How interesting that we have been discussing fainting anxiety here lately and how it’s been such a nuisance lately in my life.
I did have a nice little victory that I shared in a recent post, and well, here’s another one. (fyi- anxiety tests you again and again, it doesn’t usually just go away guys.)
The reality: I have never fainted in my life. Not once. But I have had fainting anxiety oh say about 2 bazillion times lol. Anxiety has a way of creeping into my life and morphing into ways to freak me out and interfere with my daily life. My mind is so creative that way.
But I’m on to it. I know this game. And I’m going to win.
The setting: The operating room- a huge anxiety trigger lately, people do faint there on occasion, so it freaks me out. Plus all doors are closed and everyone inside is supposed to stay there so as not to break the sterility of the room. To me this means I’m trapped.
The exception to this rule is that people do have to come in and out from time to time during an operation, whether it is a nurse, doctor, or technician. But for the most part the operating room is a closed area.
as I mentioned, I have been getting my butt in there little by little, observing operations during down time. This exercise has 2 benefits- one of course is I will overcome my fainting anxiety with repeated exposure, and 2, it will help me to eventually be able to cross train as an OR nurse, thereby earning more money where I work.
But this exposure is still in the early stages. Last week I had a full blown fainting anxiety freak out session in the operating room, but I was able to use my anxiety self help skills to come out the winner.
Ok so back to the latest episode:
While in the operating room one of the surgical technicians asked if I could help her with counting instruments. This is a 2 person job, to verify that everything that is set out on before the operation begins is accounted for once the operation is over.
It is super important, and this count is done 3 times in every operation. I did the first count with the scrub tech as we were preparing the room.
You should know that there are tons of instruments that are set out for even the smallest of operations. So doing this count takes several minutes.
As the operation was coming to a close, I was silently congratulating myself for feeling mild fainting anxiety symptoms but still being able to hang in there and be ok. Even though I was only an observer at this point, my goal is to be able to stay in the room and not call any attention to myself, and of course not leave because of anxiety or a panic attack.
Then the scrub tech turned around and asked me, Hey Jill do you want to do the other 2 counts with me now, since we did the first one together?
Anxious Jill: Ok now I’m really in for it. Instant panic attack. God damn it. My heart is racing a million miles an hour.
Then the surgeon needed the tech so she turns back to assist him while I get the clipboard with the count register on it.
It is in this moment that I feel completely trapped. I am in the middle of this count and I cannot leave. My anxiety kicks into overdrive and I immediately start hyperventilating. My heart is racing and I can barely talk. I know I will faint.
The tech turns back to me and we begin:
Jill: “Kelly clamps (gasp).. One… two… three….four…” etc
“Retractors- One…two…(gasp) three….four….five….etc..
Oh my God I am so dizzy, I’m hot I’m going to keel over onto the sterile table and everyone will kill me. I’ll be a laughing stock.
“Curved Kocher clamps …One… two… three… four…”
Crap this is taking forever! I gotta get out of here!!
The surgeon needed the tech again and I am left standing there, wobbling back and forth holding my clipboard sweating like I just did a 2 minute mile.
Ok reign in the thoughts. Stop it right now!! Pump your thigh muscle. Remember this works. Squeeze it till it hurts. Now relax it and pump the other one.
And breathe, goddamn it. Stop holding your breath. Slow, deep breaths. C’mon, this is not going to happen, it just feels like it will.
“Babcocks- One…two.. three…”etc…
That count seemed to go on for what felt like forever. In reality it was probably 5 or 6 minutes tops. Somewhere near the end of it, I started to believe what I was telling myself and I did start to feel better.
I left that room feeling very triumphant and proud.
Remember when you do it afraid, you will have to practice again and again. This is the way you make lasting behavioral changes. My fainting anxiety symptoms have become a bad habit, caused by my very creative over anxious thinking.
It would be really easy for me to be very flustered at this point because this anxiety symptoms keeps popping up. But I refuse to be the victim here. I am taking charge. I know that the more I face the fear, the better I will get.
This gradual exposure therapy combined with self help methods is the same process I used to re-learn how to go to church, go to the gym, go to the hairdresser, go grocery shopping, standing in line, driving on highways, going to parties etc. You name it.
How are you doing with your anxiety? How is it popping into your life lately?
I wish you peace,
How have I managed to come so far when I was anxious for so long? Simple, I use my Anxiety Self Help Road Map. I invite you to try this powerful method to put yourself in control of your fear- works like a charm.