Dealing With Surgical Delays
The prospect of having to undergo surgery is enough to frighten anybody and it can cause a lot of stress. In fact, it’s often the psychological aspect of having to come to terms with the reality that you need an operation that is the most difficult thing to come to terms with, even though most of us will accept that surgery is necessary if we are to get better.
However, when an operation is delayed or postponed, the anxiety can become almost unbearable as you’re likely to have prepared yourself mentally as best you can for the operation then to be told it is going to be delayed or postponed only means that you’ll often need to go through more worry and then you’re faced with all the psychological preparation all over again.
Emotional Responses to a Surgical DelayAlthough some people may express relief that their surgery is going to be delayed, the vast majority will display a varied range of negative emotions. This is likely to be due mostly to the fact that they might already be experiencing pain and know that surgery is the solution to resolving that or else they’ll simply have prepared themselves psychologically for the surgery and now just want to get it over with. Emotional responses to delays in surgery can result in:
- Increased anxiety, fear and perhaps depression
- Anger and frustration
- Sleep disturbance
- Worry that their condition might worsen
The truth of the matter is that although we are all used to reading and seeing news stories about delays of hospital operations, if surgery is urgent, it’s very rarely delayed or postponed by the hospital if a patient’s health is likely to significantly deteriorate further.
More commonly, it will be routine operations which will be put back perhaps because of a shortage of beds or often surgery will be delayed because the patient hasn’t followed the necessary pre-operative instructions they’ve been given.
Coping With a Surgical DelayEveryone will react differently, and often negatively, to a surgical delay but it’s important that you try to remain positive. Coping strategies should include having a good support network of family and friends. Although they’ll not be able to directly help, being able to express your emotions to them and gaining support from them will be a great comfort.
It’s also important not to dwell on what you cannot change. Perhaps, you’d planned a holiday once you’d recovered from your operation. Well, just because your surgery is delayed shouldn’t mean that you can’t put back the date of your holiday and still work towards your goal of enjoying that once the surgery has been rescheduled.
Likewise, don’t dwell on what you can’t change but focus on the things you can. A delay in surgery might give you the opportunity to plan other things that you wouldn’t have been able to do if you’d been in hospital.
Don’t neglect your health either, both physically and emotionally. OK, you’ve had a setback because your operation has been delayed but you can’t change that now so you might as well remain positive and making the most of the present whilst, simultaneously, ensuring that you stay physically and mentally prepared and ready for when the surgery is rescheduled.
And, whilst it will be mostly down to your own attitude and outlook in terms of how you cope with the delay, don’t hesitate to visit your GP if you think that your condition is worsening or if you find you’re having trouble sleeping or suffering from increased anxiety or maybe even depression as your GP will be able to help you with this.