Undergoing any kind of surgery can be an extremely stressful thing, especially if you have not done your research. Fear not, as there are certain steps you can take to ease that stress, set yourself up to have a basic understanding of what lies ahead of you, and ultimately prepare you for a successful surgery.
The most important thing you can do to ease your mind is having confidence in your surgeon. Before committing to a specific surgeon, talk to your friends, family, or family doctor about referrals. Often times if you know someone who had a successful experience with a specific surgeon in the past, you will likely have a similar experience.
Surgeons are people just like you and can be one of your best resources for information. Your surgeon should be ready and willing to answer any questions or talk about any anxieties you may have regarding your surgery. If your surgeon is not willing to do that for you, that is a sign you should look for a different one. Of course, surgeons are busier than the average person, so always respect their time and profession. These seemingly small things can help to get your surgeon on your side, develop that relationship, and gain the much-needed knowledge on your surgery.
In almost all cases, find a hand surgeon that has a Certificate of Added Qualification (CAQ) in Hand Surgery. CAQ’s are an additional step surgeons can take to specialize and certify themselves in a specific procedure within their specialty. Practice makes perfect, as they say! Traveling a far distance may seem like an inconvenience, but it is more than necessary if it can make sure your surgery is a successful one.
Read and or listen to the pre-operative instructions. They matter! Many patients will neglect to do this, and feel as though their instructions are more so guidelines. This negligence can lead to a delay or cancellation of surgery. If they say don’t eat or drink anything after midnight, this includes your morning coffee!
On the day of your surgery, be sure to arrive on time. Hospital schedules are intricate things. Operating days involve many surgeries and are carefully planned out in terms of an allotted time for each procedure. A late patient can throw the whole schedule out of whack, upset the day’s progress and set the entire day back for the hospital.
It may seem like it goes without being said, but follow your post-operative instructions. They are instructions catered to you that are meant to provide you with a recovery that is both easier on you and speed your recovery time.
Dr. Arnold Peter Weiss is the R. Scot Sellers Scholar of Hand Surgery; Chief of Hand Surgery; Vice Chairman & Professor, Brown University.