6 things to do before you go in for surgery
Going in for a surgery can be a nerve-racking experience. Depending on your diagnosis, the surgery could be an elective or emergency surgery. In either case, the unfamiliarity of the procedure and the uncertainty of the outcome can induce anxiety. Emotional readiness and mental preparation will have a strong impact on the outcome of your surgery.
Here are a few things you can do prior surgery to put yourself at ease:
Ask questions to your doctor
Do not hesitate to clear all your doubts. Being well informed about the treatment by seeking answers for clarity will lead to reduced anxiety. Playing an active role by engaging with the doctor will help alleviate your fears and improve decision making. You could enquire about the following: what alternative treatments are available, the benefits and the possible risks, the cost of the surgery, medication to be taken before surgery, the type of anaesthesia needed, pain management, follow-up therapy and the recovery time. Do not stop asking until you have a complete understanding of the experience you will be having.
Have Social Support
Having family members and/or friends as part of the above discussions with the doctor would not only provide comfort and assurance to you, but they can also help you remember all the information.
Provide accurate information
Make sure to provide accurate information to your doctor about any allergies that you have, any medication you’ve been taking. Communication regarding these and your medical history is important so that the surgeon can advise on continuance or stopping of their usage, and the surgical procedure itself faces no problems.
What not to eat/drink
The night before your surgery, it is generally advised to not eat solid foods post-midnight. This is done to decrease the chance of vomiting and aspiration – which occurs when stomach contents enter the lungs, potentially blocking airflow. You can consume clear fluids (juices without pulp for instance) up to 4-5 hours before surgery, unless instructed otherwise. Avoid drinking milk 8 hours prior to surgery as due to its high protein and fat content, it takes longer to digest than other fluids.
What to avoid
Make sure to leave your valuables at home or with your family/friends present at the hospital. Do not wear make-up, jewellery, accessories and body piercings. Avoid usage of lotions, perfumes and scented products. Have a bath the night before and wash your hair. Do not shave your surgical area. Do not smoke on the day of the surgery. If possible, try quitting before it, or at least decrease the amount.
Before the surgery, you will be asked to indicate that you understand the nature of the surgical procedure to be performed and that you give your permission for the surgery. This may appear to be a formality but should be taken very seriously.
The above suggestions are a just a starting point for you as a patient and may not be all encompassing. Work towards being informed and it will help you feel less confused and more confident about your surgery.
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