The Comfort Zone

June 22, 2011

What could be easier? You arrive in the morning, have your procedure then leave later the same day. This is called out patient surgery. One of the most common and preferred choices of both physicians and patients. This is made possible by less invasive techniques that still facilitate the same, if not better surgery. Everything from anesthesia to recovery is taken care of in a matter of hours. Preparing for such a surgery goes beyond reading the pamphlets your physician hands you. Do your homework and ask questions! The success of both your procedure and recovery depends on YOU.

Preparing for Outpatient Surgery

What could be easier? You arrive in the morning, have your procedure then leave later the same day. This is called out patient surgery. One of the most common and preferred choices of both physicians and patients. This is made possible by less invasive techniques that still facilitate the same, if not better surgery. Everything from anesthesia to recovery is taken care of in a matter of hours. Preparing for such a surgery goes beyond reading the pamphlets your physician hands you. Do your homework and ask questions! The success of both your procedure and recovery depends on YOU.

One of the many the benefits of outpatient surgery is that you have time to plan ahead. Use this time to find out from your doctor what you should prepare for prior to, during and after your brief hospital stay. Here are some ideas:

* Think ahead to what you will need after surgery and get it ready now.

You will be in no shape to go running to the pharmacy for post operative pain medications or antibiotics. Get these medications filled prior to surgery so they are waiting for you at home. Ask a reliable friend to block out that day so he or she can take you to and from the hospital. You are not permitted to drive after most surgeries. Make certain your ride understands the importance of this. As well, make certain you will have someone with you at home for at least 24 hours post-op. You will be sore and sleepy, not a time to be alone. Aside from that, tell friends or family in advance when to stop by or when to call or not call. You will need plenty of rest after your surgery.

* Consider what changes you will need to make in your home

If your bedroom is upstairs and you are having leg surgery or something else which will prevent you from climbing stairs, you may want to move your resting area into the living room or some place more accessible. As well, if you know you will be needing the restroom frequently, position yourself so you do not have to walk a long distance each time.

*Go shopping and prepare your diet ahead

If you are asked to remain on a specific diet, say, of clear liquids, get everything you need prior to surgery. Make clear juice popcicles or get your favorite juices and mix them with seven-up! Trust me, you will not feel up to it right after your surgery! Most importantly, be sure to go over with the doctor the exact specifications of your post-surgical diet.

*Reaching out

Many are not fortunate enough to have a friend or family member to rely on in their time of need. Reach out in your community to your local church, hospital or social services department. Ask for help! As well, if you'd like spiritual guidance while you recover, many parishes have people who will gladly stop by your home to keep you company or worship. I was amazed when I actually saw just how many public services exist.

* Red flags

You can never ask too many questions or be too safe when preparing to recover in your home as opposed to hospital setting. is your patient right to ask for and receive the best health care advice. Always err on the side of safety. Watch for complications such as a high fever ( 101 +), vomiting, nausea, dizziness, irritation or bleeding of incision, shortness of breath, excessive vaginal bleeding. Of course, depending on your specific surgery your doctor may fine tune these into more specifics, however, these are the basics.

In the weeks and days prior to surgery, take good care of yourself. Remember that the healthier you enter into surgery the easier time you will have recovering. Call the doctor if you develop a fever, sore throat or vomiting before your surgery time. Again, better to err on the safe side. Follow your instructions to the letter regarding your food and liquid intake the day before surgery. With bowel prep, you may even have instructions that begin 2 or even 3 days before surgery. It is essential you follow these guidelines as they are designed for your safety. Leave your jewelry at home. Do not wear make-up and to save the OR staff a huge hassle, remove your nail polish at home. The doctor's and nurses in surgery gauge your vitality by looking at the pink under your nail. If you have acrylics or Gels, remove at least one.

When you get into recovery one of the first things you will be asked about is your pain level. You might be asked to describe your pain on a level of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst. This helps the recovery staff make you comfortable. You will be given intravenous pain medications in recovery. Afterwards, to prepare you for going home, you will switch to oral pain medications provided you are recovering as expected. How long you stay at the hospital really depends on you and what you can tolerate. You will be asked to urinate, walk around, drink fluids and manage your own pain with the use of only oral medications. Once these are met you are ready to go home! Personally, I would rather recover in my own room than a hospital bed! Remember that if you do NOT feel comfortable leaving the hospital for any reason or one of the above requirements can not be met, you may be admitted to the floor overnight.

All in all, outpatient surgery saves you time, money and the stress of being away form home. Be prepared, plan ahead and ask questions to make your outpatient experience a positive one!

Jennifer Marie Lewis

May 28, 1998