Going in for surgery can be a scary time. Being unsure of how you will feel, how your day-to-day life will need to change afterwards, and what the ‘new normal’ will be is tough.
But a little preparation can go a long way towards making you feel at ease. So here are a few things to know!
The first thing to know is that hospitals are for surgeries, and home is for convalescence. So don’t be surprised when they ask you to leave!
The hospital is designed for close observation to monitor the outcomes of the surgery in the very short term, but as soon as that ‘short term’ is over the staff need to make room for others. That means as soon as you no longer need to be watched 24/7, the hospital staff will be working on your discharge.
This can definitely feel very rushed, but as long as you’re prepared and have a good plan there’s no need to feel stress. And besides, the familiar surroundings of home are a much better place to recover once the immediate medical risks are gone.
But before you leave! Remember to…
Learn everything you can leading up to the day of discharge. The hospital staff has lots of info and doctors and nurses are great sources for your questions, but they’re busy so make them make time!
The few days (or hours) leading up to and after surgery when you are in the hospital are prime info gathering time. Unfortunately, it’s also the time when you are least able to gather that info (since you just went through surgery). So why not have a trusted friend or family member there with you who can hunt down all the info you need? Or if that’s hard to find, don’t worry! Call one of our RN care managers and let them do the leg work for you. We work with hundreds of clients coming out of surgery and can help you build the right plan.
No matter who you have helping you, it’s a good idea to make sure that they have a good grasp of all of these important things:
- What home care services you are eligible for through the CCAC (to learn more about this process, check this article out)
- What services you need in addition to what the CCAC will give you and where you plan to get them (family, friends, or take a look at what we can offer)
- What equipment you will need at home (shower chair, walker, raised toilet seat, blood pressure monitoring equipment)
- What pain medications you should have and what dosage to take to make your ride in the car on the way home more comfortable
- What nausea medication you should have (separate from pain medication but equally important!)
- What prescriptions you need to have filled and if they can be filled at the hospital before you leave
- What signs and symptoms you need to watch for post-surgery that would require immediate medical attention. It’s also good to know what symptoms are considered normal after surgery.
- When your follow up appointment with your surgeon is scheduled. Often they will tell you to call the office to make a follow up appointment, so make sure you have the contact information. You also need to know who to contact in case of questions or concerns that arise prior to this scheduled appointment.
On top of hunting down all that information, make sure that they get a copy of a few important documents from the hospital:
- The Discharge Summary from your surgeon – this is a summary of your surgery and care you received in the hospital that you can take for your medical records. NOTE! This is different from the post surgery instruction sheet. This is a summary of the actual surgery and you are entitled to have it. And it can be very important to have for that inevitable question on some form later on in life where they ask you to list ‘all surgeries you have previously had’
- Written discharge instructions – this is the one that most people are familiar with. It’s the 2-3 page summary showing all the special instructions for your diet, activity level and care at home. Don’t leave the hospital without it! And make sure you ask questions if there is information on it that is not clear
- A few supplies – often the hospital will allow people to take some specialized supplies home with them, for example, a staple remover to give to your family doctor, or special gauze pads that fit your wound. You won’t know for sure what you can have unless you ask… so make sure to ask!
- Instructions for making an appointment with your surgeon – Make sure you know how to get in touch with your surgeon. Also if a follow-up appointment is part of your discharge instructions, make this appointment as soon as you get home.
- Information about who to call in case of questions – Get a name and a number! You’ll thank yourself later. And just in case you’re stuck, you can always give us a call and we’ll help you track down answers.
Remember above all else to advocate for yourself! If you’re unsure about something or have questions make sure that you get them answered before moving forward!
Surgery seems scary going in but with the right plan it doesn’t have to be that scary at all. If you have any questions please give us a call and speak to one of our passionate RN care managers today – we’d love to help!