When it comes to preparing for surgery, there’s so much to consider. From transportation plans to remembering to pick-up those all-important prescriptions, there are countless different tasks you can easily forget to take care of ahead of time—especially when you’re anxious and overwhelmed about going under anesthesia. To help you on your quest to ensure a smooth procedure and seamless recovery (sans unwelcome surprises!), we’ve rounded up the top 10 mistakes patients make when preparing for surgery. Read on to learn how you can plan for and avoid each.
- Putting off buying crucial supplies
Whether it’s a heating pad, ice packs, ace bandages, or medications, properly preparing for surgery means stocking up on everything you’ll need to recover in comfort ahead of time. And, by “ahead of time”, we mean at least 2-3 days before your surgery. Patients often procrastinate when it comes to buying the supplies they need for recovery, only to find the drug store is sold out of them the night prior. You don’t want to be stuck without crucial supplies and meds, so be sure to purchase everything you need a minimum of 48 hours in advance. (This includes filling any post-op prescriptions ahead of time, so you don’t have to worry about waiting for your pain meds to be filled when you need them most upon waking from surgery.)
- Being too shy to ask your doctor questions
We get it: doctors are intimidating. They tend to use confusing jargon or medical terms we don’t fully understand—and they’re often extremely busy, which can often make us feel like we’re a burden if we ask questions. But a good physician will understand that answering your pre-surgery questions is a crucial part of her or his job. We recommend having a list of questions to ask prepared ahead of your pre-op appointment. Bring them with you in digital or print form, and ask away at your appointment (and be sure to record the answers clearly!). Asking questions may be intimidating, but it’s absolutely essential—especially when it comes to keeping up your end of the bargain as far as recovery goes: be sure you understand when and how you’re supposed to change your dressings, what meds you should take and when, etc.
- Not securing a back-up ride
We’ve seen this one happen more often than you may think: you have a ride to-and-from the surgical center secured…only to find out your driver had a last-minute emergency and can no longer take the wheel, so to speak. Be sure you have a Plan B in place to avoid this. Communicate with a back-up driver ahead of time and let her or him know when they can expect to hear from you with the final word on whether or not they’ll be needed.
- Not prepping your house for your homecoming
When it comes to preparing for surgery, so many of us forget this crucial step—only to come home exhausted (and out of it from anesthesia!) and have to move pillows and blankets around, set up our spot near the TV, etc. Save your post-surgery self the trouble by preparing an area for your recovery ahead of time. Make sure everything you need is easily accessible in one area (your laptop, charging cords, television remotes, books, pillows, blankets…even a cooler with water and other items is a great idea to have nearby).
- Not asking your doctor about a fluid fast in place of “nothing after midnight”
So many patients think they still have to fast before surgery, but more and more medical research is pointing to the fact that hydrating and nourishing with a clear, complex-carb-rich preop drink is a much safer and healthier choice. If your doctor recommends the old-school method of fasting from midnight, be sure you ask her or him about the option to consume a preop drink like ClearFast instead. Nourishing with a presugery drink (and we’re talking an actual presurgery drink—not the flavored sugar water that is sports drinks) has a whole host of proven benefits, including: making you feel less stressed and more comfortable prior to surgery (because you’re not starved and dehydrated), making IV “sticks” easier and less painful (veins are easier to find when we’re properly hydrated), reducing your chances of post-op nausea and vomiting, reducing your risk of surgical infection, and enhancing your recovery time. (Psst..you can read more about why you shouldn’t fast before surgery here.)
- Not requesting enough time off
It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be the hero. You think, I’m tough—I’ll recover faster than the doctors say! I don’t need to take that much time off work! But recovering from surgery has nothing to do with your physical “toughness”—no matter how strong or healthy you are, going under anesthesia is a major physical and mental stressor…and you need to allow yourself an ample amount of time to recover from that before you dive right back into your daily routine. Always play it safe when requesting time off work by asking for more—not less—time than you think you may need. If you’re able to go back sooner, great—but it’s far better than not requesting enough time off and having to make a last-minute call to your boss to request more time off.
- Keeping it a secret from important people in your life
When it comes to preparing for surgery, this may be the most common mistake of them all. So many of us don’t want to worry our loved ones when we’re going under the knife—so we opt to not mention our upcoming procedure at all. Although rare, surgery can have its complications—and, should something unexpected happen, the last thing you want is for the people you love the most to be completely unaware of your situation, what hospital you’re in, how to find you, which doctor’s care you’re under, etc.
- Neglecting to ask for much-needed help
For complicated procedures or those that have a longer recovery time, you may need someone to come by your house to help out with daily tasks as you recover (or even just to feed your dogs or water your plants while you’re still in the hospital). Don’t feel like you’re a burden on someone by asking—close friends and family are our close friends and family for a reason: they want to help us when we’re in need. If you feel like you won’t be able to move around very well after your surgery, consider asking for a home helper ahead of time—whether that means having them grocery shop for you, walk your dogs, or even just bring you the occasional meal (or chocolate milkshake, of course!).
- Stocking up on sports drinks for recovery
Somewhere along the line, we all got the idea that dyed sugar water was the ultimate in recovery nutrition. But, it turns out, your body needs something a little different than simple sugar and harmful colored dyes to recover after surgery. ClearFast is chock-full of ingredients that make for enhanced recovery after surgery, like electrolytes (for optimal hydration), Zinc and L-Citrulline (properties that help heal), Vitamin A (to support health and tissue function), and selenium (a trace mineral that acts as an antioxidant and contributes to healthy immune function). Replace your sugary sports drinks with a beverage that’s rich in complex carbs and offers medical-grade hydration for optimal nutrition and a faster, easier recovery.
- Not paying attention to the importance of scheduling
Did you know that early morning surgeries tend to go smoother than late-in-the-day ones? And have you ever heard that a good rule of thumb is to avoid July surgeries like the plague? Something so many people don’t realize when preparing for surgery is the importance of smart surgery scheduling. On top of knowing when to schedule your surgery from a statistics and success-rate perspective, you also want to consider your own lifestyle. Don’t go under for a procedure right before a big work deadline or planned travel unless it’s absolutely imperative, and if you’re having something done that requires you stay out of the sun for a while, you obviously don’t want to go in for surgery during hot summer months.
Overall, preparing for surgery takes a whole lot of smart planning and prepping, but it’s totally worth it when your recovery is made that much easier! If you’re ready to head into surgery like a champ, you can order your ClearFast Presurgery Drink here. And, as always, don’t hesitate to reach out to the ClearFast team at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions at all. We’re always here and happy to help!