What happens when you’re forced to face the worst.
Ever since I was little, there was always one fun fact I would share for icebreakers: I am terrified of being put under anesthesia for surgery. While I have been told multiple times that this is a justified and rational fear (thank you to my therapist), it has never calmed me down. I finally had to deal with my fear this past summer.
Growing up, I had always been extra cautious, making sure someone else always went first down the slide at the playground, never jumping in bounce houses and rarely doing anything considered “dangerous.” All of this was because I was terrified of coming close to surgery and being put under anesthesia. Until this past summer, I had been successful—no broken bones, cardiac arrest or surgery ever. Well, spoiler alert: I now have a surgery under my belt!
In July, my dentist told me I needed to have my wisdom teeth removed immediately and that it was urgent. I think I almost blacked out from nerves after hearing him say this. Within two weeks, the surgery had been scheduled, and there was no getting out of it. I tried everything to get it out of my head – all of my anxiety surrounding the 40 minutes that I would be under anesthesia with people cutting holes in my mouth.
I had tried to talk to my friends and family who had had this surgery before to learn about everything that happened. I told myself that it wasn’t a big deal. I spent hours talking through it with my therapist, and I asked hundreds of questions to the surgeon to make sure nothing would go wrong. I even tried to gaslight myself into thinking it was just a routine dentist appointment. Surprisingly, none of that worked to calm my anxiety.
On the day of the surgery, my heart was beating out of my chest. I was shaking and sweating. I could barely talk. I almost had a panic attack that morning while swallowing the medications you have to take beforehand. When I was getting my vitals checked before the surgeon came in, my blood pressure and heart rate were so high that they had to distract me by playing One Direction songs through the speakers.
Another spoiler alert: it went fine. I do not even remember them putting the IV in for the anesthesia or waking up in pain. I did apparently blast One Direction on the car ride home at top volume, even when my mom tried to turn it down, while still feeling the effects of the pain medication.
Now, I’m not going to lie: I was in a lot of pain after the fact, and I was sick of eating only ice cream after the first two meals, but the surgery itself was fine. I do not think it cured my fear or anything, but it definitely allowed my mind to finally see what seemed like a big deal for what it really was.