So, there are a whole load of things I want to share, but the other day I went to visit my cousin and discovered a very interesting fact about post-operative anxiety. Yes, it’s a thing. I was not aware, but post-operative anxiety is a recognised condition. And it was something they experienced after their daughter had her tonsils out. OK, so their daughter is four, so that means she will have had a different level of understanding of what is happening. For example, anxiety manifested itself in not wanting to sleep, which is understandable as the operation starts with being put to sleep. But surely someone older, such as myself, would be able to separate the induced sleep of the operation from the normal state of sleeping? Well, yes, I expect so, but the subconscious is an odd thing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a manifestation of post-operative anxiety in any age group.
Anyway, seeds were sown, and I did a bit of research on post-operative anxiety. It’s not something they talk about in the pre-op so I wanted to see how much of a big thing it really is. There is very little official evidence of this being common – nothing on NHS Choices, and the main hits being forums or very confusing studies of postoperative pain (some albeit with anxiety thrown in). Add in post-operative depression however, and a few more useful sites come to light. This article is probably the best: http://www.alternet.org/having-surgery-what-you-need-know-about-post-operative-depression. It attributes post-operative depression to “disappointment in the outcome of the surgery and a response to physical changes such as stitches or scars as well as resulting feelings of vulnerability and fear”. Now I would say in a way I experienced aspects of all of these to some extent, although I was very pleased with the outcome, just slightly annoyed by the small lump existing at the top of my scar. The vulnerability was especially prevalent – it’s in a way a very invisible procedure and I think I felt that people wouldn’t understand if I pushed myself to do something and then suddenly withdrew.
I wrote briefly back in August about the anxiety I experienced in early 2013 (https://afterscoliosis.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/anxiety/) but didn’t really think that post-operative anxiety was normal. I don’t recall having extreme problems sleeping, and, with the nature of my operation, problems I did have I just credited to discomfort. But now I feel like maybe my anxiety was more normal than we all thought!
Not sure how this post should end, so I will leave you with a few more useful website I found, as well as some really complicated research! Good for any scientists reading, maybe? (Not you Sunny)