Thanks, Internet, for Raising My Fear Level for No Reason

I recently had to get some minor surgery, and I thought I was doing myself a favor by reading as much as I could about the procedure before it took place.

Unfortunately, some of what I read did not exactly sugarcoat things, and made the procedure sound quite painful and unpleasant.

Here’s one person’s account of her experience¬†(in italics):

...removing the nasal packing is one of the most frightening and painful experiences you can have in a hospital.

followed by this warning:


Of course, I kept reading…

The packing will be grasped with the tweezers, then pulled steadily and firmly out with the assistance of a suction tube. This results in a horrific and painful sensation which feels as though brain tissue is being removed from a point beneath your eyeball. It is not only excruciating, it is quite terrifying to realize that the points of the tweezers are indeed that deep in your head: your nasal passages extend past your eyeballs. (This was almost an eight or nine in terms of sheer agony. Thankfully it was brief, but debilitating and demoralizing.)

What exactly happens then I am unsure, as this was the most painful part of the entire experience and I nearly blacked out. I cannot describe it without sounding melodramatic, but it was literally the most frightening and intense pain I have ever felt in forty years of my life (and I am including the thirty-four hours of mostly unmedicated labour, the spinal epidural, and recovery from an emergency C-section).

I’ve been lucky to have never had any serious injury or experience significant pain, but I’ve watched my children being born and that looked painful, but my wife was amazingly under control for all three births. Why did this Internet poster have to compare my procedure to childbirth? But she wasn’t quite finished describing things…

I went into shock while sitting there, trying to keep myself upright in the chair, holding the clotting basin under my own chin, shaking and trembling and crying. Perhaps you’re made of tougher stuff. The children and teens who were ahead of me and after me (they did all the packing removal for the surgery patients in the same hour one evening) were screaming in literal hysteria during the procedure, and even the older males (who pride themselves on toughness and have been through compulsory military service) were coming out looking dazed and shaky.

So that’s what I was getting myself into, and I had no reason to expect that I would face such pain any better than the people she described.

Well my surgery was successful, and I had a follow-up doctor’s appointment a few days later for the removal of the packing, which is what I was most concerned with. In the days leading up to the appointment, it was all I could think about.

Well the big day finally arrived, and I can happily say that my experience was nothing like that of the woman quoted above.

It was over in less than five minutes, and while it was an odd sensation, I certainly wouldn’t call it painful.

As I left the doctor’s office I realized I had gotten myself all worked-up for no reason.

I had read other people’s accounts of having the procedure, but none of them were quite as dramatic (or as painful sounding) as the one noted above. I basically just ignored these other stories and focused instead on the worst possible outcome.

I think such a reaction may be human nature. We tend to dwell on what could go wrong and tools like 24-hour news channels and the Internet only serve to amplify such reactions.

FDR had it right back in 1993 when he said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

We just need to be reminded of that today; maybe it would make a great Presidential campaign slogan…



Published by

Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

3 thoughts on “Thanks, Internet, for Raising My Fear Level for No Reason”

  1. I had sinus surgery over 30 years ago and, while I’d say the removal of the nasal packing was quite uncomfortable (maybe even a bit painful, albeit for just a few seconds), I would say this blogger is trying to get a book deal or something. Talk about over the top.

    Similarly, before my heart-valve surgery a couple of years ago, a co-worker had had similar surgery, and he had me freaked out about the catheterization they do a day ahead of time to make sure you have no blockages. His phrase, “When they stuck the needle in, I just about came up off the table,” had me needlessly concerned. My cardiologist inserted a needle into my wrist, and it was no worse than having an IV inserted. It was nearly painless from start to finish, and Doc said everything looked “beautiful.”

    Presidential campaign slogan? “The only thing we have to fear is [scary candidate I won’t name] himself.”


    1. I thought the same thing about that blogger; she would be great at writing horror stories.

      Glad to know that you had good experiences with your surgery.

      Good suggestion for a slogan!


      1. Reminds me: Stephen King (in “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” — an excellent book) describes a medical procedure he was subjected to as a boy a couple of times: draining his ears of fluid. He used very descriptive — even amusing — language, and surely those experiences led to some of his scarier novels.

        Maybe the writer you mentioned has read a few of King’s books.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *