How to Prepare for Surgery

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  • By Robin Westen

    Surgery ranks as one of the most stressful events in our lives. But there are steps you can take to help make it go as smoothly as possible. This applies to both the operation and your recovery.

    Here are six crucial tips:

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  • Be Informed Get as much information as you can prior to your procedure. Speak to your doctor about why you need the procedure, the process, and the possible complications. Make a list of questions. If your doctor is unwilling to spend time with you to answer your concerns, seek a second opinion. Knowledge is power.
  • Talk About Timing A good question to ask is whether your surgery is an emergency. Do you need it now or can it wait? If you can wait, it affords you time to work out your schedule and responsibilities and may help ease the stress. Remember to factor in recovery time.
  • Bring Someone Along Even if it’s just the pre-surgical appointment, you’ll want to have a close friend or family member accompany you. They’ll not only be able to take notes, but might come up with questions that have slipped your mind. Also, you might choose to record your visit. Ask your surgeon if he or she minds being “taped."
  • Request a List There are preoperative and post-discharge checklists. If they are available be sure take them. Among other benefits, having this on hand will enable you to get postoperative prescriptions filled ahead of surgery so you won't have to wait at the pharmacy or send someone out. If you think you’ll need OTC materials like ointments or gauze, purchase these ahead of time, too.
  • Call Your Insurance Company This is one of the biggest hassles. Make sure your operation is preauthorized and covered. You’ll also want to double check that you’ve done everything you need to do to make the paper work go smoothly before your big day.
  • Arrange for Help Will you need someone at home to help you after the surgery? Speak to your doctor and others who have had the surgery to find out the length of recovery time and whether you’ll need to arrange for help. Ask whether you can get around the house, cook, shower, shop and drive to appointments. Consider if you’ll be taking heavy pain meds. If that’s the case doing any of these things may be dangerous. Set up help ahead of time and ask your insurance company if they’ll cover an aid.

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