If you are scheduled for an upcoming surgery, it is only natural to have doubts and concerns. These feelings are normal, even for minor, minimally invasive surgeries. One of the best ways to alleviate anxiety about medical procedures is to ask plenty of questions before you enter the operating theater.
First of all, you should ask about the basics of the procedure. Your doctor should be willing to walk you through the process so that you know what to expect, from the moment you enter the hospital until you are discharged. If you are unclear on any aspect of the procedure, do not be afraid to follow up. This is about your health and life, and you are your own best advocate. You should also make sure that your insurance company is on board with this procedure so you aren’t left holding a huge bill at the end of the day.
Inpatient or Outpatient
You should also ask how long you will be in the treatment facility. Knowing this can help you plan what to bring, and can also help you navigate your insurance company's rules for inpatient versus outpatient procedures. If you will be in the hospital for several days, it is a good idea to bring some entertainment items, and arrange for visitors. Hospital food is notoriously unappetizing, so you might want to ask your care team if you will be allowed to bring in an outside snack or two.
Rules For Visitors
Some people feel much more comfortable if a loved one can be present during the procedure. This is not always possible, depending on the type of surgery. Knowing in advance whether you can have a support person in the operating room with you can help you better prepare.
What To Expect During Recovery
Sometimes physicians are so focused on the details of the surgery itself that they fail to give you an adequate understanding of what the recovery period will entail. Ask as many questions about recovery as you do about the procedure. Find out how long you will be on bedrest or have limited mobility. Also, ask what options will be available to treat residual pain. Doctors often prescribe opioid medications as a post-surgery pain treatment, but these medications are highly addictive. If this is a risk you'd like to avoid, ask your doctor about alternatives.
What Resources Are Available
If your procedure will be performed at a large medical complex, contact the surgical center and find out what resources will be available for you. You might have access to recovery and support groups, outside funding, or other community resources. Knowing what tools you have at your disposal can make the recovery process a little easier.
With research and communication, you will be an informed patient, ready for a successful and life-improving procedure. Your research should focus on all aspects, including how this will work with your insurance, what you need to do to prepare, and what you will need after your surgery.