5 Steps Before Surgery: what your doctor doesn’t tell you

If you’ve had some sort of surgery in your life, then you may feel these points of consideration don’t apply to you. Well, they do. If you’ve never had surgery before, then they definitely apply to you. And if you’re a family member or friend who will be helping someone before or during surgery, then these apply to you as well. Let’s talk about this!

5 Steps to Consider Before Surgery

before sxMost assuredly you will receive multiple sheets of paperwork from your doctor’s office before your scheduled surgery. In fact, it might consist of enough paper to fill a small 3-ring notebook. Don’t be surprised. There will be a complete list of instructions of all the things to do and not do before your surgery. Sometimes those instructions don’t get completed as instructed and this can lead to your surgery being rescheduled or more seriously, severe complications afterwards.

However there are things your doctor doesn’t tell you.

  • First and foremost, ask questions…a whole bunch of them. It is extremely important that you understand exactly what is going to happen before, during, and after your surgery. Doctors tend to use “their” language rather than what the rest of us can understand.

It is so important for you to feel as comfortable as possible with your procedure. If not, your time of healing can be significantly delayed. Less stress, worry and anxiety will result in quicker recovery time. Don’t feel embarrassed or uncomfortable about asking your doctor to explain things once, twice or even a dozen times. Remember, “There is no such thing as a stupid question.”

  • A lot of people don’t think this one is really that important. Well, I can tell you from personal experience it is really important. Except for what you’re wearing, leave everything at home, not just your valuables.  Before surgery you are going to have to strip down to your “birthday suit.” If you have ANYTHING on your person, they are going to ask you to remove it.

It is so much easier if you just leave items at home. If you feel the need to bring your purse or wallet and/or cell phone, then make sure you give them to the person who is with you. Being shuffled around during my last surgery, I lost my key chain. Oh yes, house key, car key, personal safe key…everything gone and never found.

  • For those of you who are humble and self-sufficient such as myself, this one may be difficult but it is so important. Arrange ahead of time for family and/or friends to bring you a couple of meals, run errands and help with whatever you need at home.

My latest surgery was very different than the past. I found myself in a situation where I didn’t have anyone to really help me. And because I can be a bit pig-headed, I chose not to ask for help. I can tell you from personal experience, it makes a huge difference. There’s nothing better to help you heal and feel more relaxed and comfortable than a good ol’ home cooked meal resting in a nice clean house.

  • Plan, Plan, Plan…I can’t emphasize this enough. In most cases, your surgery will be scheduled at least a week away and sometimes more. Get done as much as you can before your surgery. As I have mentioned before, your recovery time will be positively influenced by less stress in your life. You will not only heal faster, but you will feel a lot better.

Go to the grocery store and get as much as you need to tide you over during your down time. Take care of all your financial affairs. No, I don’t mean pay up on your life insurance policy. Take care of your bills and other financial needs as much as possible. Take the time to clean your home beforehand. Coming home after surgery and not having to worry about your house, well, it’s a huge relief. Pass down or remove whatever responsibilities you can for the amount of time you will be at home recovering. Your time should be spent healing, not doing.

  • Lastly, something many of you don’t think about or don’t want to think about. It doesn’t matter how old or how young you are, nor does it matter how relatively simple or complex your surgery, you HAVE to think about this. In the United States, we refer to it as an Advance Directive. No one wants to think about their eventual death and especially when and how. Having an advance directive on file with your doctor’s office and/or hospital is vital.

It is so important that your family and doctors know exactly what you want should something go terribly wrong during or after your surgery. When you’re younger, you think you are invincible. Well, you are not. In fact, it doesn’t matter what your age. Do your family a huge favor and yourself, get this done before you have surgery. I have witnessed family members of friends who have suddenly passed, even though they stated their wishes verbally, their wishes were not respected or followed through because they were not in writing. The individual’s untimely demise was bad enough, but watching the family members quarrel over what should be done was even worse.

This list is far from being comprehensive. However, I think these are the top five items to do before you have surgery. I’m not a medical expert by any means. However, at a fairly young age with over 15 surgeries under my belt, I find myself qualified.

If you have had surgery before, what would you add to this list that your doctor didn’t tell you about? Good luck with your upcoming surgery and be sure to rest… a lot!recovering after sx

©Julie Corbett





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