Please explain exactly what will be happening during the surgery?
This is extremely important. You must go into surgery with confidence. You also need to know what is happening during the surgery so you’ll wake up ready to recover.
Who will be performing the surgery?
Many times surgeons either work together with a partner or work with surgical residents. Ask who your surgeon will be working with. There are times of the year when new residents are coming in, and you might want to plan your surgery around a time that you know you’ll have experienced residents.
Will I be seeing you after surgery? And while I am in the hospital?
This question sets the tone for your stay. Some doctors don’t have a good bed side manner, but this will set your expectations and make them clear. A good surgeon will want to see you each day during your recovery while you are in the hospital to see how you are doing.
How can I prepare my loved ones?
Your loved ones are, in a way, going into surgery with you. Make sure you are prepared to talk to them and let them know what will be happening. They should know what to expect, which will help them be there for you even more during your recovery.
Can you explain what life will be like after surgery?
Every person is different and every IBD case is unique. Make sure you go over with your surgeon exactly what to expect your recovery to be like and also what life will be like after it. This can drastically change depending on the type of surgery or in some cases the amount of intestines that are being resected. Make sure you understand the risks.
Is there a specialty nurse I should be talking to?
IBD surgery can completely change a person’s life. Before ostomy surgery, for example, every patient should talk to a WOCN nurse. This will prepare you for what life will be like and what to expect. It will also allow the nurse to prepare your body and even mark areas that are good for a stoma depending on what type of activities you do.
What will the plan be if I don’t heal well?
Many IBD surgeries are extremely hard to recover from. You don’t really understand how much you use your core every day until after abdominal surgery. Make sure you know what will happen if you don’t heal well. You may need to do to take care of an infection, or use a wound vac to have an area heal better.
Will I need a visiting nurse?
Sometimes after surgery you will need a visiting nurse at your home. This can be to help clean a wound, take care of an ostomy, or many other reasons. Make sure that you are prepared with a visiting nurse service that you are comfortable with. Get recommendations before surgery. Don’t be scrambling to take care of something like this after you get back from the hospital.
Do you have other patients I can reach out to with a similar case?
Many good surgeons will offer to have you talk to another patient before and after your surgery, someone who truly understands. If a doctor doesn’t offer this, don’t hesitate to ask. Knowing what it was like for another patient will be an amazing educational process for you to learn more about the surgery.
How will the pain be managed?
After any surgery there will be a certain level of pain. It is good to have a plan in place before your surgery for how you will be managing this pain. Sometimes an epidural can be used. It is also good to make sure your surgeon has a plan and the residents know that plan. Don’t allow a resident to step in and take away your much needed pain relief simply because it’s what they were recently taught in school. As we know, real life is different than a text book.