Some of us get lucky and go through life needing no surgery more complicated than wisdom tooth extraction. But not everyone will be that lucky. Pregnant women, for instance, have a roughly 1 in 3 chance of delivering via C-section. That’s major abdominal surgery, even if it’s a very common procedure. Another study found that Americans average 9.2 surgical procedures over a typical lifetime, though it’s important to note that not all of those are things like major brain surgery. Things like cataract surgery and angioplasties are much more common. While TV shows depict unconscious patients being rushed into an operating room, the reality is different. Most of the time, we have a fair amount of advance notice before we go under the knife, which gives us more time to prepare both physically and mentally.
Surgery is scheduled
Once you and your doctor look at the calendar and agree on a date for your procedure, you’ll probably be given a list of pre-op instructions. These can include everything from shaving certain parts of your body to not eating anything the night before you’re admitted. It’s really important to follow the rules exactly as they’re written. If you do slip up and have a muffin the morning of your surgery, tell your doctor. It’s better to delay the surgery than risk your health (although that may not even be necessary, since some hospitals have relaxed their pre-op fasting requirements in recent years).
Try to educate yourself yourself as much as possible without freaking yourself out, which is an admittedly fine line to walk. Your surgeon should tell you to contact him or her if you have any questions, and they’re not saying that just to be polite. So if you feel unclear about a certain aspect of spinal surgery happening in Summit, NJ, then contact your doctor’s office and ask for more information.
Recovery and beyond
When you wake up in the recovery room and get the post-op report, you’ll probably feel a sense of relief overpowered by grogginess, especially if the surgery required you to be given a lot of anesthetic. Don’t be afraid to use the pain medicine you’re given; it’s there for a reason. You don’t want to develop an overreliance on it, but that’s not likely to become a problem in the initial hours after surgery. If you’re concerned, talk to your doctor or nurse, but don’t let your desire to seem tough override your common sense.
Recovery can be a long, slow process, so it might be a good time to think more about the circumstances behind whatever injury or ailment led you to the operating room. If someone else’s negligence resulted in you getting hurt,, then you may be able to file a personal injury suit. Those can be initiated at almost any point in the recovery process, although each state has different time limits. The Bethlehem, PA-based personal injury law office of Thomas, Conrad, & Conrad lists three types of personal injury liability: intentional, negligence, strict, and premises. Do some research on your own while you’re stuck in bed and then, once you’re on the mend, set up a free or low-cost initial consultation with a local attorney. You may entitled to recover some of your medical costs, lost wages, or both.