How to Combat Pre-Surgery Anxiety and Fears

lailan headphone

It’s still so hard for me to believe that seven months ago I experienced open-heart surgery. When I was eight years old I was diagnosed with aortic stenosis.  My aortic valve was bicuspid and should have been a tricuspid.  I was told to go live my life normally, but one day I would need to have the valve replaced.  Two years ago an echo-cardiogram test revealed that I had entered into the critical zone for functioning aortic valves.  At age 53, the time had come.  So, plans were made to schedule the surgery and get the replacement done.  I sought out the very best cardio-thoracic surgeon in town and was told I was in great health to have an uncomplicated surgery.  All very comforting.  And months before the surgery, God put incredible people in my life to help prepare me for the surgery.  These “angels” who had had open-heart surgery themselves lovingly counseled me about what to expect and were beautiful witnesses to how great it would all turn out.

Even though I had such wonderful encouragement from friends and those who had undergone the same surgery, I still was extremely anxious.  The last time I had any sort of surgery was at age six when I had my tonsils removed.  The thought of “going under” and having my chest ripped open just about put me over the edge.  I could rationalize all day long about how open-heart surgery was being done hundreds of times every day, but I was still freaked out about the whole thing and was having a difficult time wrapping my mind around it.

As the surgery date drew closer, I received a gift in the mail from Phil’s mom who had recently undergone surgery herself.  It was a CD called Healthy Journeys: Meditation to Promote Successful Surgery by Belleruth Naparstek.  Phil’s mom had experienced wonderful benefits from the CD and wanted to share those benefits with me. She encouraged me to take time a few days before the surgery to lie down on my bed, close my eyes, and listen to the CD.  I poo poo’d the idea at first with the ‘ol “yeah, right” attitude, but then as the day drew closer and my anxiety grew, I finally thought I’d better give it a try.  I have to tell you, this CD changed my world! After listening to the CD a few more times, I truly was emotionally ready for my surgery.  It was AMAZING!  This CD calmed me and put me in a positive and peaceful state for the upcoming surgery.  I even had Phil listen to it because I wanted him to experience what I would be meditating on as I was getting ready to “go under.”   The jacket of the CD reads, “Designed to help the mind and body anticipate a successful surgery experience, surrounded by protection and support, the body slowing down blood flow and speeding up it’s mending capacity.”  The imagery was found highly effective in research at the Cleveland Clinic, UC Davis Medical Center and Blue Shield of California.

No doubt, I AM a believer in the power of prayer, and I certainly felt prayers from family and friends before, during, and after the surgery.  I truly believe this CD helped me to be more receptive and open to receiving those prayers.  As crazy as it may sound, I saw angels around me during my surgery and my dad who had passed away 10 years ago. I know he was definitely there with me.

Mom Larry CD
So happy to be going home four days after surgery. Thanks to my mother-in-law, Laura Shoffner, for sharing the Successful Surgery CD.  My father-in-law, Larry Shoffner, was also a huge help (thanks for cleaning out the fridge!)

So, if you have a surgery coming up and want to be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually ready for it, I highly recommend this CD, Successful Surgery.

Belleruth Naperstak also has many other guided imagery CD’s for health related issues. Please check them out at her website:  Health Journeys

6 thoughts on “How to Combat Pre-Surgery Anxiety and Fears

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  1. Wow, Lailan! I had tears reading the part about your dad! You had never shared that with me before! What a fabulous post for all of us to remember and share ~ for ourselves, our loved ones and friends


    1. Thank you! Listening to the CD truly is like receiving one long beautiful prayer. My dad was the first person I saw when I woke up after my catheriterization when I was 8 years old. I’ll never forget the tears in his eyes as he looked down at me.


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