Given a choice we would avoid entering any hospital. When you have a problem that needs an inpatient admission, the prospect can be unsettling and scary. Here is a short guide to help you to experience a smooth admission into a hospital.

Most of us are scared and try to avoid a visit to the hospital as much as possible. But when you have an illness, you need treatment and cure. Sitting at home will not help. So, you go to the doctor for a consultation. After examining you, the doctor will suggest the best line of treatment for you- It might be medicines or you would be advised to undergo surgery.

Taking medicines is easy. But, if the doctor suggests surgery, then you may feel scared, anxious, worried, nervous….the list goes on. The most important emotion you may feel is the Fear of the unknown – “Will I be fine? Will there be unbearable pain? Will I recover soon? Will I be back to normal?” 

Having a surgery and anaesthesia is indeed frightening. It is natural for you to experience a fear of the unknown. The thought of handing over your body (your life to be precise) to someone else is quite challenging and a tough decision to take. 

As a surgeon with over 30 years of surgical experience, I can assure you that – All this is normal and natural. 

Having said that, I also assure you that it is possible to overcome fear and anxiety. All it takes a right mix of trust, cooperation and understanding on your part. Have confidence on your healthcare workers. Be assured that you are in the best hands. And they will take good care of you. 

With this belief, you decide to get operated. And you get admitted to the hospital as instructed by your doctor. Congratulations, you have taken the first step in the right direction. Only few more steps to road to recovery. Don’t worry. You are not alone. And you shall never be. You have co-passengers in this journey of surgical care – Your healthcare team. 

During this period, your healthcare team will evaluate your overall health and work with you to manage any underlying conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension. Research shows that active participation and engagement of patients before and after surgery can affect the outcome of treatment. This is due to the fact that patient engagement implies shared decision making, active participation and effective communication of relevant medical information. All this would translate into providing safe and patient centric care and treatment. 

So, let us see what you can do to prepare yourself for surgery. 

Read this comprehensive guide to prepare yourself before surgery and to have a smooth admission to the hospital.

1. Accept your emotions 

Remember it’s perfectly normal to feel a little anxious and stressed before surgery. It is the natural human flight or fight response to stress. Instead of trying to fight these feelings, try to accept them and remind yourself that you are taking control of your health by going through with the surgery. When in doubt, reassure yourself that you are in capable and best hands. I am not advocating blind faith. you certainly should take efforts to make sure that you are in the right hospital and in the best of hands. 

Acknowledge. Accept. Act accordingly. 

2. Perform relaxation exercises 

Here are a few relaxation exercises that may help you cope with the stress of undergoing surgery:

  • Deep breathing exercises: Take slow, deep breaths and focus on your breath going in and out. This can help calm your mind and reduce anxiety. Just a doing this for a minute at a time has a calming effect. 
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: This exercise involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups to help release tension in the body.
  • Guided imagery: Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a peaceful and calming place. This can help you relax and feel more in control.
  • Yoga: Yoga can be a wonderful way to release tension and stress. You can try gentle yoga poses, which will help you to relax and focus on your breath.
  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness exercises such as meditation or writing down your thoughts can help you focus on the present moment and not to worry much about the upcoming surgery.

 Consult your doctor or surgeon before trying any relaxation exercises and yoga poses, particularly if you have any health conditions.

Mind your thoughts. Stay positive.

3. Follow proper diet 

During surgery, your body will go through a series of metabolic changes as it responds to the stress of the procedure. This includes release of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These changes are normal and are your body’s way of providing the necessary energy and blood flow to cope with the surgery and to help the healing process. 

Stay as fit as possible and eat a well-balanced diet. Make sure you drink plenty of water and fluids. Keep yourself active by exercising and walking. If your doctor has advised you practice any post operative exercises, make sure you do them regularly. 

Eat right. Exercise well. Heal faster. 

4. Stop smoking and consuming alcohol/tobacco

We have different ways of coping with stress. As surgery can be stressful, you may tend to lean towards smoking or consuming alcohol as stress busters. But if you are a smoker or a big fan of the bottle, here’s a little reminder: Overindulging in these habits before surgery can cause some major complications. 

Break the habit- Both your body (and your surgeon) will thank you for that!

5. Check your medications 

Continue your normal medications if you are taking any. Certain drugs like aspirin or blood thinners must be stopped prior to surgery. But don’t stop them on your own. First , inform your doctor about your medications. And get their advice about which medicines to stop taking and which to continue.

Be aware of what to take. Beware of what not to take. 

6. Read and review all instructions 

The doctor or a hospital staff may give you prescriptions, instruction leaflets, brochures or pamphlets. Don’t discard them without reading. They contain important information such as instructions that you should follow, contact information of hospital staff. Review and follow all the instructions. In case you miss out on any, inform your doctor as soon as possible. And, if you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or nurse. Get it clarified, so that you can avoid any misunderstanding.

Understand. Follow. Recover.

7. Get help

Make sure you arrange ahead of time for someone to be with you always in the hospital. Plan to get help for transportation to the hospital. Don’t forget that you will need help after you come back from surgery. Depending on the type of surgery it may be for a few days or to a few weeks.

Have a support system- That is what friends and family are for.

8. Ensure personal hygiene 

Follow common-sense hygiene practices. So, what exactly is this? Take bath using soap and water. You don’t have to use antiseptic soap(unless your doctor has advised you to). Inform your doctor if you have cold, cough or fever. 

Do not shave or wax your skin. Shaving before surgery results in small cuts or micro-abrasions in your skin. And this is exactly what a microorganism needs to grow and multiply. This would put you at a risk of post operative infections.

Do not wear nail polish, as this will interfere with the readings of the pulse oximeter. This is a machine which is applied on to your fingertips to measure the oxygen level of your blood during and after surgery.

Leave valuables and jewellery at home. it is best not to carry credit or debit cards and cash on you. If you must use them, give it to your family members who is accompanying you.

Wear loose-fitting clothes when you get admitted to the hospital. Most hospitals will provide separate hospital dress during your stay.

if you are using hearing aids or contact lens or any such aids and you are not absolutely dependent on them, it is better to leave them at home. However, if you do need them, tell your nurse that you are using them. If you have any dentures or medical devices like pacemakers or implants notify your nurse during admission.

Stay clean. Stay safe.

9. Pack essential items

When you are getting admitted to a hospital for surgery, there are several essential items you should bring with you. These items include:

  • Identification, such as a driver’s license or Aadhaar card
  • Insurance cards and approval documents.
  • A list of current medications, dosages and allergies.
  • Any relevant medical records, such as test results or previous surgical history.
  • Comfortable clothing and footwear to wear after the surgery.
  • Any necessary personal aids or prosthetics such as crutches, hearing aids, eyeglasses.
  • Toiletries, such as toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, soap and deodorant.
  • Items to help you pass time, such as a book, magazine or a tablet for entertainment.
  • Any special items for comfort, such as a pillow, blanket, or a special stuffed toy.
  • Advance directives or a living will, in case if you have already made one.

It is always a good idea to check with the hospital and the surgeon beforehand to see if they have any specific guidelines or restrictions on what patients can bring to the hospital.

Bring what is essential. Leave behind the unnecessary stuff.

10. Finally, be aware and engaged with your treatment

Patient engagement has been shown to have a positive impact on surgical outcomes. Studies have found that when patients are more actively involved in their care and decision-making, they tend to have better outcomes, such as less complications, fewer readmissions and faster recovery time. You can become more engaged by asking questions, being aware of your medications and taking active part in your treatment process. 

Ask questions. Get your doubts clarified. Participate in your treatment process. 

Before signing off I would like to tell you just this – Shift focus from complaining “Why did I(of all people) fall sick”? to acknowledging you are sick and asking yourself “What should I do to get well soon”? If you do this , you will no longer have the fear of unknown. You will find clarity and courage to travel the path that lays ahead of you – Surgery and recovery. And reach your destination – Which is your home sweet home. 

P.S : I wish you a complication free surgery and a speedy recovery. 

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