Preparing for Common Medical Procedures

Taking care of your health is important, and sometimes part of taking care of your health also means needing to have some not-so-comfortable medical procedures done; and while much of the unpleasantry associated with many of these tests is usually only temporary, that doesn’t make them any less nerve wrecking. The good thing, however, is that there are certain things you can do in effort to help get yourself through it.

The most common type of tests people go for is blood work. This can either be done as part of a routine (yearly) exam, or if can be done to test for other abnormalities with your health if you happen to be experiencing unusual symptoms. For example, blood work can determine if your thyroid is over or under-active, if you are diabetes, if you have high cholesterol, or even if you have cancer. The most common fear that patients have when it comes to getting their blood work done is fear of blood itself (also known as hemophobia), fear of needles, or, in some cases, both. When this fear becomes triggered, your heart rate and blood pressure then increase followed by a rapid drop, which can cause you to faint. This is known as a vasovagal response. You may also experience other physical symptoms, such as sweating or feeling cold, nausea, light-headedness, chest pain, difficulty breathing, or shaking/trembling. If you’re scared to have blood work done, it’s always a good idea telling the person doing the test about those fears. Staff are often trained to help ease patients’ fears and make the tests as quick and painless as possible. Following the test, you may be asks to sit for a few minutes. This is two ensure things: That there is no excessive bleeding (pressure will be applied to the site where the blood was taken), and that you do not have a fainting spell on your way out.

Medical imaging testing, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (also known as MRI), may be ordered by a physician. These types of scans can diagnose a variety of conditions, such as torn ligaments and even tumours. However, unlike X-rays, some patients may find MRIs to be quite uncomfortable – not because they are painful, but because they are claustrophobic. During an MRI, you will be asked to lay down in a fairly small, round, and loud chamber – sometimes for a rather long period of time (in some cases an MRI can take up to an hour.) For individuals who suffer from claustrophobia, this can cause an overwhelming sense of dead and may even lead to a panic attack. If you’re going to be having an MRI done and are concerned about this, you have to remember that the benefits of getting this test done far outweigh the risks, and, may even be a matter of life or death. Therefore the sooner you have the test done and over with, the better. To help reduce your anxiety level, your doctor may be able to prescribe you with a mild sedative-like medication that you can take 30 to 60 minutes prior to having the MRI done. It is important to note that unless you’ve been admitted into the ER, medical imaging staff will not be able to provide you with this medication, so always ensure you have gotten it prior to the test.

As we get older, there are also certain screening tests that we need to have done. For example, if you are over the age of 50, you are at an increased risk of colon cancer, therefore your doctor may suggest that you have a colonoscopy done every 10 years. Fear associated with having a colonoscopy are often related to issues surrounding sedation and any pain or discomfort that they may feel during the test, in addition to what might be found on test results – but again, this is another test that is vital for your wellbeing and important in ruling out serious illness. To help you prepare for a colonoscopy, it’s important that you read the instructions provided to you carefully and thoroughly and share any questions or concerns that you have with your physician. As you will be lightly sedated for this test, it’s unlikely that you should feel any major discomfort – and you most likely won’t even remember that procedure that well.