries as calmly and intelligently as you did.


    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Great hub and a very important one!

      I had undergone gallbladder stones surgery some 20 years back. Family support and reassurance is very important. Prayers can keep you strong plus awareness and education about the surgery is a must.

      A very thoughtful hub, with important tips for those who have to undergo surgical procedures in near future.

      Thanks for sharing, voted up as useful!


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