Preparing For Surgery | What You NEED To Know

Preparing for surgery can be a little more than packing cute pyjamas and remembering your phone charger. Believe me, I know, I mean, I just struggled to remember am I recovering from surgery 6 or 7. The surgery in September was a big one – a brain tumour. I’ve had both big and little surgeries over my life time, so I’m a self proclaimed expert. I want to share with you some tips on pre op and post op preparation, you may or may not know about. You’ll be surprised! I hope this post helps to quell your anxiety about your pending procedure – you’re lucky you have time to prepare, sometimes it isn’t possible. I am documenting my health journey on Instagram if you would like to chat, please feel free to say hello!

Follow the advice of your Consultant, not all tips may be suited to your particular health journey. When it comes to purchasing supplements, be sure to do your research on the advice I share. What works for me, may not apply to you. Also, I am recovering from a major operation, brain farts and mistakes will welcome any corrections.Dependent on your procedure, not of these things may be a part of your experience so don’t be frightened, it’s good to be prepared.

Preparing for Surgery | what you NEED to know surprising tips you didn't know post operative picture in bed receiving a blood transfusion

In the Weeks Before…

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Your Consultant would be happy to help, nothing is too stupid of a question. It is understandable you my be afraid, confused or unsure. Consultants often use you medical terminology, if you don’t know what something means, it is ok to ask.

Be sure to ask about recovery. What it will entail – for example, expected pain, anticipated side effects, post op therapies, post op dressings and tools, how long is recovery likely to be.This will give you an idea of what you may need to do to organise time of work, child care, personal care or home amendments etc. 

Make sure that you Consultant knows details about your beliefs. The can include things like your religion, spirituality or diet. These kinds of things can be accommodated to. For example, most hospitals have areas reserved specifically for religious activities, and not all hospitals don’t supply vegan options.

Be prepared to feel very “exposed”. Surgery can feel like an invasion of your privacy, because most people undergoing anaesthetic will be catheterised. This means a small pipe is placed in your urethra to manage the flow of pee you may expel during surgery. If you require to stay sedated or are expected to be immobile for a long time post op, it can be left in. To have it removed while awake is fairly unpleasant, but it can be a fright to wake up from surgery and wonder why you have no underwear on, and your genitals feel sore. 

Visit your dentist. Random, right? The first thing your Surgeons team will do when you’re put to sleep is open up your throat via a metal tongue compressor. This is so they can put breathing apparatus in to your airways to keep you breathing during your procedure. The apparatus is at risk of bumping in to your teeth, the only risk with this is that it will damage weak or lose teeth. 

Boost your immunity. Being in a hospital in general exposes people to a huge amount of contagious infections, viruses and other yummy germs! You can often be on a ward or in spaces with a lot of people and little ventilation so you want to be able to fight off these bugs. You will be extra vulnerable post op, as your body will recognise you have experienced a trauma, most of its energy will be directed to your recovery, rather than your overall health. Vitamin C is a powerful immune booster, and buy some Milk Thistle too, but DON’T take it before surgery, we will get to WHY later. 

In the Days Before…

Before surgery, it’s nice to make sure that the home you are returning to where you will recover is exactly how you like it when you are unwell. For me, I love my recovery space to be clean and tidy. This will be personal to you and your circumstances, so be sure to let the people who you live with know how you would appreciate your recovery space to be upon your re

Stock up on your favourite foods. I struggle to maintain a fruit and vegetable rich diet after surgery, I often crave a lot of junk. So, I try my best to mix the two, as it is important to give yourself both what it needs and what it wants. Recovery can be unpleasant so let’s not make it any more so.

Dig through your money box, and find a pile of loose change. Parking can be a nightmare at hospitals so it’s a good idea to be prepared for the likelihood that the parking metre doesn’t have the facilities to take card or cash payments. Also, the coffee shops, cafes and stores in hospitals don’t usually stay open very late, so yourself or your visitors will spend a lot of change at the vending machines. 

Follow the advice of your Consultant on what medication you may need to introduce or reduce from your life. It is generally advisable to not consume blood thinners such as aspirin or supplements such as Broccoli extract. Again, you can get advice on this from your Consultant or theair team.

The internet signal in hospitals can be notoriously bad including the Wifi,. It is a good idea to download your chosen films or shows before you go to the hospital. You can spend a lot of time waiting or bored, so prepare accordingly and pack some books, magazines or puzzles you enjoy to keep busy.

In your bag, you’re going to want comfortable clothes, pyjamas, socks and underwear. Take into consideration where your wound will be, so you known the limitations you may face when getting dressed. Take travel size cosmetics, the hospital can provide some basics but they’re not usually great. Take things that bring  you comfort, but don’t over pack, it can be difficult to manage your belongings in the small storage space you tend to get in hospitals. Don’t forget your charger!

Take foods you like – hospital food can be sh*t! Of course, perishables aren’t a good idea to pack too early on. Crisps and biscuits you can easily pack, and add your fruit snacks to your bag on the day you are leaving. Take cup/pot snacks you can add hot water too, the nice ladies who keep you in supply of endless cups of tea and coffee will be more than happy to help! If you don’t drink cows milk, take a couple of your preferred plant or boxed milks with you. Someone will usually be prepared to label and store it for you to use as and when. 

On the Day…

First and foremost listen to the specific advice given by your Consultant Dependent on your procedure, you may not be allowed to eat or drink for many hours before your surgery. They’ll give you specific advice on your medications such as what you’re allowed to take, how and when.

Don’t be late! Surgeons are very busy and important, they’re rarely afraid to remind you of that fact either!

If you are particularly anxious while you wait to be put to sleep, let somebody know. There will always be somebody around who can help you out. 

Stay calm! Once your being prepped for your procedure, there will be a lot of people around. Don’t be alarmed, everyone is there to provide you with care.

A few deep breaths in the middle of idle conversations and you’ll be asleep…..

In the Days After …

You may feel a little (or a lot!) hangover depending on how long you have been asleep. Your pain will likely be managed by a cannula, which is a tube left in your hand, your medicine will likely be delivered here. 

Don’t be alarmed by SO.MANY.WIRES. Fluids, heart monitors, blood pressure cuffs, fluid drains, ALL SORTS. 

If you are an in patient, particularly after a large procedure like I had recently – sooooo many people. `The first night after brain surgery I was disturbed every 45 minutes to check my blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and pee flow. That was then reduced to every few hours.Between those observations by a nurse, your surgeon or their team may visit, someone will visit to see what food you’d like for your next meal, a cleaner will come and freshen up, the tea lady will visit – it rotates like that all day. 

Now, the milk thistle. Your body has taken a huge hit of chemicals, this can leave you groggy and foggy for days. With permission from your Consultant, these will help flush the toxins from your system to get you feeling stronger, faster.

As your body concentrates on recovering from the trauma it has experience, don’t be surprised to find symptoms may be “worse”. All that usually means is that the energy your body usually gives to helping manage these symptoms is required elsewhere. 

If your surgery was particularly large, long or invasive, it is not uncommon to experience hair loss. Again, it is nothing to worry about, this again is your body allocating energy and resources to the areas which need it the most.

Follow the advice of your Consultant, be sure to relax, take your recovery day by day, and don’t forget to milk it 😉



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