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Overcoming fear of surgery: Roberto’s story

posted by

Allana Edwards

Overcoming fear of surgery: Roberto’s story

July 19, 2019

The Institute is committed to providing our patients with comprehensive, quality health care. We’re here to help our patients through whatever they may face. Roberto Gautier, 72, has been a patient with the Institute for more than 30 years. Recently, Roberto had surgery on his foot.  He wanted to share his story to thank his care team and to help others who may be afraid to have  surgery.

Roberto’s story:

“I had received various services with the Institute over the years, but nothing like this. In January 2019, I was scheduled to have foot surgery to correct a deformity in my toes and remove a bunion. I was very anxious about the surgery. It was going to be a life-changing surgery that would last 2 1/2 hours, and I would be immobile for some time following the procedure. My primary care provider, Dr. Robert “Red” Shiller, is someone I have known for many years. He has cared for members of my family, and we have always had a positive relationship. Dr. Shiller was able to explain the procedure and connect me with the services I needed to prepare.

My appointments leading up to my surgery were always successful. Dr. Shiller and the staff went out of their way to help me. I am truly grateful to Ms. Alexis Stack, my care navigator, who was aware of my concerns about the surgery. She connected me with a counselor who helped me understand why I was afraid to have surgery and teach me how to deal with it. My counselor, Ms. Sarah Ganzer, was patient, detail-oriented and non-judgmental. I was afraid of the medications, anesthesia, and pain. With her help, coupled with the support of my wife, I was able to work through my fear so I could have the surgery I needed.

I also decided to keep a diary on my phone, which I recommend to others who are anxious about having surgery. I looked into how Navy Seals prepare for their missions with breathing and mindfulness exercises and I created a series of exercises that I could do in bed, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to put weight on my right foot for at least 2 months. I also can’t stress enough the value of sharing your fears and concerns with loved ones and friends.”

Roberto hopes to encourage others who may be anxious about surgery to talk to their care team and use the services available at the Institute.

“There are good people at the Institute,” Roberto said. “The quality time I spent with this team was very helpful to me.”

If you or someone you love needs access to excellent primary care to take control of your health, please contact your nearest health center to make an appointment today.