Planning or preparing for an upcoming scheduled surgery may just be one of the scariest moments of one’s lifetime. You are filled with doubts and fears about the possible outcome of the surgery: ‘Will it be successful?’ ‘Will I get better?’ ‘Will I have any complications afterwards?’ are some of the questions that may plague your mind in the period before the procedure.
Nobody ever has it easy in the prelude to surgery, but there are definitely a few things you can do to make the journey easier mentally and psychologically and to even boost the process and outcome of the surgery. Here are a few suggestions:
Familiarize Yourself with The Surgery
Find out as much as you can about your particular surgery. This begins with asking your doctor when they recommend the surgery so that they answer all your questions to shape your expectations. You should also ask people who underwent a similar procedure to get an idea of what you may go through. If there is any extra information from trustworthy sources: books, journals, look through. Having as much information as possible about the surgery will put some of your doubts and fears at rest and boost your mental and emotional preparedness for the procedure.
Create a Hospital Discharge Plan
Each year, over 35 million people are discharged from the hospital in the U.S. While most people look forward to returning home after a hospital stay, there can be some uncertainty around transitioning to home care. Fortunately, planning ahead for hospital discharge can help ensure your recovery is easier, quicker and even less painful.
Adopt a Cleaner Diet
Some surgeries are diet-specific and your doctor will definitely advise you on the diet to maintain before and after your surgery. In the days before your surgery, eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Stick to healthy foods; avoid processed foods such as red meat and other foods because they are more difficult for your body to break down. Apart from making your body functions optimal for surgery, good nutrition also helps your body to fight infection and heal post-surgery. Avoid dehydration by drinking at least six 8-ounce glasses of fluid per day, preferably water.
Exercise is good for many things. Apart from keeping your body healthy and your functions active, it relaxes your mind and takes away some of the mental stress associating with pre-surgery blues.
Exercise does not have to be complicated; it can be something as simple as 5,000 to 10,000 steps a day to increase your stamina. You can also practice relaxation exercises by performing deep-breathing exercises to get your body into better shape.
Kick Bad Habits
Over time you may have picked up some bad health habits, like smoking, drinking alcohol, using drugs or even overusing prescription medicine. Use the time before surgery to drop some of these habits especially if they have a direct impact on your procedure. Alcohol and smoking affect the effectiveness of anesthesia and should be avoided at all costs. Also, avoid any mood-altering substances that can affect your sleep or anxiety levels leading up to surgery.
You should also avoid any medications that impact bleeding, such as aspirin, and anti-inflammatory drugs (like Advil®), Plavix® and Coumadin® for a better experience during your procedure. Ask your doctor to advise you on healthier alternatives to ensure you are in a safe space.
In the same breath, try and find out about the medications that you will need post-surgery and ensure you have them early or know where to find them (just in case they will not be provided at the hospital).
Go for Regular Check-ups
Your doctor will definitely advise you on how many check-ups and tests you need to be done before your surgery. Be sure to honor all your appointments and also tell your doctor about any new symptoms you might be experiencing to help them make important decisions concerning your surgery.
This is also when you can ask all questions regarding the actual procedure and recovery period and voice all your concerns.
Make a Plan with Loved Ones
If you are especially about to go through major surgery and live alone, organize to have a caregiver come in to tend to your needs. Some surgery might leave you with very little ability to move. It could be family or you could organize to hire a nurse for the first few days or weeks post-surgery until when you can be back on your feet.