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  • Writer's pictureIt’s Complicated

A quick guide to having surgery

So you received the call with a surgery date, now what?

I tend to panic and feel overwhelmed at first because now it's all real. So much to do so little time.

My whole surgery ordeal started in October 2023, when I got my 1st date, but pre-op ended up cancelling it as I'm high risk and they needed more info. However, when they gave me the date, I started buying things I need, which made life a little easier for now.

I'm going to break this down so it's easy to understand. I will also create mini resources with all this information split up into prep and recovery.

  1. Date confirmed

  2. Make sure the hospital has all the information they need about you for the surgery. For example, I need to have a catheter during surgery so I needed to make sure they ae are aware of this and why I need it to avoid any issues

  3. Figure out how much time you have between now and then to do the things you need

  4. Create a 'to do' list

  5. Check to see what you already have

  6. Create a 'to buy' list

  7. Inform your manager at work and anyone else who may need to be informed

  8. Ask your doctor for a sick note for work (you can guess a rough end date and can always get another note if you need to be off longer)

  9. Check you have stock of all your medicines and order more if needed

  10. Go over food you may need (sometimes you're required to change your diet a few days before)

  11. Check to see if you require bowel prep

  12. Ensure you have all the correct information you need for surgery prep. e.g. what time to stop eating etc.

  13. Tie up any work stuff you need to do

  14. Tie up any other work you need to do

  15. Make arrangements for where you will stay

  16. Make sure someone is available to take care of you after the surgery

Basic things to pack:

  • Comfortable and loose clothing

  • Underwear

  • Slippers

  • Medicines

  • Pain relief including heat patches, TENS machine etc

  • Chargers (long wires are helpful if you're staying in hospital)

  • Book/laptop (depends on if you're staying in hospital)

  • Snacks for after

  • Toiletries

  • Peppermint tea and ginger candies

  • Any comfort items you want

Before surgery, other than my long to do list, I like to clean my room, sort and organise my things to include anything I may need access to and ensure they're reachable once I'm home, get a haircut and have an everything shower.

For this surgery I need to take bowel prep which will empty my bowel out for surgery. As the hospital is a little far from home (with bowel prep it feels further than it is and last time I was struggling in the car and needed to keep stopping for the toilet!) I will be staying at a hotel close to the hospital. I will be taking all my things with me and anything I don't need in the hospital I will give to my family when they arrive the morning of the surgery. Bowel prep can be awful so one thing I like to do is mix it with lemon squash. I also like to drink it through a straw slowly with sips of water in between. The multiple toilet trips can make your bottom very sore so sudocrem is nice to have to apply to your bottom.

Due to me being a complex patient I need to stay in the hospital for a few days and maybe longer if they need to fiddle with my bowel a lot - the length of the stay would depend on what happens during surgery. This is not the case for everyone, and normally surgery for Endometriosis/exploratory laparoscopy is considered a day surgery unless it becomes extensive.

Recovery looks different for everyone, and for me it can be a while before I can go back to my 'normal' life. I have EDS and Autonomic Dysfunction meaning my healing is slower than others and I'm very prone to complications. Last time, it took me 2 months to sit upright without pain! This will be a bigger surgery but I'm going to try and not stress about my recovery and will just focus on healing. I will need to take my time to move as with Dysautonomia, patients who have surgery cannot be moved quickly like they do with other patients as our blood pressure can become a problem. One day at a time.

Surgery, whether big or small, is quite scary. It is okay to have big feelings and be anxious, nervous, or scared. It is important to be kind to yourself and remember you can't prepare for absolutely everything, and to also remember to not compare your journey to anyone else's. Do the best you can, whatever that looks like for you.


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