Kota1000

2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2017
768
428
Hey!
Im sorry if this is the wrong place to post, but I have had a problem since last summer. I was holding a patient during surgery, it was a lipoma removal, which for some reason is the only surgery that ever bothers me. Unfortunately the AC was broken so the surgery room was super hot, and I had not eaten breakfast that morning (big L), and I have a heart condition that was freaking out due to lack of sleep. So long story short, I fainted and hit my head really hard. I got a concussion, cracked my skull and threw up for 3 days afterwards. This summer I am (hopefully) going to work as a veterinary assistant again, but I am super nervous about seeing surgery again or helping with anything during surgery. I had seen tons of surgeries before, so I do not think it was watching the surgery that made me faint, but a combination of things; however, I have severe anxiety anytime I have to go into the surgery suite to grab anything. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to reduce my anxiety about surgery so it does not compromise my work this summer.

To note, I am in undergrad, so I am not actually doing anything surgery wise, but sometimes I hold books/diagrams for the Dr's if it is a complex procedure they do not often do, or I help the techs with their part in the surgery, so I often have to watch the surgeries. Also, a lot of times I have to assist with after hour emergencies, as I also work in boarding so am usually the only one in the clinic after hours.

Thanks!
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

mmmdreamerz

c/o 2021
5+ Year Member
Dec 7, 2014
4,653
5,840
villager chat
Status (Visible)
  1. Veterinary Student
First off, I’m so sorry that happened to you! That’s a pretty traumatic experience and I can’t blame you for being nervous/anxious thereafter.

Second, definitely don’t feel like you are the only one...lots of people experience lightheadedness in similar situations when they are new to watching surgeries.

The big rules:
1) eat breakfast! Seriously. This is huge.
2) bend your knees...stiffening makes everything worse
3) be honest and tell someone if you feel sick...don’t try to tough it out if your feeling lightheaded! That is definitely how you get hurt.

You can also try YouTubing various procedures...it’s a little different in the moment, but it might help with exposure and making you less nervous!
 
  • Like
Reactions: 8 users

battie

U of I c/o 2021
7+ Year Member
Nov 22, 2013
5,317
8,394
Perpetual state of disarray
Status (Visible)
  1. Veterinary Student
Hey! I also fainted in a vet's office while shadowing, which lead to us figuring out that it stemmed from a heart condition.

What I did for my surgeries this year was shifting my feet so I'm not standing still and getting stiff, I ate a real breakfast, and drank a moderate amount of water so I didnt get dehydrated and dizzy from that. Never even got lightheaded!
 
  • Like
Reactions: 3 users
About the Ads

Kota1000

2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2017
768
428
First off, I’m so sorry that happened to you! That’s a pretty traumatic experience and I can’t blame you for being nervous/anxious thereafter.

Second, definitely don’t feel like you are the only one...lots of people experience lightheadedness in similar situations when they are new to watching surgeries.

The big rules:
1) eat breakfast! Seriously. This is huge.
2) bend your knees...stiffening makes everything worse
3) be honest and tell someone if you feel sick...don’t try to tough it out if your feeling lightheaded! That is definitely how you get hurt.

You can also try YouTubing various procedures...it’s a little different in the moment, but it might help with exposure and making you less nervous!
Hey! I also fainted in a vet's office while shadowing, which lead to us figuring out that it stemmed from a heart condition.

What I did for my surgeries this year was shifting my feet so I'm not standing still and getting stiff, I ate a real breakfast, and drank a moderate amount of water so I didnt get dehydrated and dizzy from that. Never even got lightheaded!

Thank you to both of you! Surprisingly I have been watching surgeries for like 5 years prior, and that was the only time I fainted haha. I will definitely remember to always eat breakfast and drink a ton of water. I have PVC's so I get light headed a lot, especially if I do any sudden movements or go from standing to sitting quickly, but water usually helps for that as well. It was definitely a scary experience! Everyone has been saying I just need to do desensitivity, so I have been watching surgery videos on YT, and I follow various surgery vets on social media.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

SkiOtter

c/o 2022
2+ Year Member
Mar 10, 2016
17,863
26,104
Status (Visible)
  1. Veterinary Student
I second 3m’s and bats’ suggestions. ANY vet would rather you sit yourself on the floor of the surgery suite than fall and pass out. If you are starting to feel lightheaded ask for a break and go find a seat to sit in for a bit. What helps me when I get lightheaded (from other things) is sitting down and putting my head between my knees. If I don’t have a chair I’ll literally just stand with my feet like 3 ft apart and put my head down between my knees and just stand like that until I feel better.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

SkiOtter

c/o 2022
2+ Year Member
Mar 10, 2016
17,863
26,104
Status (Visible)
  1. Veterinary Student
Also being able to leave the room and get a snack or some sugar (like a candy bar or pixie stick) can help
 

Kota1000

2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2017
768
428
I second 3m’s and bats’ suggestions. ANY vet would rather you sit yourself on the floor of the surgery suite than fall and pass out. If you are starting to feel lightheaded ask for a break and go find a seat to sit in for a bit. What helps me when I get lightheaded (from other things) is sitting down and putting my head between my knees. If I don’t have a chair I’ll literally just stand with my feet like 3 ft apart and put my head down between my knees and just stand like that until I feel better.

Thank you! Since I had never fainted before, I thought it was just my usual light headedness, but then I woke up on the floor.

Unfortunately, I have isomaltase-sucrase deficiency so I can't eat any time of sugar, and I am gluten free. The vet gave me a soda after I fainted, and since I couldn't see very well cause my head was spinning I drank it, so that probably didn't help my stomach too much.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

SkiOtter

c/o 2022
2+ Year Member
Mar 10, 2016
17,863
26,104
Status (Visible)
  1. Veterinary Student
Thank you! Since I had never fainted before, I thought it was just my usual light headedness, but then I woke up on the floor.

Unfortunately, I have isomaltase-sucrase deficiency so I can't eat any time of sugar, and I am gluten free. The vet gave me a soda after I fainted, and since I couldn't see very well cause my head was spinning I drank it, so that probably didn't help my stomach too much.
Oh damn that sounds like a not super fun time
 
  • Like
Reactions: 2 users

Cephal0pod

c/o 2020
10+ Year Member
Nov 16, 2010
1,402
1,884
USA
Status (Visible)
  1. Veterinarian
So, so sorry that happened to you. Please know that I can't think of a single person I know who has not almost passed out or actually passed out during surgery at least once or twice at some point during their careers. You are far from alone, and it's nothing to beat yourself up about or anything like that.

I also want to note that you had a particularly traumatic experience, so it makes sense that it would take some time to recover from that. Try to give yourself some grace there, too.

How do you feel when you are around patients who are being prepped for surgery? I don't know what your responsibilities typically look like as an assistant at your clinic, but maybe you could talk with the techs you work with about helping them prep patients/get the patients into the surgery suite? This might be another way to help yourself transition into feeling more comfortable around the surgery process, without being directly in the surgery itself?
 
  • Like
Reactions: 5 users

Kota1000

2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2017
768
428
So, so sorry that happened to you. Please know that I can't think of a single person I know who has not almost passed out or actually passed out during surgery at least once or twice at some point during their careers. You are far from alone, and it's nothing to beat yourself up about or anything like that.

I also want to note that you had a particularly traumatic experience, so it makes sense that it would take some time to recover from that. Try to give yourself some grace there, too.

How do you feel when you are around patients who are being prepped for surgery? I don't know what your responsibilities typically look like as an assistant at your clinic, but maybe you could talk with the techs you work with about helping them prep patients/get the patients into the surgery suite? This might be another way to help yourself transition into feeling more comfortable around the surgery process, without being directly in the surgery itself?

Pre and post op care has not seemed to bother me, and caring for patients in the hospital or who are staying over night post-surgery does not bother me. As an assistant, I mainly hold animals, get together prescriptions, do post op care, take notes for the drs, write patient info on the white board, and various cleaning and sterilization.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

battie

U of I c/o 2021
7+ Year Member
Nov 22, 2013
5,317
8,394
Perpetual state of disarray
Status (Visible)
  1. Veterinary Student
I have PVC's so I get light headed a lot, especially if I do any sudden movements or go from standing to sitting quickly, but water usually helps for that as well.

Mine is nuerocardiogenic syncope! This doesnt sound like a sensitization issue since you've been helping out with surgery for a long time.
 

Kota1000

2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2017
768
428
Mine is nuerocardiogenic syncope! This doesnt sound like a sensitization issue since you've been helping out with surgery for a long time.

Wow! Thats kinda neat, scary, but neat. I just have PVC's, but I also have COPD so I do not have very good oxygen circulation to begin with.
 

battie

U of I c/o 2021
7+ Year Member
Nov 22, 2013
5,317
8,394
Perpetual state of disarray
Status (Visible)
  1. Veterinary Student
Wow! Thats kinda neat, scary, but neat. I just have PVC's, but I also have COPD so I do not have very good oxygen circulation to begin with.

My blood pressure tanks if I stand still for too long, and it's already low to begin with. The ECG was pretty neat. ;) My PCP was really helpful in thinking up strategies to prevent it happening again. Not sure if you've talked to yours yet, but might be worth a shot!
 
About the Ads

BigCats

1-800-IMA-WOLF
2+ Year Member
Dec 19, 2018
2,329
2,343
So sorry that happened to you!! I’m prone to low blood pressure and haven’t passed out during a surgery yet, though I’ve come close a few times especially when it’s hot. Definitely try to set yourself up for success- I know that I’m less anxious about potentially stressful situations when I know I’ve done as much as I could to prepare for them, so I’ll eat a good breakfast, drink plenty of water, and eat salty snacks like potato chips beforehand. Especially since you’re negatively conditioned to it now (and for good reason!), going in with a game plan (ex. I’ll eat a handful of chips beforehand, I’ll keep my knees moving so they don’t lock) will help you be less stressed when you do go into surgery.

Also this is a little weird lol but sometimes I’ll do a bit of operant conditioning on myself- for instance in your case, I’d go into the surgery room when no surgeries are going on, just stand there and take a few breaths while noting any physical reactions (relax my stomach if it’s tense, be aware of whether my breathing speeds up, etc), and then my “reward” part of this is to softly rub the inside of my forearm with my thumb for a second (basically my version of clicker training lol) and then remove the stressor- i.e. leave the room. I broke my hip falling off a horse who spooked in the corner of the arena, and it took me a while once I got back into riding to be able to ride past that corner without tensing or avoiding it- I had to make a deliberate effort to relax my body and expose myself to the stressful scenario so that I could build up more positive experiences to replace the one negative one. It feels totally silly, but patting myself and thinking to myself “good job” each time I did the scary thing was instrumental in helping me build back up my confidence after a similarly traumatic event to yours. Set yourself up for success and celebrate the small victories and you’ll be back to normal before you know it!
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Trilt

puppy snuggler extraordinaire
10+ Year Member
Feb 10, 2008
11,621
22,603
NC
Status (Visible)
  1. Veterinarian
I am one of the least anxious people I know, fine with gore, never have problems with overheating (like, I'm basically a lizard and love 80-90s with humidity) and have been a full fledged vet for a couple years now after volunteering and working in the field for the decade prior... and *I* walked into our ICU a couple months ago to a dog CRUNCH-CRUNCHING on her recently stillborn puppy and almost hit the floor. Like, walked out of ICU to my chair and my boss asked me if I was okay because I was so white and wobbly.

**** happens. All you can do is fix deficiencies (like above - eat breakfast, don't lock knees, make sure you're well hydrated) and be aware of warning signs and don't try to push through. I'd 100% prefer an assistant tell me "I really need to sit down" ten times and hand off the restraint than let go of whatever they're doing because they've just passed out once, haha.

The best thing you can do is just keep doing surgery things to find a comfort zone vs. avoiding it and getting your anxiety riled up over and over again. Totally agree with BigCats' post.
 
  • Like
  • Wow
Reactions: 2 users

Kota1000

2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2017
768
428
My blood pressure tanks if I stand still for too long, and it's already low to begin with. The ECG was pretty neat. ;) My PCP was really helpful in thinking up strategies to prevent it happening again. Not sure if you've talked to yours yet, but might be worth a shot!

My PCP is from Russia and is very unconventional i.e. wouldn't prescribe me birth control because I was on too many meds for various health reasons, or wouldn't give me a neuro referral cause I saw too many specialists and I only had 1 symptom; unfortunately she was the only pediatric care provider who would take me cause I'm a complicated case, but not that I'm 18 I can switch to an adult PCP, YAY!

So sorry that happened to you!! I’m prone to low blood pressure and haven’t passed out during a surgery yet, though I’ve come close a few times especially when it’s hot. Definitely try to set yourself up for success- I know that I’m less anxious about potentially stressful situations when I know I’ve done as much as I could to prepare for them, so I’ll eat a good breakfast, drink plenty of water, and eat salty snacks like potato chips beforehand. Especially since you’re negatively conditioned to it now (and for good reason!), going in with a game plan (ex. I’ll eat a handful of chips beforehand, I’ll keep my knees moving so they don’t lock) will help you be less stressed when you do go into surgery.

Also this is a little weird lol but sometimes I’ll do a bit of operant conditioning on myself- for instance in your case, I’d go into the surgery room when no surgeries are going on, just stand there and take a few breaths while noting any physical reactions (relax my stomach if it’s tense, be aware of whether my breathing speeds up, etc), and then my “reward” part of this is to softly rub the inside of my forearm with my thumb for a second (basically my version of clicker training lol) and then remove the stressor- i.e. leave the room. I broke my hip falling off a horse who spooked in the corner of the arena, and it took me a while once I got back into riding to be able to ride past that corner without tensing or avoiding it- I had to make a deliberate effort to relax my body and expose myself to the stressful scenario so that I could build up more positive experiences to replace the one negative one. It feels totally silly, but patting myself and thinking to myself “good job” each time I did the scary thing was instrumental in helping me build back up my confidence after a similarly traumatic event to yours. Set yourself up for success and celebrate the small victories and you’ll be back to normal before you know it!

Aw thank you! Heat is definitely a big factor for me, I much rather prefer colder temps. I will definitely try operant conditioning! Thanks for the suggestion. Now that my clinic isn't doing routine surgeries there often isn't much going on surgery wise, just a few emergencies every week.

I am one of the least anxious people I know, fine with gore, never have problems with overheating (like, I'm basically a lizard and love 80-90s with humidity) and have been a full fledged vet for a couple years now after volunteering and working in the field for the decade prior... and *I* walked into our ICU a couple months ago to a dog CRUNCH-CRUNCHING on her recently stillborn puppy and almost hit the floor. Like, walked out of ICU to my chair and my boss asked me if I was okay because I was so white and wobbly.

**** happens. All you can do is fix deficiencies (like above - eat breakfast, don't lock knees, make sure you're well hydrated) and be aware of warning signs and don't try to push through. I'd 100% prefer an assistant tell me "I really need to sit down" ten times and hand off the restraint than let go of whatever they're doing because they've just passed out once, haha.

The best thing you can do is just keep doing surgery things to find a comfort zone vs. avoiding it and getting your anxiety riled up over and over again. Totally agree with BigCats' post.

Wow your lucky! I hate temps above 70 outdoors, and would prefer 50's- low 60's indoors haha. Thanks for the suggestions, I am hopeful that once surgeries restart again I will be able to slowly reintroduce stuff and find methods to help me avoid future dizziness should it occur.
 

PippyPony

not a wolf
7+ Year Member
May 24, 2013
20,768
26,765
dead chat
Status (Visible)
  1. Veterinary Student
@SARdoghandler has some great tips!

...and I know she has great tips because they helped me. I had never had any major problem with surgeries before this year, but almost passed out face down into a dog's abdomen during my first dog spay last fall. Since then I have had multiple near misses, including one in a lecture class on ophtho surgeries that came up out of nowhere lol.

I'm so sorry you had that experience! Don't feel alone -- it happens to lots of people.

As 3M said, definitely tell someone IMMEDIATELY when/if you feel woozy again. I was horribly embarrassed when it happened to me and wanted to push through & finish closing the incision, but because I mumbled something along the lines of "wow kinda room squiggly-ish all of a sudden...?" one of our amazing techs was able to get a rolling chair underneath me & get me out of the room before I broke the sterile field.

Videos may help; I think for some people though, the smell and direct visual image of a lot of blood is what gets to them. I'm not sure what might help for that...but if you want to get real intense with the exposure therapy, butchers will sometimes sell pig's blood. And you can like, heat it up.*

I had to spay another dog the next day, and here are the things I changed:

- I ditched the high collared scrub top style I wore the first day (RIP figs, I still love you) in favor of a style that had more breathing room
- I chugged a bunch of water, which was a bit of a pain because more restroom trips leading up to surgery, but still worth it
- Ate a protein-filled breakfast
- Stood AWAY from the table as much as possible during surgery and even slightly angled my body away at times. This was a big one, because I realized I had been leaning up against the hot water bed underneath my patient, which was making my torso super hot. Bad bad.
- I take a medication that can lead to hypotension, so I cut the dose a little bit that one morning (insert disclaimers about not doing anything similar without consulting your doctor)

Made it through the second one with only ~5 seconds of blurry vision.

I also have a lot of thoughts about managing anxiety in general -- PM me if you would like to chat in more detail.

*I swear I'm not a serial killer. I have Irish heritage and I love black pudding, and I've thought about trying to make some, with the added bonus of potentially being therapeutic exercise lol.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 2 users

ajs513

PennVet c/o 2023
2+ Year Member
Feb 15, 2018
1,619
2,897
Philadelphia
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Veterinary
As someone who is an anxious mess except for when it matters, there are some really great tips that have already been said. So I just wanted to add one thing that really helps me. When I feel kind of funny, I like to figure out if it’s actually anxiety. If I can determine that it’s definitely anxiety, then I can use all of my tools for managing it.

My anxiety usually manifests itself initially in not being able to take a deep breath. So I breathe in as deeply as I can. If I can’t quite breathe in all the way but it doesn’t hurt or make me feel like I’m going to cough, then I know it’s anxiety. Once I have that figured out, I can do things like grounding myself (basically bringing yourself back down to earth by noticing things around you), mindfulness, breathing, etc. Even if other symptoms are occurring as a result of something else, taking away the symptoms that are a result of anxiety make the other ones much easier to handle.
 

mmmdreamerz

c/o 2021
5+ Year Member
Dec 7, 2014
4,653
5,840
villager chat
Status (Visible)
  1. Veterinary Student
@SARdoghandler has some great tips!

...and I know she has great tips because they helped me. I had never had any major problem with surgeries before this year, but almost passed out face down into a dog's abdomen during my first dog spay last fall. Since then I have had multiple near misses, including one in a lecture class on ophtho surgeries that came up out of nowhere lol.

I'm so sorry you had that experience! Don't feel alone -- it happens to lots of people.

As 3M said, definitely tell someone IMMEDIATELY when/if you feel woozy again. I was horribly embarrassed when it happened to me and wanted to push through & finish closing the incision, but because I mumbled something along the lines of "wow kinda room squiggly-ish all of a sudden...?" one of our amazing techs was able to get a rolling chair underneath me & get me out of the room before I broke the sterile field.

Videos may help; I think for some people though, the smell and direct visual image of a lot of blood is what gets to them. I'm not sure what might help for that...but if you want to get real intense with the exposure therapy, butchers will sometimes sell pig's blood. And you can like, heat it up.*

I had to spay another dog the next day, and here are the things I changed:

- I ditched the high collared scrub top style I wore the first day (RIP figs, I still love you) in favor of a style that had more breathing room
- I chugged a bunch of water, which was a bit of a pain because more restroom trips leading up to surgery, but still worth it
- Ate a protein-filled breakfast
- Stood AWAY from the table as much as possible during surgery and even slightly angled my body away at times. This was a big one, because I realized I had been leaning up against the hot water bed underneath my patient, which was making my torso super hot. Bad bad.
- I take a medication that can lead to hypotension, so I cut the dose a little bit that one morning (insert disclaimers about not doing anything similar without consulting your doctor)

Made it through the second one with only ~5 seconds of blurry vision.

I also have a lot of thoughts about managing anxiety in general -- PM me if you would like to chat in more detail.

*I swear I'm not a serial killer. I have Irish heritage and I love black pudding, and I've thought about trying to make some, with the added bonus of potentially being therapeutic exercise lol.

part of me wanted to laugh react: re: rip figs and serial killer comment

but then didn’t think that would be appropriate lol
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 3 users

Kota1000

2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2017
768
428
@SARdoghandler has some great tips!

...and I know she has great tips because they helped me. I had never had any major problem with surgeries before this year, but almost passed out face down into a dog's abdomen during my first dog spay last fall. Since then I have had multiple near misses, including one in a lecture class on ophtho surgeries that came up out of nowhere lol.

I'm so sorry you had that experience! Don't feel alone -- it happens to lots of people.

As 3M said, definitely tell someone IMMEDIATELY when/if you feel woozy again. I was horribly embarrassed when it happened to me and wanted to push through & finish closing the incision, but because I mumbled something along the lines of "wow kinda room squiggly-ish all of a sudden...?" one of our amazing techs was able to get a rolling chair underneath me & get me out of the room before I broke the sterile field.

Videos may help; I think for some people though, the smell and direct visual image of a lot of blood is what gets to them. I'm not sure what might help for that...but if you want to get real intense with the exposure therapy, butchers will sometimes sell pig's blood. And you can like, heat it up.*

I had to spay another dog the next day, and here are the things I changed:

- I ditched the high collared scrub top style I wore the first day (RIP figs, I still love you) in favor of a style that had more breathing room
- I chugged a bunch of water, which was a bit of a pain because more restroom trips leading up to surgery, but still worth it
- Ate a protein-filled breakfast
- Stood AWAY from the table as much as possible during surgery and even slightly angled my body away at times. This was a big one, because I realized I had been leaning up against the hot water bed underneath my patient, which was making my torso super hot. Bad bad.
- I take a medication that can lead to hypotension, so I cut the dose a little bit that one morning (insert disclaimers about not doing anything similar without consulting your doctor)

Made it through the second one with only ~5 seconds of blurry vision.

I also have a lot of thoughts about managing anxiety in general -- PM me if you would like to chat in more detail.

*I swear I'm not a serial killer. I have Irish heritage and I love black pudding, and I've thought about trying to make some, with the added bonus of potentially being therapeutic exercise lol.

Thank you for sharing your experience! I definitely think it probably had something to do with the smell of blood since it was a warm day and a small surgery room with not much air flow. Although, if my stomach or intestines are bothering me with a new food or something I eat too much of, even watching greys anatomy or thinking about ER/survery vet med cases I’ve seen has been making me woozy since I changed up my diet. I am hoping my GI tract will adjust by June.

Unfortunately my fainting was very much a surprise, so I didn’t know that was going to happen. As I said earlier sometimes I get dizzy by quick movements or also if I am standing too long due to poor oxygen, so I didn’t know that was what was happening.

I don’t have hypotension, but I’ve had experiences with hypertension and hypoglycemia due to my messed up digestive tract, so not eating breakfast probably wasn’t a good idea.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

mmmdreamerz

c/o 2021
5+ Year Member
Dec 7, 2014
4,653
5,840
villager chat
Status (Visible)
  1. Veterinary Student
I want to re-emphasize the breakfast thing...surgery is my favorite like ever (other than maybe my dog and possibly my family members lol), but I have learned from experience that no one wants me cutting anything without food in my stomach, even if I’m “not hungry.“ It really does make a huge difference. I have a feeling that if you hadn’t eaten anything when that happened to you, it might be a big factor too!

also warm surgery rooms = no bueno
 
  • Like
Reactions: 4 users

Kota1000

2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2017
768
428
As someone who is an anxious mess except for when it matters, there are some really great tips that have already been said. So I just wanted to add one thing that really helps me. When I feel kind of funny, I like to figure out if it’s actually anxiety. If I can determine that it’s definitely anxiety, then I can use all of my tools for managing it.

My anxiety usually manifests itself initially in not being able to take a deep breath. So I breathe in as deeply as I can. If I can’t quite breathe in all the way but it doesn’t hurt or make me feel like I’m going to cough, then I know it’s anxiety. Once I have that figured out, I can do things like grounding myself (basically bringing yourself back down to earth by noticing things around you), mindfulness, breathing, etc. Even if other symptoms are occurring as a result of something else, taking away the symptoms that are a result of anxiety make the other ones much easier to handle.

Thank you for the suggestion! I noticed my anxiety causes me to hyperventilate and elevate my PVCs, to the point that I had to go to the ER and get steroids this past summer. I had never had bad anxiety before 2019, but a lot of stuff happened prior to my fainting that also brought on anxiety (My grandma got cancer and passed very quickly, and we had to put my beloved dog down, and afterwards in fall my aunt passed away), so I’ve been taking Sertraline and sometimes Promethazine, but both affect my school performance, so I’ve been just doing the sertraline.




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

PippyPony

not a wolf
7+ Year Member
May 24, 2013
20,768
26,765
dead chat
Status (Visible)
  1. Veterinary Student
Unfortunately my fainting was very much a surprise, so I didn’t know that was going to happen. As I said earlier sometimes I get dizzy by quick movements or also if I am standing too long due to poor oxygen, so I didn’t know that was what was happening.
Oh sorry, I didn't mean to imply you would know or that you did anything wrong! If this was a voluntary thing that people could control, they would just... not do it. lol

Now that it has happened though, it may (or may not) come on more slowly, so I was just seconding the advice to avoid trying to be brave. It's a physical response, so it's not something worth trying to power through (if your body even gives you enough time to try to negotiate, which is not always the case.)
 
  • Like
Reactions: 2 users
About the Ads

Kota1000

2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2017
768
428
Oh sorry, I didn't mean to imply you would know or that you did anything wrong! If this was a voluntary thing that people could control, they would just... not do it. lol

Now that it has happened though, it may (or may not) come on more slowly, so I was just seconding the advice to avoid trying to be brave. It's a physical response, so it's not something worth trying to power through (if your body even gives you enough time to try to negotiate, which is not always the case.)

I didn’t think you were! I just didn’t want everyone to think I was avoiding telling someone for no reason. Now that I know, I’ll be able to recognize it in the future hopefully.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

SARdoghandler

something something legend
5+ Year Member
Feb 23, 2016
4,700
7,763
Swimming an hour east of New York
Status (Visible)
  1. Veterinarian
@SARdoghandler has some great tips!

...and I know she has great tips because they helped me. I had never had any major problem with surgeries before this year, but almost passed out face down into a dog's abdomen during my first dog spay last fall. Since then I have had multiple near misses, including one in a lecture class on ophtho surgeries that came up out of nowhere lol.

I'm so sorry you had that experience! Don't feel alone -- it happens to lots of people.

As 3M said, definitely tell someone IMMEDIATELY when/if you feel woozy again. I was horribly embarrassed when it happened to me and wanted to push through & finish closing the incision, but because I mumbled something along the lines of "wow kinda room squiggly-ish all of a sudden...?" one of our amazing techs was able to get a rolling chair underneath me & get me out of the room before I broke the sterile field.

Videos may help; I think for some people though, the smell and direct visual image of a lot of blood is what gets to them. I'm not sure what might help for that...but if you want to get real intense with the exposure therapy, butchers will sometimes sell pig's blood. And you can like, heat it up.*

I had to spay another dog the next day, and here are the things I changed:

- I ditched the high collared scrub top style I wore the first day (RIP figs, I still love you) in favor of a style that had more breathing room
- I chugged a bunch of water, which was a bit of a pain because more restroom trips leading up to surgery, but still worth it
- Ate a protein-filled breakfast
- Stood AWAY from the table as much as possible during surgery and even slightly angled my body away at times. This was a big one, because I realized I had been leaning up against the hot water bed underneath my patient, which was making my torso super hot. Bad bad.
- I take a medication that can lead to hypotension, so I cut the dose a little bit that one morning (insert disclaimers about not doing anything similar without consulting your doctor)

Made it through the second one with only ~5 seconds of blurry vision.

I also have a lot of thoughts about managing anxiety in general -- PM me if you would like to chat in more detail.

*I swear I'm not a serial killer. I have Irish heritage and I love black pudding, and I've thought about trying to make some, with the added bonus of potentially being therapeutic exercise lol.

Hello yes I am a physiologic (vs psychologic) surgery fainter for many reasons. The main ones are being a low tolerance to heat, poor circulation, and low blood pressure (partially due to anti shakes meds I have to take, so it's a balancing act). So I can talk to how to physiologically set you up for success where lots of people have given you great advice for the psychological aspect of things already. I did 6 surgeries in one day semi recently and managed myself completely successfully so you can do it!

Here are the main things you will want to consider:

1. Already discussed, but eat breakfast. Experiment on what works best for you. I find something carb heavy works best for me for some reason and so my go to is lightly sweetened oatmeal. Some people need heavy protein. It's up to what your body decides is it's best fuel. Then, have snacks that can fuel this in a diet appropriate way that you can slam in 5 seconds if need be. If you're having a fainty day when you get to doing multiple surgeries back the back, these will be what you pound back between each one (and good to figure this out now, before you have to be doing multiple surgeries in a row yourself).

2. Compression knee socks or tights. Get you some. I get away with knee highs made for nurses. I have a classmate who has customs from a pharmacy that are full waist high tights. Again, personal preference and you can start cheaper (like my socks) and then address if you need the full tights later. This will help keep your blood out of your legs.

3. Cooling vest. You can get these to go under or over your scrubs and put ice packs in them. I don't quite need this unless very hot (if need be, I'll do the cold towel on the neck) but again, I have a classmate who uses this for every surgery. Keeps you cool under your gown and super easy to use.

4. And this was the KEY for me. Learn pilot leg stretches. Basically you cross your feet and squeeze every muscle group one at a time working up your legs all the way to your butt. This helps get your blood back to your head. Get good at these. Do them all the time. Get so good at them that you do them without thinking. I do these almost constantly while doing surgery. They are best done before you get fainty. These are what made the biggest difference for me and they can usually pull me out of a fainty spell if I catch any early warning signs too.

I think that's the majority of my tricks for conforming your body to your will. It made all the difference for me, and gives me a plan going into surgery. Learning these things now before doing vet school surgeries will be hugely beneficial to you because it's hard to remember to manage yourself when you are also stressed about actually doing surgery. If you have any other questions about these tips, just let me know!

Also, Pippy, I'm so glad that you found my tips helpful. I learned them all from other students at my school who are fainters and I'm so glad that I can pass them on to others :love:
 
  • Like
  • Love
Reactions: 7 users

LetItSnow

Skipping the light fandango
10+ Year Member
Jan 13, 2011
19,359
18,896
Plymouth, MN, USA
animaltracks.wordpress.com
Status (Visible)
  1. Veterinarian
I think you got a lot of good advice ....

... but one add'l piece: The pressure to feel like you have to get over the anxiety can be anxiety-inducing in itself and just make the problem worse.

You're anxious about going into surgery (or the surgery suite, whatever). Ok. So?

That's ok. It's ok to be anxious. Give yourself permission to be anxious. Nobody is judging you for your anxiety.

I helped an intern through her first pyometra last summer. In a cat. It's about the easiest emergency surgical procedure you can do because it's basically just a cat spay with a fat uterus (most of the time, anyway - it's less often like a bad dog pyometra). Her hands were shaking, she was sweating, she kept getting mentally confused due to anxiety and stumbling around trying to figure out where to put her ligatures.

And she's a veterinarian already. And a decent one for where she was at. And it was STILL ok, because as far as I'm concerned - it's hard to not be nervous about doing things the first few times.

So let it go. You can be anxious. Don't fight it. Roll with it.
 
  • Like
  • Love
Reactions: 11 users

Kota1000

2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2017
768
428
[mention]SARdoghandler [/mention] thank you for the great advice! I definitely want to get a pre-surgery plan prior to vet school, I want to try and avoid being the anxiety induced classmate or fainter.

[mention]LetItSnow [/mention] I have noticed if I worry about being anxious, I get more anxious, so this is great to know.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

WildZoo

Illegal in all 50, Unyeetable Wolf
7+ Year Member
Apr 18, 2013
54,020
80,208
The doll factory
Status (Visible)
  1. Veterinarian
Hey!
Im sorry if this is the wrong place to post, but I have had a problem since last summer. I was holding a patient during surgery, it was a lipoma removal, which for some reason is the only surgery that ever bothers me. Unfortunately the AC was broken so the surgery room was super hot, and I had not eaten breakfast that morning (big L), and I have a heart condition that was freaking out due to lack of sleep. So long story short, I fainted and hit my head really hard. I got a concussion, cracked my skull and threw up for 3 days afterwards. This summer I am (hopefully) going to work as a veterinary assistant again, but I am super nervous about seeing surgery again or helping with anything during surgery. I had seen tons of surgeries before, so I do not think it was watching the surgery that made me faint, but a combination of things; however, I have severe anxiety anytime I have to go into the surgery suite to grab anything. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to reduce my anxiety about surgery so it does not compromise my work this summer.

To note, I am in undergrad, so I am not actually doing anything surgery wise, but sometimes I hold books/diagrams for the Dr's if it is a complex procedure they do not often do, or I help the techs with their part in the surgery, so I often have to watch the surgeries. Also, a lot of times I have to assist with after hour emergencies, as I also work in boarding so am usually the only one in the clinic after hours.

Thanks!
This reminds me so much of the first post I ever made on this site :) lots of good advice in here already, just wanted to chime in that you're not alone and I love surgery now and haven't had any issues watching or performing it in ages. And i attribute a lot of that to following advice similar to what you got here!
 
  • Like
Reactions: 2 users

Kota1000

2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2017
768
428
This reminds me so much of the first post I ever made on this site :) lots of good advice in here already, just wanted to chime in that you're not alone and I love surgery now and haven't had any issues watching or performing it in ages. And i attribute a lot of that to following advice similar to what you got here!

Thank you! This means a lot, it’s nice to know I’m not alone. I am confident it will get better, and I don’t want it to be a deterrent for my future career choice
 
  • Like
Reactions: 2 users

TheGirlWithTheFernTattoo

West Coast Best Coast c/o 2022
5+ Year Member
Dec 16, 2015
3,384
5,337
Status (Visible)
  1. Veterinary Student
Everyone has covered what I would have said. This is a super super informative post; any way we could get this one pinned somewhere at some point?

For me, it took about 6 months of watching surgery and needing to leave at least 3-4 times each surgery to go sit down before I could make it through one. I've never been a squeamish person, but the heat, breathing my own CO2 from the mask, and the lights would always do me in. (Plus windup from stressing about the fact that I might get light headed)
I've hit the floor once (and actually put a hole in the wall as I fell) from a dental. It was my first time working with that doctor. I was very embarrassed. No one else minded though, and just let me take things at my own pace until I could manage it.

I do second what LIS said about the anxiety making things worse. I can make myself feel like I'm going to black out just from wind-up. The other night I got called to scrub into a foreign body sx because the surgeon needed more hands. I hadn't eaten for 14 hours, or drank much water that shift. Also hadn't seen a surgery in a few months. I was really worried that I wasn't putting myself in a spot for success, and that worrying made me feel ill even though I haven't had an issue in surgery for over 3 years now. I got through it, mostly because once the surgery started I was able to focus on what was happening instead of getting stuck inside my own head.

From a psychological side, I feel that watching surgery gets easier the further along in your training you get. When I first started watching surgery, I didn't know enough besides some tissue types and organs. That allowed me to focus a lot more on how those looked, and the blood. Now when I watch surgery, I'm extremely busy finding my landmarks, analyzing if the location and tissues look normal, what type of suture pattern would be best and why, what suture material to use, and the best methods to handle the tissues. That analyzing makes it feel a lot more clinical and suddenly you just don't notice the rest of the stuff.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 3 users

itsrocky

Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride!
2+ Year Member
Nov 17, 2018
376
900
Everyone has covered what I would have said. This is a super super informative post; any way we could get this one pinned somewhere at some point?

For me, it took about 6 months of watching surgery and needing to leave at least 3-4 times each surgery to go sit down before I could make it through one. I've never been a squeamish person, but the heat, breathing my own CO2 from the mask, and the lights would always do me in. (Plus windup from stressing about the fact that I might get light headed)
I've hit the floor once (and actually put a hole in the wall as I fell) from a dental. It was my first time working with that doctor. I was very embarrassed. No one else minded though, and just let me take things at my own pace until I could manage it.

I do second what LIS said about the anxiety making things worse. I can make myself feel like I'm going to black out just from wind-up. The other night I got called to scrub into a foreign body sx because the surgeon needed more hands. I hadn't eaten for 14 hours, or drank much water that shift. Also hadn't seen a surgery in a few months. I was really worried that I wasn't putting myself in a spot for success, and that worrying made me feel ill even though I haven't had an issue in surgery for over 3 years now. I got through it, mostly because once the surgery started I was able to focus on what was happening instead of getting stuck inside my own head.

From a psychological side, I feel that watching surgery gets easier the further along in your training you get. When I first started watching surgery, I didn't know enough besides some tissue types and organs. That allowed me to focus a lot more on how those looked, and the blood. Now when I watch surgery, I'm extremely busy finding my landmarks, analyzing if the location and tissues look normal, what type of suture pattern would be best and why, what suture material to use, and the best methods to handle the tissues. That analyzing makes it feel a lot more clinical and suddenly you just don't notice the rest of the stuff.

The last paragraph is an excellent point. I had never thought of it that way but it’s so true.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 6 users

Kota1000

2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2017
768
428
Everyone has covered what I would have said. This is a super super informative post.

Thank you for your input! I can’t wait to get more experience this summer, which should be starting soon. Dentals are not my thing, I just hate teeth and mouths in general haha; I’ve never felt faint or dizzy around them, I just don’t like them.

I have gotten through surgery before perfectly fine, many of which have been internal which helps because I know my basic anatomy, so I sort of know what they’re doing on new surgeries. So I’m hoping as I see more I’ll be better at landmarks. I know the basics for spays and neuters, as well as GI stuff, but ortho or some tumor removals are difficult for me to interpret on my own cause I don’t have much experience and don’t know all the small arteries, ligaments, etc.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

ajs513

PennVet c/o 2023
2+ Year Member
Feb 15, 2018
1,619
2,897
Philadelphia
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Veterinary
I know the basics for spays and neuters, as well as GI stuff, but ortho or some tumor removals are difficult for me to interpret on my own cause I don’t have much experience and don’t know all the small arteries, ligaments, etc.
If it helps at all, the small stuff is what you learn in vet school anatomy to give you a better understanding of the bigger picture, so when you’re actually doing it you go “oh that’s an small artery. I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s an artery, and I’m not going to cut that.”
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

Kota1000

2+ Year Member
Mar 25, 2017
768
428
I want to say thank you to everyone that has provided amazing suggestions and help with my problem! I will be starting my summer vet assistant position within the next two weeks! I’m so excited
 
  • Like
Reactions: 4 users

Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

  1. Your new thread title is very short, and likely is unhelpful.
  2. Your reply is very short and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  3. Your reply is very long and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  4. It is very likely that it does not need any further discussion and thus bumping it serves no purpose.
  5. Your message is mostly quotes or spoilers.
  6. Your reply has occurred very quickly after a previous reply and likely does not add anything to the thread.
  7. This thread is locked.
About the Ads