I think your co-workers are wrong, the best thing that you can do for yourself is be prepared and know exactly what you are getting into. I'm sure that they don't understand that doctors don't always tell you everything, and it helps to hear from others who have gone through what you are about
to. You have to filter the good and the bad and realize that some have complications, while others don't and hope for the best.
I was surprisingly calm in the pre-op, and when the anesthesiologist comes in, they will give you something before you go into the OR. They told me that I wouldn't remember anything after they put it in my IV and I didn't believe them. When I woke up, my brother asked me to tell him what he said to me, and I honestly couldn't remember a thing! (it was peter piper picked a peck of pickled peppers)
When I woke up from surgery, I knew instantly that while I had pain, it would get better. By the time I went home (5 days later) I had no pain (other than the incision area). They will give you the "good stuff", and I suggest that you get up as soon as possible after surgery, even if you can only get across the hall. The more pain meds you are on can slow the bowels from waking up and walking will also alleviate the horrible gas pains you will get if you don't. You won't be allowed to drink anything until your bowels wake up, ask your surgeon if you can chew gum during this time. It's not 100% proven, but is said that it can also help wake up the bowels.
Totally agree with the pillow idea, I posted on another forum about
having one at home in case you have animals or small children that could pounce on you when you get home. Good luck with everything and hope to hear you are healthier and recovering soon!