Preparing for any sort of surgery can be frightening, or exciting. There's a chance that it's going to make something better, but will it hurt? You may be very familiar with hospital procedures, or you may have no idea what is going to happen. Either way, this article can provide some guidance about how to be ready for your hospital admission.
1. Talk with your family and friends. Discuss the surgery with your family and friends and begin putting the necessary support group in place. Tell them how you are feeling and your emotional state of mind. Are you hopeful about the predicted outcomes of the surgery, or is the idea of being admitted bugging you? Whatever it is, often sharing these feelings with someone, can help you liberate any trapped anxiety or frustration about your situation or future.
2. Communicate with your spouse or caregiver. Be sure to review all the steps that will be taking place before, during and after the operation. Confirm the surgery date and time and make sure schedules do not conflict.
3. Look at your home or apartment. Try to get your home in order by doing some cleaning, paying bills, and running errands. Remember you may be incapacitated for some time (depending on your surgery- up to six weeks) and having your home in some order will help eliminate some of the emotional stress and help you to feel emotionally and physically prepared. Organise for a responsible adult, whom you trust, to be around for 24 hours after you've had a general anaesthetic- if you're only in hospital for the day.
4. Consider re-arranging your furniture. If you're having surgery which will effect your range of movement, mobility or stability, make your home patient safe by removing obstacles or furniture that may block the entrance-way to the bathroom or kitchen. You don't want wires or rugs lying around that may trip you and cause you to fall and further injure yourself. If bending over or standing for long periods of time may be a problem, them set things in places which you will be able to reach them, and make sure you have plenty of easy-to- prepare food in stock. If an overnight stay is expected after the surgery, then pack your bag. The hospital should give you some guidelines about what to bring.
5. If you're nervous, talk to other patients. Speak to other surgical patients you may know and ask how they dealt with the preparations and recovery. You could also ask about the ward, hospital procedures or how they felt afterwards. The more information you have on your procedure, the more empowered or prepared you may feel. Many nurses really go the extra mile to make sure that you know what you're doing, so address any unanswered questions to them if appropriate. Ringing the hospital/ ward to ask a question is also a very reasonable thing to do. Make sure you get the answers you need.
6. Do your research. Go on the web and research your procedure and the sort of anesthetic or treatment you'll be having. Find out what is being said by the professionals and what, if any, are their recommendations for dealing with the recovery process.You could also look at what the short term effects of the surgery and anesthetic are; for example it is common for a general anesthetic to cause a sore throat afterwards due to a plastic tube being placed down throat to help you breathe whilst unconscious.
7. Arrange pet care, if needed. This is because you may not, depending on where you're having surgery, be able to walk around for a few days. Try contacting your neighbors or a professional pet sitter to take care of your favorite animal. Equally, if you're the sole carer of small children, you'll need to consider what you'll be able to manage after the surgery and put help you'll need to carry on. Make sure your childcare is organized and your kids know what's going to happen, at least vaguely and what the plan is for them. If they're reliant on you, then they're automatically involved to some extent.
8. Arrange transportation. Make arrangements with a friend who will be able to drive you to any physical therapy, the doctor's office, the hospital and to collect any medication. There may be a retired citizen that can do this for you. Be sure to pay them a fair price. Be aware that if you're having day surgery, it is recommended that you do not take public transport alone (except taxis) within 24 hours of a general anesthetic.
9. Take care of your personal needs and pamper yourself. Go to your favorite beauty salon and get a haircut, manicure, facial and pedicure. Depending upon your type of surgery, you may not be able to do this for a few weeks after the operation. Do not apply nail polish/ fake nails to your toes or fingers, as this may interfere with the machine that monitors the oxygen in your blood and you'll only have to be asked to remove it or go home. Also, take extra care of any parts of you, which may suffer temporarily due to the surgery, for example if you're going to have a cannula put into the back of your hand, then make sure that the skin there isn't chapped, as this can cause additional soreness, especially if there's a lot of activity in that area.Take a shower the night before going into hospital and avoid applying lotions, as they can interfere with the having heart-monitor pads stuck to you, as they can make the skin a bit oily.
10. Get a soap on a rope. Sometimes after surgery, taking a shower has to be done very carefully. Things often must be kept at a higher level, if you're going to have difficulty leaning over to reach things. An example of this is, a piece of soap on a rope could be hung over the shower. Think about buying novelties which could make your life easier, or changing how you do things for a time.
11. Get a notebook or tape recorder. Keep a pen and notebook or voice activated tape recorder at your bedside for reminders, or store questions for if/ when the surgeon or anaesthetist visits. It can also be useful for reminding you or your nurse/caregiver of something which is important to you.
12. Learn ways to relax. Meditation, hypnosis or just deep breathing exercises will allow your mind and your body to cope better with the surgery and heal faster. Find things which calm you down and which you can do, for example- listening to music, drawing, knitting. It's your choice about what you occupy your free time with. Often hospitals lack entertainment, so feel free to bring your own, which you think won't be obstructive to the nurses and other patients. Bear ward restrictions in mind, for example. some day-wards to not recommend you bring your mobile phone or other electrical equipment, as the increased foot-traffic means there's a higher chance of them walking off.
13. Remember to thank your doctor. They will appreciate it, and may be more inclined to respond thoughtfully and courteously to your questions and needs.
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