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How To Prepare For Upcoming Surgery

Updated on March 23, 2011

If you are facing surgery and a stay in hospital, make sure you are prepared. During the whole process, it is helpful to have with you a friend or family member who can listen quietly and respectfully, adding any questions that might not have occurred to you and remembering details that might have slipped your mind. You and your friend should both take notes so nothing is overlooked.

Hopefully you have a good family physician who listens to your questions and answers them honestly and patiently. He is the one who will refer you to a surgeon. Ask him why this surgeon was chosen and also, do you have the right to make another choice, if you are uncomfortable with this one. Make sure you understand why this surgery is necessary and if there are any other possible alternatives that could be just as effective. Write down the time and place for your appointment with the surgeon.

If is perfectly ethical to investigate a particular physician's record to see if there have been any serious charges against him/her. This is a litigious country, so do not be overly alarmed if there is a complaint. Check on the outcome.

When you go to see the surgeon, go armed with any questions or concerns that you would like to discuss. Again ask for a clarification of the need for the surgery, and what specifically it will involve. Ask if he is familiar with preforming this surgery and what the outcome usually is. How does he expect your particular body will react to the surgery? How long is the recovery and what complications, serious or otherwise, might you expect? If pain concerns you, ask how that will be dealt with. Encourage your companion to join in if they have any pertinent questions. Discuss any concerns you have regarding anesthetics, especially if you have had unpleasant experiences in the past? Is a local anesthetic possible for this surgery? Will you recover totally from this surgery?  What costs are involved?  Make sure you understand these completely and plan for them.

Remember, if you are uncomfortable with the surgeon, you have a right to ask for a second opinion. Reputable surgeons are not upset by such requests.

You will be given a surgery date either immediately or hopefully some time soon. Make sure you check times and dates for conflicts, and find out exactly when and where in the hospital you are to report and what you are expected to bring.  Always bring all your present medications with you when you go for a hospital stay.

Surgery waits are a concern for everyone. If you feel that your pain is worsening or that your condition in general is deteriorating, contact you physician's office and report exactly how you feel. You may need to be reexamined and possibly your surgery date may be pushed ahead.

Ad soon as you know you will need surgery, make plans for your home. Give it a good cleaning. Lay in a stock of healthy foods that can be quickly prepared. Make sure you get yourself in the best possible health by eating a nutritious diet, getting sufficient rest and relaxation, and doing what exercise you are able.

Everyone needs some help after surgery. Do not hesitate to ask for it. If you live alone you may need someone to stay with you in your home for a few nights. Ask family and friends, but only those who are willing, calm, and supportive. You need someone who will advocate on your behalf. This means if your pain is increasing or you have symptoms that are of concern, your companion will immediately contact your surgeon or family doctor for advice.

Make sure you understand what the procedure will be once you enter the hospital and the operating room. What will recovery involve? When can you have visitors. You want someone reliable to ask questions for you until you can ask them yourself. What follow up visits will be needed and will any other treatments, such as physiotherapy be advisable. 

As soon as you are able, after surgery, ask your surgeon if he is satisfied with your recovery. Does he see any indication that there may be future problems. Ask when your discharge date will be. If this date arrives and you do not feel well enough to go home, voice these concerns. This is all about you. You must feel ready and able to take the next step. Before you leave hospital, make sure you have all the medications and instructions needed for a swift and complete recovery.

If you live alone and do not have anyone you can count on to help you through this difficult time, discuss this with your family doctor. There are volunteer organizations that will step in to make sure you are well cared for, and secure, both in the hospital and in your own home.


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    • billips profile image

      billips 8 years ago from Central Texas

      Hi lorlie6 - thanks for reading and commenting - hope you are doing well now - the first surgery is undoubtedly the hardest when you really don't know what to expect - my sister had both hers done and the results continue to amaze me - glad I live in the age of medical miracles - regards, B.

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Thanks, billips, for this very informative Hub. I recently had a total hip replacement procedure done and wish this had been written beforehand! :o)

      Actually, I will be having the other hip replaced in February '10, so it is timely.

      Thanks again.