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If you are scheduled to have a surgical procedure, the wait may make you anxious. But there are some steps you can take to prepare yourself for surgery. Not only can these tips help put your mind at ease, they can also help reduce the risk of complications.

Pre-surgery

Before your surgery, you will have a pre-surgical visit with your surgeon. At this visit, you should be prepared to answer questions about your health. The answers to these questions will help the surgical team determine the safest plan of care which includes anesthesia options and medications for you. It will also affect any instructions they will give you immediately before and after your surgery. Make sure to mention all medications you take (even over-the-counter drugs and supplements) and your allergies. You should also tell your doctor if you smoke and/or drink alcohol.

Take notes about the procedure and be sure to ask your doctor any questions you make have. It is very helpful to bring a friend or family member who can take notes, drive and help with care at home.

The day of Surgery

If you have any concerns on the day of your surgery, our experienced team in addition to your doctor help address all of your concerns. It is important to wear comfortable clothing, take all jewelry off, avoid wearing makeup, have taken any medications you were instructed to take, and have not eaten or drank anything as instructed. You will also need an adult with you to drive you home to ensure your safety. You may want to ask your doctor or nurse about your post-surgery recovery and care. Some good questions to ask might be "When can I see my family?", "What medications should I take and when?" and "When and what should I eat?"

Post-surgery

The recovery period doesn't end when you are discharged from the surgery center. Your doctor will have a recovery plan for you and you will be given written instructions by your nurse prior to your dismissal. By following your doctor's orders for at-home care, you can help your body heal properly.

Please be sure to follow the instructions closely, which will include what you can or cannot eat and drink, your medications to take, your activity level and what to do for pain and an upset stomach. Be as active as possible to aid in healing and decrease the chance of blood clots. Everyone will experience pain with surgery. If the medication or comfort measures you received are not adequate to be comfortable, please call your doctor.

Surgery is safer than ever thanks to advanced medical technology and the many safety guidelines surgical teams follow. If you are scheduled for a surgical procedure, talk to your doctor about the best ways to prepare for your type of surgery.

Sue Hrnicek, MSN, RN, CNOR, is the surgical services director at Columbus Community Hospital.

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