Any surgery can cause an upheaval in your life. The best way I’ve found to counter this is to be prepared. Do as much as possible before surgery, so you can relax and focus on recovery after surgery. Let’s go over some areas you can clear out of your way before your surgery – a preparing for surgery checklist if you will.
Consulting With Your Doctor – More Than Saying Ahhhhh
Before meeting with your doctor, on that last in-op appointment, make a list of questions. How long does he expect you to stay in the hospital? When will you be able to drive? What activities will you be unable to do after surgery? How long does he expect you to be off work? When should you make your post-op appointment? Will there be physical therapy?
Any question you have, write it down and take the list with you to that appointment. Now is also an excellent time to see if he/she will call in your prescriptions so you can pick them up before surgery.
Insurance – The Necessary Evil or Thank Goodness You Have It?
Before your surgery, you want to find out if your doctor and hospital are in or out of your insurance network. One time I was shocked – the hospital I was in was an in-network facility, but what a surprise when I got a bill from one of the doctors that tended to me – he was out-of-network.
I called my insurance company and asked why the doctor would be out-of-network when the hospital I went to was in-network. The insurance representative’s reply was, “you have the choice when you go in the hospital not to use an out-of-network doctor.” I had no idea – I had just assumed since the hospital was in-network, then everything would then be covered as in-network.
Another example I have is when my primary care doctor ordered blood work. I was in his office, never left his office; they drew blood in his office. I was shocked again when I found the doctor had sent my blood work to an out-of-network lab. It didn’t seem right to me, but it did to the insurance company.
You also want to find out what your deductible is for both in-network and out-of-network services. Have you reached your out-of-pocket maximum, or do you still have to pay out-of-pocket until you reach it? Once you find this out, at least there is less room for surprises. You more than likely will be asked to pay any deductible you haven’t reached upfront before the surgery.
Double-check and be sure your insurance has preapproved your surgery and hospital stay. Also, find out how many days post-op has been approved for your hospital stay. Again, you don’t want any surprises. It’s a good idea to keep track of your medical expenses as they come up, so you will have them handy come tax season.
Important Documents – I Don’t Want to Think About Them
As you’re preparing for surgery, you should make sure you have some documents completed. If you already have them completed, you should check them to see if any updates are needed. What documents am I talking about? I wrote an article, “5 Legal Documents Everyone Should Have.” It goes more in-depth into these types of documents.
- In layman’s terms, a Will states how your money and property should be distributed after your death.
- Revocable Living Trust
- This is a written agreement where you designate someone to manage your property. The reason it’s called “living” is that you create it while living. It’s “revocable” because you can change it at any time, as long as you are mentally competent.
- Advance Directive & Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
- This is an important document as you are giving someone the power to make your healthcare decisions if you become unable to make them for yourself. Your wishes and thoughts should be included, so the person you assign to make these decisions is clearly informed as to what you want and for them to act accordingly.
- Financial Power of Attorney
- This document allows you to appoint someone to take care of financial matters if you are unable to do so.
I wrote a comparison of two computer software products for legal documents, Quicken Willmaker & Trust Basic vs Premium 2021. You might find the article beneficial if you are considering a software program to complete these and other documents yourself.
If you have any questions or doubts about what financial documents are right for you, please consult with an attorney.
What About You? Yes, You.
Above, we discussed what to include in your surgery checklist. Now I want to go over what you can do to have yourself/your body be bettered prepared for surgery.
Surgery can bring up a whole host of feelings and emotions, including nervousness, anxiousness, fear, depression, to name a few. These feelings are quite common and normal. The best way to get through all those emotions and feelings is to face them head-on. If you feel the need, be sure to talk to someone – be it a friend, a spouse, clergy, or therapist. Don’t try to squash those feelings and emotions or pretend they don’t exist – that won’t help the situation.
Meditation can also relieve some of the nervousness. If you haven’t meditated before, it’s an excellent time to learn – it can’t hurt right.
Get as much rest as you can before surgery. After surgery, you will be in pain and probably won’t sleep soundly at first. Get your sleep, and don’t get run down.
Don’t ignore your nutrition. Eat healthful foods. If you’re not sure what healthful foods are, go to the good old food pyramid. You won’t be able to eat or drink before your surgery. Be sure to get your last meal in before the time the medical staff gives you to stop eating/drinking, which is usually, but not always, midnight before surgery.
Last but not least, don’t forget to buy products that will help you after your surgery and you’re on the road to recovery. See my article entitled, Post Surgery Supplies to see some options.
Other Ways to Prepare
Find someone who will take and pick you up from the hospital. You won’t be able to drive yourself home. I know I couldn’t take a cab or uber, so be sure you make arrangements to get home.
Find someone to stay with you for a few days. You will be groggy, and if you need assistance, someone will be there to help you.
Also, either make up some meals and freeze them before you go into the hospital. Another option is to have meals delivered to you. It’s nice coming home to meals and not having to worry about trying to cook while recovering.
See if your doctor will call in any prescriptions early so you can pick them up beforehand. You won’t feel like stopping at the pharmacy on the way home from the hospital.
Don’t forget to get a pet sitter for all your animals. They’ll need someone to feed them, and also having someone there will make them more comfortable when you are gone – remember they will miss you. If possible, have the person who will take care of your pets meet them beforehand; this way, your pets will be familiar to them. Also, at this meeting, give the pet sitter any instructions necessary for your pet’s care.
If you use a petsitting service, I advise getting a camera. I did this for my last surgery and was able to see my fur babies. Still, maybe, more importantly, I knew when the pet sitter came to my home- to my dismay, I heard my pet sitter arguing with her boyfriend. I was able to text her and ask if she needed help. I told her beforehand there would be a camera, but apparently, she forgot about it. So at least I was able to let her know I knew he was there, and they were being monitored.
Are You Ready? – I Bet You Are
Those days leading up to surgery can bring an array of emotions and feelings. They are normal, and you are normal to have them. Preparation is one of the best ways to enter surgery. Taking the steps above will make you more prepared, and you will be less stressed on the day of surgery.
Here is your preparing for surgery checklist – add to it as you think of other things you have to do.
- In-Network – Out of Network
- Revocable Living Trust
- Advanced Directive and Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare
- Financial Power of Attorney
- Mental health
- Post-surgery supplies
- Pet Care
Preparing for Surgery can seem overwhelming. I hope with reading the Preparing for Surgery Checklist you gained some insight into some things to take off before your surgery so you can have a more relaxing, productive recovery.
What experience or tips do you have for pre-surgery? Comment below.