Tips on Preparing for Surgery

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"Tips on Preparing for Surgery"
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Surgery can easily wear down your mental, physical and financial resources. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the unpleasant aspects of surgery and feel as ready and relaxed as you possibly can.

If you are preparing for surgery, one of the best things you can do for yourself right now is to print out the tips on preparing for surgery listed below.  Paste the tips on your fridge and when you accomplish each of the recommendations put a check mark by it. Try your best, give yourself enough time, and don't worry if you don't finish it all because even the smallest amount of preparation can pay huge dividends.

The list below is organized into the most important areas of focus: preparing your mind, your body, your loved ones, your environment and your post-operative schedule.

1. Prepare your mind

___Get a notebook and write down all the questions you have about your condition and your surgery. Bring the notebook to your doctor's appointment. Write down things you want to remember and things you don't fully understand even after the doctor has explained it.

___Look up the things you don't understand. Only use reputable websites! No forums, message boards or personal websites for info no matter how tempting- these will be misleading.

___Use guided imagery to prepare your mind. Every day before the surgery get in a relaxed position, take several deep breaths, and imagine the events that will occur in the hours before the operation right up to being waking up after the surgery has been successfully completed. Imagine yourself staying calm and positive. Know that you will be calm and relaxed the day of the operation because you have already practiced this event again and again.

2. Prepare your body:

___Quit smoking, this seriously impairs your ability to heal and puts you at significantly higher risk during general anesthesia. It doesn't matter how you do it, but you have to, absolutely have to stop smoking before your surgery. Six weeks tobacco-free is ideal, but even one week is better than nothing.

___Work with your doctor to get any other medical conditions under the best control possible. This is especially important for diabetes, morbid obesity, COPD and inflammatory conditions.

___Cut out the junk food and sodas or soft drinks. Load up on the fruits and veggies. Get high quality protein from chicken, fish, turkey, bison, tempeh or tofu. Continue this diet when you are allowed to eat after your surgery.

___Take Vitamin C 500mg daily and Zinc 20-40mg daily. Both of these supplements improve wound healing and boost the immune system. If you are starting to take Zinc over a month in advance of your surgery you should also supplement with copper.  Be sure to tell your doctor you are taking these supplements (some antibiotics are poorly absorbed if taken with zinc).

___Get some physical activity. Don't push yourself too hard, but get moving in whatever way you can. You may be bed bound after your surgery and can become deconditioned surprisingly quickly.

___Follow your preoperative instructions carefully. You may need to discontinue certain medications a week before surgery, etc. The last thing you need is a postponed surgery because you accidentally forgot and drank your regular morning coffee.

3. Prepare your loved ones:

___Explain the details of your operation and hospital stay to your close family that will be visiting you or caring for you. They need to know what expect just like you do. If you are going to have limited mobility, have drains in place, have visible sutures, etc then it helps to share this info and make the situation less frightening and worrisome.

___Make sure your spouse, parents or adult children understand your wishes regarding your care, including end of life care. Serious complications can occur during and after surgery when you will be unable to voice your wishes yourself.

4. Prepare your environment:

___Know ahead of time if you will need to change the position or location of your home and office environment to make things more comfortable for you.

___Clean your house before the surgery. You will want to come home to a comforting, welcoming and safe place.

___Pack a few things that will make your hospital room cozier, such as a blanket and your favorite essential oil spray.

5. Prepare your post-op schedule:

___Before undergoing surgery, get a calendar and mark down the things you can be fairly certain about in your immediate future. This should include your estimated length of hospital stay, when you will be allowed to return to work, to drive, to lift heavy objects. Know when you will be expected to have a post-operative clinic visit.

___Think about the itty bitty post-op details. Will you have groceries in stock or someone to get them for you and/or cook them for you? Will you need help with personal hygiene? Will someone need to drive you around while you're on narcotics? Will someone need to walk your dog or clean the litter box?

Being prepared for surgery is entirely possible. Get started today, and keep in mind that the advice does not replace the medical advice of your physician.

More about this author: Nicole Evans M.D.

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