People coming to have their surgery are often overcome with fear, and that’s very understandable. Some are pale and shaking due to the high levels of adrenaline in their bloodstream. Their heart rate and blood pressure are way above normal, their eyelids are retracted, their pupils large, and they are either inappropriately garrulous or deathly silent.

We used to give pre-medication to patients in order to make them more relaxed, but there were problems with this. Getting the dose right was difficult, it was given too early or too late, and it led to sickness and delayed waking at the end of the operation. The latter is very important in day-surgery, where the patient must go home at the end of the day. For all of these reasons, pre-meds have fallen out of fashion, and are reserved for especially difficult cases.

The weird thing is that anxiety is just about the worst state to be in prior to anaesthesia. Induction of anaesthesia is a very unstable time, which is made much more dangerous by anxiety and adrenaline which can cause an increased risk of myocardial stress, arrhythmias,  airway difficulties, raised metabolic rate and many other hazards. Fear is meant to protect us from danger, but when it increases our danger, there is something wrong. 

A good theatre team has the right interpersonal skills needed to meet a patient in their crisis, and impart to that person some impression that they are not having to face things all alone, that they are among friends who care, but who also know what they are about, and have long ingrained experience. This all has to be achieved in just the few minutes between the patient arriving in theatre, and the start of their anaesthetic.

Sometimes humour helps. Once, I told a patient that she seemed very anxious to me, and she confirmed my impression. “Well”, I said with a twinkle in my eye, “that’s a sure sign you are not a lunatic, then!” It worked, the spell was broken, she laughed and relaxed a bit.

The Bible contains several verses about anxiety:

Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up. (Proverbs 12:25)

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
(Matthew 6:27)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
(1 Peter 5:7)

These are the words we all need as pre-medication, as we approach the major operation called “the present moment” in our lives, however awful it might be. We may lose all control, but God never loses control. We must cast out from ourself all that prevents us from placing all our trust in Him. The Divine Mercy is infinite, after all.

Perfect Love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)

About Brother Burrito

A sinner who hopes in God's Mercy, and who cannot stop smiling since realizing that Christ IS the Way , the Truth and the Life. Alleluia!
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10 Responses to Anxiety

  1. If I ever have to have an op I’ll remember your description of what may happen if one is too stressed beforehand!
    I think it’s a natural state to be in, sometimes we are fearful which leads to anxiety. Prolonged stretches of anxiety may lead to the more debilitating depression. When someone has experienced prolonged periods of stress they are not inclined to pray. This is a difficult mindset to overcome.


  2. toadspittle says:

    “When someone has experienced prolonged periods of stress they are not inclined to pray. “
    Really? My experience is quite the opposite. Under stress, I pray like crazy.

    Anyway, to paraphrase FDR, “We have nothing to feel anxious about, but anxiety itself.”
    (I think that makes sense.)


  3. mmvc says:

    God bless you, BB! This post is perfectly timed for me. I have a minor op scheduled for next Monday afternoon (apparently just a whiff of anaesthesia for a 20 minute procedure) and I’m more terrified than I was before the major surgery I had last year! My bp skyrockets as soon as I see a white (or is it blue or green?) coat and no amount of deep breathing or praying seems to help…

    I’ll take the bible verses with me this time and hope the staff are blessed with a gsoh! 😉


  4. Brother Burrito says:

    1CS and Toad,

    The question to ask our fear, if we can detach from it long enough to ask it, is “What are you protecting me from?” There will be either a real or imaginary cause for fear.

    Anxiety neurosis is defined as purposeless anxiety. This is the diagnosis of those poor souls who spend their lives worrying about anything which may never happen. Their faces betray them.

    Pray for them and treat them kindly and gently. By God’s Grace, the spell on them will be broken.


  5. Brother Burrito says:


    May God be with you and protect you always.

    And we need you back here Tuesday morning 9am sharp! 😉


  6. mmvc says:

    Aye, aye, Captain! 🙂


  7. Thank you Brother Burrito. I really needed this post today, I was feeling anxious, and I was speaking to a friend about it, 5 minutes passed since I said the words “I feel anxious”.. and then I saw this post on my wordpress reader! God is wonderful!

    Thank you very much. I look forward to reading more posts from you.
    God bless you 🙂


  8. Ah, this is just lovely. Thank you 🙂

    Also, another really famous one is of course, “Pray, hope and don’t worry” form good ol’ Padre Pio. I always think of that one. He knew so much and yet he said don’t worry, so…don’t worry!


  9. Also, oh my goodness, I am so glad that embracingourfemininity posted a comment here, because now I have discovered your blog *proceeds to read every post*!


  10. Brother Burrito says:

    I am no fan of Radio 4, Robin Ince or Prof. Brian Cox but in fairness I must recommend this podcast on “Risk”.

    It is light-hearted but informative.


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