Your Surgery Experience

As a surgeon, I often work with patients who are scared, lonely, and overwhelmed, patients who are experiencing heightened anxiety and feelings of loss of control before and after a life-changing surgery. And I tell them, “You have just gone through a scary, traumatic experience. But you are still here, you are still alive, and today is a new opportunity.”

Of course, everyone’s experience is unique. And that applies to surgery, too. However the feelings of depression and anxiety post-surgery are universal—they are normal. And you can take comfort in the fact that every heart and lung surgery patient is dealing with the same issues, just on different levels and on different days. Each patient moves through the surgery and recovery process in their own way, experiencing their own feelings, discomforts, and fears. But in time, you will get past these issues to live a fuller, happier life.

In fact, I tell my patients, “It will take six months before you feel fully recovered.” This doesn’t mean you will always feel terrible. Just that each day gets better until you feel 100 percent again. Take comfort in that each day is different and new—and better.

During this long recovery process, there will be days when you feel great, and days when you will feel overwhelmed and tired. But do not be alarmed by these swings. Instead, think about it as a natural process of recovery. Keep things in perspective, and remember that you will feel better next week than you feel this week.

Allow your mind and spirit to experience these feelings, and know that you will feel stronger, happier, and healthier again. You have just undergone life-changing surgery. These feelings are normal. But you can counter that fear, depression, and anxiety with the knowledge that you are still here on earth. And now that your blockages are addressed and your heart can get blood, you don’t have to worry so much about your heart. Your heart is better. Your body will be better. Today is a new day. Today is a new gift.