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@pianopain12 Karen, since you love music, there is a lot you can do to use music to help with fear. I had to face my own fear of major surgery when I needed surgery for a compressed spinal cord. Every day as soon as I thought about spine surgery, my blood pressure jumped and I felt the butterflies in my stomach. I started listening to relaxing music that I loved. I put on my headphones and focused on the music and my breathing and I did slow deep breathing in time to the music. I found out that I could drop my blood pressure 15 points by doing this, and I did this every morning and every time I felt anxious. I tried to see colors in the music in my mind. After I had mastered this trick, I wanted to be able to associate a particular surgeon with the good feelings I was getting from the music, so while I did my listening and breathing, I looked at a photo (or an online video without sound) of the surgeon. I did this over and over to train my brain that this guy was going to be OK. When you are waiting to meet a surgeon, the moment the door opens is a kind of anxiety producing event, and I wanted to lessen my response to that so I could focus on the rest of the appointment instead of thinking about my fears.

Later I added singing into my routine when I listened to the music, so I ended up singing to the image of the doctor. Sometimes I woke up in the middle of the night and sang along with my music.

I decided to have a special song to sing with words that had something to do with my dilemma, so I wrote some lyrics as a parody song. I had always liked Rogers & Hammerstein's television production of Cinderella. Right after Cinderella arrives at the ball and meets the prince, they sing a duet, "Ten Minutes Ago" and I wrote words to that about that moment when the door opened and I met my surgeon, but this time, I had met the right surgeon who would be the one to help me by decompressing my spinal cord. Once you have a song like this, you can use it again when you need it, and I did need it eleven months after my spine surgery when I needed some emergency oral surgery. I had an hour drive to the office to meet a new surgeon and I knew I was clearly in trouble. In my mind I told myself that this was a consultation to avoid thinking about surgery (but it had been scheduled with enough time to do the surgery). I sang my "Ten Minutes Ago" song over and over in the car singing along with the actual recordings from the TV production until arrived at my appointment. The surgeon talked to me and told me it was my choice if I wanted to schedule the surgery for another appointment or I could do it now. I choose to get it over with since waiting would just keep me worried, and I was doing OK. I talked to him about my past fears with dentists as I used to be someone who passed out after an oral injection. He was also very apologetic about that since he had to do it, and I would need to reschedule if I needed anesthesia since I didn't have anyone to drive me home afterward. During the procedure, I had my eyes closed imaging I was somewhere else and visualizing walking on a trail in the mountains, but when I got brave enough, I opened my eyes and I could see what he was doing in the reflection in his face shield. So this was a victory. I did fine all by myself, and later that day this kind oral surgeon called me to ask how I was doing. Having a compassionate doctor sure does help. My decision to go alone to the appointment was because I didn't want to have to worry about my husband being squemish about any of this and I was fine by myself.

OK, so now let's talk about the fear you have or being permanently disabled vs the fear of going through surgery. That is the same choice I had, and like you, I had the creative gift of doing my artwork that I was loosing because I could not control my arms anymore because of spine problem, and you have your music performance that is in jeopardy. Let's think of this another way....Love conquers fear..... I think we both want to participate in the arts for the same reason... Love.... because performing music is an act of love in doing it just like painting is an act of love expressing what inspired me. When you love something, you want to protect it. How many people do get to choose if they will be disabled or not? Some people never get a choice like this. Isn't that in itself a gift to have that choice to know that you have that power over your future? You will need help from a surgeon of course, but imagine how that will feel to be able to return to music performance and what you love.

You mentioned fearing the intubation. You won't feel that. It can give you a sore throat after surgery, but this is your lifeline to oxygen during surgery, so it is a very good thing. All the preparation is done after you are completely sedated, so you won't be aware of it. What is is about the tube that worries you? Do you think your leprechauns can help you out there too? An oh my... does this guy also sing and dance? What song would he sing and can he teach it to you? Maybe that tube will become a flute and can play a little song.

I have watched surgery videos too with some interest because I do have a biology degree. They can be frightening to watch when you start imagining it is happening to you. If you are feeling vulnerable like that, maybe don't watch. I do need to understand how everything works and what the surgeon is doing and for that, there are a lot of great animated videos that explain where everything looks neat and tidy.

Just remember, it is your choice. You choose the surgeon you hire for the job. You choose love over fear, and you choose to join your surgeon's team. That is how I thought about it because they can't do their jobs without me! You choose the path that leads toward ability, not disability, and you can take comfort in knowing you will be your own best friend.

Can you imagine some more games to keep your mind busy? Remember to breathe.......

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Replies to "@pianopain12 Karen, since you love music, there is a lot you can do to use music..."

Your words about fear are wise and they resonate with me. I've had countless "pep talks" with myself about fear, read books about fear, but nothing really made sense in a way that it changed my beliefs about fear. I never thought of it as an obstacle blocking my path to the life that I love. I had never considered that many people don't have the luxury of choice, when it comes to being disabled. It IS a gift to have choice. Absolutely. I also found your description of "the road to ability" versus "the road to disability" to be very enlightening. I AM on the road to disability. I had not considered it in those terms, but those terms are truth. I don't know how far down this road I have travelled, but I think that it is time for me to "turn around," so to speak, and go in another direction. What I am doing is NOT working for me. I laughed when I thought about my leprechaun singing. I have imagined him talking, when I had the MRI and he was banging on the tube. I actually told him aloud,"You must not be a very bright leprechaun. You can simply open the door and come in!" I did imagine him muttering in a lovely Irish brogue. I like the idea of the endoscope being a "magic flute." I have already decided to go see 2 other surgeons for advice. I just need to secure an appointment. I also read on your website that you asked your oral surgeon to tell you something about himself that had nothing to do with being an oral surgeon. That approach also makes sense, because we always feel more comfortable putting our trust in someone that we "know." I am rarely fearful when I have a physician/friend perform any procedure for me. I am able to direct my mind more toward the "friend" part of our relationship, than the physician role.Your words are helpful and liberating for me. I definitely will be asking more questions and getting more input from other surgeons. The choices are there, but I must be like my persistent leprechaun from the MRI, and knock on those doors! Thank you for sharing some of your experiences; many lives are touched.