Preparing Your Body for Surgery
No one wants to have surgery; surgery just happens to be the best option sometimes. Prior to lying buck-naked on an operating table while being probed with sharp objects, you need to think about how the operation can have the most chance for success. A foundation for success really relies on cornerstones - four cornerstones to be exact.
The first cornerstone for surgical success is the surgeon. The second is your physical health. In turn, the third cornerstone is mental health, namely a positive mental attitude. And finally, you should plan to have a little help in your corner. With these four cornerstones properly planned and laid out, your surgery is more likely to be a success, rather than a failure.
Your Surgeon: Checking qualifications and reference seems to be standard practice in the business world, but not necessarily in the medical world. Every surgeon has certain limitations, although he/she would usually not admit that. Besides looking at a Curriculum Vitae and talking with the surgeon, I encourage prospective surgical candidates to talk to other professionals in the area. Talk with your doctor, your physical therapist or a nurse at the hospital. These conversations are just like checking the references within the professional community. With diligent research, you can then be assured you have the right surgeon in your corner.
Your Health: A speedy, successful recovery depends on good physical health. Preparing your health is best started as soon as possible; three months prior to the surgery is good, six months prior to the surgery is better. The longer your health has been optimized, more likely you will come through surgery with flying colors. Specific tasks you want to work on before having an operation include: quit smoking, lose weight, improve nutrition, take vitamins, and control diabetes. If you enter the operating room in poor health, your chances of having complications and failures increase substantially. Besides the need to prepare for surgery, health should be a cornerstone of your life now and in the future.
Your Attitude: Anxiety and other negative thoughts can interfere with recovery from a surgery. The immune system does not work well when the body is mentally stressed. The tissue healing responses do not react well when under stress. Thus, stress reduction techniques are widely utilized in preparation for surgery. In fact, research has shown that the addition of relaxing music can reduce anxiety levels just as well as pre-operative medications, but without the risks. Other positive energy creating activities include visualization techniques, breathing techniques and mantras. As the mind plans for and creates its own reality of success, the body is more likely to follow. Because of deleterious effects of stress on the body, a relaxed, positive attitude is a cornerstone for surgical success.
Your Help: Depending on the extent of your surgery, you may need to plan for a little help afterwards. Friends, neighbors, home health care professionals and family members can help with everything from the mundane activity of fetching the newspaper to the complexities of caring for a pet. We all need a little help once and a while especially after surgery. With less to worry about, you can then concentrate on getting better, successfully.
Although some individuals are fortunate enough to avoid surgery their entire lives, for many surgery does happen. You do not want it to happen to you. But in the event that it does happen to you, some proper prior planning can help your surgery be successful. The four cornerstones of surgical success include: your surgeon, your health, your attitude, and your help. Ultimately, each and every one of these modifiable risk factors is your responsibility to lay in place as part of your foundation for success. By setting these four cornerstones in place beforehand, you might have the best chance to avoid failure and experience surgical success.
Christina Lasich, M.D., wrote about chronic pain and osteoarthritis for HealthCentral. She is physiatrist in Grass Valley, California. She specializes in pain management and spine rehabilitation.