Preparing for Surgery

There are many things that one has to prepare for in life but planning for surgery is something one needs to do in order to get through it. Most important is to be emotionally and physically ready for what is to come. I find that doctors don’t adequately prepare their patients for surgery. Often, they leave out the most important details. Information is key to a successful result.

Living alone, I did not have someone who could get me things once I came home from the hospital. The internet is great in seeking out a variety of information and I found a great many sources where people shared their experiences. In one case, I found speaking to a person who actually had a Vitrectomy very helpful.

My first surgery was a Tonsillectomy but at four my parents took responsibility for my care. But, the surgeries that I had as an older adult were very different. The Vitrectomy that I had to correct a macular hole in my left eye was a real challenge. I was awake for this procedure and lasts at minimum 45 minutes to one hour. It was strange not being able to see through this eye during surgery and experience no pain. What was difficult was staying still and the recovery period that followed.

Recovery for a Vitrectomy is very challenging. I had to prepare for everything ahead of time. After surgery, your head has to stay in a downward position till the doctor tells you can sit up. They put an air bubble in your eye that will close the macular hole. This means one has to eat, sleep and be with your head facing downward all the time. Luckily, I only had to do this for 9 days but some patients have had to do this longer.

I had to rent furniture so that I could stay with my head facing down and it is really a boring experience. I had a special chair that is like the massage chairs to sit in. I had a special mirror to watch TV and borrowed a number of audio books from the library to pass the time. I even borrowed my father’s old walker to move around my apartment to help me keep my head down. I put a stool by my kitchen sink so it would be easier to bend over when brushing my teeth or cleaning up. I even took up some rugs so I would be able to move about easier.

Sleeping was the hardest thing. I had to put my head in a donut ring and prop my head up above the mattress to sleep downward. I did not get much sleep. I had to prepare meals ahead of time and bought foods that I could eat with my head downward. I froze meals that I could easily pop into the microwave to heat up. I used a straw for drinking and disposable plates, cups and utensils so I didn’t have to wash up after. This took a lot of preplanning.

Doctors do not tell you about the medications you will have to take till after the surgeries (determined after surgery) so I had my doctor fax a pharmacy that I use that delivers.

I had to make arrangements to get to the hospital for the Vitrectomy as well as the trip home. My mother came with me and I had to arrange for her to go with me. I live in White Plains and she lives in Yonkers. My father needed looking after and my brother was nice enough to volunteer to watch him when my mother was with me. My brother lives in Delaware.

Out of all the surgeries I have had, the Vitrectomy was the most difficult. For me I found that some of the same measures that I took then, could be applied to all procedures and surgeries that I had after.. Being prepared is the most important thing and plan accordingly.

  1. Know what to do before the surgery. Watch videos and do research. Get all the things one will need ahead of time. Be ready with transportation and to having an escort home. Have a pharmacy ready to deliver needed medicine that Doctor asks you to take or apply after surgery.
  2. Prepare the home or location of recovery period for your needs after the surgery. Plan and prepare for meals appropriate for the type of surgery one is having. Have numbers in your mobile or land phone that you might need.
  3. Know the recovery time needs and consult with your Surgeon when things come up.