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Pre-op for the mind
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Take a deep breath

Easing the road to recovery
Easing the road to recovery

Besides getting your mind and body ready for surgery, you’ll also need to make sure everything around you is prepared. Here are some things to think about:

  • Don’t forget to mention aspirin or ibuprofen when you tell your doctor about the medications you are taking. Because they are blood thinners, these drugs inhibit clotting and can increase blood loss during and after surgery.
  • Ask your doctor what your physical limitations will be after the operation and prepare your home accordingly. If stairs will be a factor, set up a rest area on the first level of your house.
  • Ask the nurse if you can bring some comfort items, like a bathrobe or photographs, into your hospital room.
  • Ask friends and family to stay with you before and after the surgery. Their support will help ease your anxiety.

Just like a football coach prepares the team before a game, you need to prepare your body and mind before an operation. Research shows that the more prepared and less anxious someone is about surgery, the faster that person heals. Your doctor will take care of all the necessary tests that you’ll need before the procedure, but it’s your responsibility to make sure you are informed and prepared for the operation.

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Researchers have found that knowing what to expect before, during and after surgery improves overall recovery by an average of 20 percent.

As soon as your doctor tells you that you need to have surgery, find out the details of the procedure. Ask:

  • Are there alternatives to surgery?
  • What are the benefits of the operation?
  • What are the risks?
  • What if the operation isn’t performed?
  • What will happen during the surgery?

Your doctor may provide you with informational brochures and/or videotapes. These will help you process the information at your own pace.

Take a deep breath

Managing your stress can also speed recovery. Here’s why: Stress raises blood pressure and heart rate, increasing the risk of cardiac complications. It may also prevent patients from eating or sleeping properly, delay wound healing and deplete the body’s defenses against infection. Stress also worsens pain by tightening muscles around the incision.

Of course, not being stressed is easier said than done. Before you go into surgery, imagine your recovery. Think about how good you will feel after the doctor fixes your problem. Try to eliminate other stresses in your life as well, like work worries or family problems. Relaxation techniques, including deep breathing, meditation or yoga, will help you achieve a peaceful state of mind.

You can also ask to talk to patients in the hospital who have undergone a similar procedure. This experience will help calm your fears.