Making Foot Surgery Less Scary: Tips from a Barber
You find yourself in a strange unfamiliar place. You’re instructed to stay still so you don’t get hurt. A person you don’t know, don’t trust and can’t see is doing something you never dreamed you would need. Sure it doesn’t hurt, but as you hear every cut you have doubts and begin thinking you could have done with out this. Loved ones tried to prepare you with reassuring words that everything would be ok, it wouldn’t hurt, and you really needed it. There were even pormisies that you’ll look so good afterwards. While others have explained what’ going to happen, as you feel the vibration of a big power tool as it cuts away you’re scared. As you see parts that were once attached to your body hit the floor you are terrified and the tears start to stream.
Luckily I don’t remember my first haircut.
To my barber and anyone else who had such a “procedure” it was minor. As the old joke goes:
What's the difference between minor surgyer and major surgery?
When they cut on you it’s minor
When they cut on me it’s MAJOR
Recently while having a minor haircut, I overheard the advice form an experienced barber to a new father. The same advice also alpplies to someone getting ready for their first foot surgery.
Get to know the person with the sharp tools
Trust isn’t immediately established by an introduction and a hand shake. Getting to feel comfortable and establishing a rapport helps reduce stress in what surely be a stressful new experience. Knowing that someone you know and respect trust this individual enables you to trust.
Go to someone competent and confident
If the person with the sharp object isn’t confident and competent you know it. Worse yet both of you will most likely be disappointed with the experience and the results. That’s why nervous first time moms don’t make good first time barbers. It appropriate to ask you doctor how many of these procedures they’ve done, if he or she specializes, and even check with other patients.
Have a loved one around
Having a loving smiling face to look when they put you in the barber’s chair is reassuring. While it’s not possible to have a friend or family member be with you during your entire surgery, having them in the Pre-Op area and when you are in the recovery area can be comforting. Your anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist can also be comforting as you will be able to see their face and talk to them during the procedure.
Explain what is happening in terms they can understand
Fear of the unknown is often worse than the actual experience. If you are awake during your procedure you may want to ask the doctor to explain what is going on. Hearing a saw in a quiet room can be as terrifying as hearing a clippers next to your ear. If you don’t understand the terminology make sure to ask. A child understands “now we’re going to tickly your neck” as easily as a patient understands “now we are shortening your bone”
Talk with someone who has already had it done
Hearing form someone who has experienced what you are facing can be a wealth of information. Now with the advent of the internet it’s almost as easy to connect with someone who has had your surgical procedure as finding one who has ever had a haircut. Online forums and chat groups can be great places for opinions. Just take everything with a grain of salt as you will always find some vocal person complaining about their bad haircut.
Watch it being done on someone else
Once again the internet makes it almost as easy to watch a video of someone getting foot surgery as getting a haircut. Some people odn't wnat to see blood, ther'e or anyone elses. Fot them their are surgical animation that show exactly what will be done with out any of the gory details. Ask your doctor for resources she recommends.
Focus on the lolli-pop
Make sure you know why you are going through the procedure and focus on the long term benefit. For foot surgery that could mean the elliation of pain, the ability to be more active, to fit into those shoes again. No child wants a haircut. He wants to look like daddy, be a big boy and be handsome. When thing get tough along the way remember to focus on the lolli-pop.