Mentally preparing for surgery
Mentally preparing for a surgical procedure has so many angles and variations because preparation also has so many variations. The goal of this section is provide you with some checklists of items to consider in attempt to reduce the stress and anxiety. The checklist is divided into the different aspects of our life that may need some planning and refining prior to your surgical date:
- Pay all your bills in advance.
- Stock your home with some easy-to-cook or pre-cooked meals.
- Prepare and freeze some meals for easy preparation or have a collection of menus from your favorite restaurants with delivery service placed in a stack next to your relaxation area.
- Make sure you have someone to cut the lawn or shovel the snow for a few weeks.
- Clear pathways from the entrance of your home to your bedroom, bathroom and kitchen so you can sleep, eat and use the restroom without fear of tripping.
- Make sure you have plenty of ice or bags of frozen vegetables to help cool down your operative site. Have a minimum of 2 bags. AOS can provide you with a state-of-the-art cooling device. Ask our staff for details.
- Clear out your favorite chair and place the remote, phone, and phone charger close and convenient.
- Make sure you have your favorite videos, books, games and snacks easily accessible.
- If you are having a lower extremity surgery, make sure you have something that can help elevate your leg above your heart. You can purchase a leg elevator on-line or you can use one to two stable couch cushions. Ideally, you need to elevate the extremity over 10 cm from your heart.
- Inform all the family members you rely upon about your upcoming surgery.
- Arrange for family or friends to stay with you. For most outpatient surgeries this will be for at least 24 hrs. Total joint surgeries normally require 3 weeks.
- Ask for family to help with shopping and light errands such as laundry.
- Start doing the exercises your surgeon may have provided you with to get your body moving and prepared.
- Get your body used to moving again. If you can go for short walks, do this for 10-15 minutes a day. If you can’t walk, use a stationary bike.
- If you smoke, stop now! No excuses.
- Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables to gently increase the fiber in your diet. Pain medications can be constipating.
- If requested, schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor or specialists to obtain medical clearance.
- Do NOT shave the surgical extremity at least 5-6 days prior to the surgery. The little scratches left by even the most talented shaver deposits millions of bacteria.
- Use an antibacterial soap and wash head to toe without scrubbing for 5 minutes the night before and the day of your surgery.
- Reduce the stressful events in your life.
- Take 24 minutes per day (either at the beginning or end) to decompress, sit, and chill. This is one minute for each hour of the day. Set your watch or phone to count backwards from 24 minutes and enjoy the silence.
- Practice some deep breathing exercises such as the 4-7-8 breathing method described in this video: https://www.drweil.com/drw/u/VDR00160/Dr-Weils-Breathing-Exercises-4-7-8-Breath.html
- Prayer for your surgery, as well as the people helping you out can help. Here is a link to a common prayer: https://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=474
This is not a comprehensive, but rather a selected list of the most common tips and suggestions but performing just a few will help.