Most people get jitters when they hear the word surgery. It can be nerve-racking and daunting when anticipating surgery. Most of the time, the anticipation and anxiety is usually worse than the surgery itself. For endometriosis sufferers, the most definitive way to diagnose endometriosis is a laparoscopic surgery which involves cutting a hole through the abdomen and inserting an instrument with a camera to see the endometrial cells in the pelvic region (This article gives more information on ways to diagnose endometriosis).
Therefore, it is important to prepare yourself both mentally, emotionally and physically before going in for a laparoscopic surgery to either diagnose or treat endometriosis.
Before the Surgery
One or two weeks to your surgery, take steps to physically prepare so that you can minimise the emotional and mental stress that can come with having surgery. Below are some recommendations to take into consideration.
Going for a preoperative assessment:
A few days to your surgery, you will receive a letter to visit the hospital for a preoperative assessment. What this entails is a few tests to ensure your fitness for the surgery. You will receive a lengthy questionnaire which asks you about your family medical history, diseases or past conditions, medications, habits such as smoking, drinking etc. You will also have your height and weight measured, your temperature, oxygen saturation, blood pressure and a blood test done. For some patients who are deemed at risk of the MRSA bacteria, a swab is also taken.
MRSA is a bacteria that is resistant to various antibiotics and are harder to treat. See here for more information on the NHS website.
Putting your house in order:
Everyone is different and recovery can vary for everyone. It is a good idea to put your house in order, so that after surgery, you can focus on your recovery. Do your laundry, change your bed sheets and give the house a good cleaning. Also, prepare some comfortable outfits and underwear and put them in drawers/wardrobes that are easy to reach.
Shopping prior to surgery:
You do not want to stress during your recovery, therefore, do some food/grocery shopping prior. Make sure you have soups that can be easily heated, fruits and vegetables and natural juices that can help your body on the way to recovery. Some people can do with dry crackers or nuts.
What to pack for surgery:
Here is a list of things to pack when going for your surgery. Not everyone stays overnight after the procedure and it all depends on you, your appointment time, your situation and your recovery. However, it is good to be prepared in case you have to sleep over. Be sure to pack the following:
- Bottles of water
- Two sets of comfortable nightdresses/pyjamas
- A hot water bottle/heating pad
- Toothbrush and toothpaste/mouthwash
- Baby wipes/antibacterial wipes
- A hair comb and a mirror
- Lip balm
- A small flannel/towel
- Sanitary pads
- Magazines/Novels/Entertainment devices
- Soups e.g. chicken soup, noodle soup, tomato soup
- Some cash/ bank card and ID card.
A day before:
Before surgery day, eat light foods and stay hydrated. Try not to eat very late into the night. Drink a lot of water or other liquids in order to clear the bladder/bowel to make surgery and recovery easier. Do NOT drink alcohol prior to surgery. Pack your bags. Try not to leave left-over food out as it might spoil before you return.
On the day, remember not to eat or drink anything, especially if your surgery is before mid-day. Have a bath, do not use any deodorant. Remember to remove any nail polish on your fingers and toes. Try to remain calm.
When you get to the hospital, you will be admitted into the ward and given a bed. Before your surgery, the anesthetist who will be in the theater during your procedure will come and ask you a few questions and get to know you. Then your surgeon will also come and see you. It is a good idea to prepare and ask any questions you might have about the surgery. A nurse will also come and put a name tag on you, a a needle with a valve (called a cannula) in your arm. This is how the anaesthetic will be administered. When it is time, you will be given the hospital gown and knickers, collected and taken to the theater. You might also be provided with a pair of long and tight surgical stockings. This is usually to prevent the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis.
You will then lay on the operating bed/table, be given oxygen and then anesthesia which sends you off to a beautiful sleep. It is impossible to tell how long the surgery will take as it depends on what the surgeons find.
After the Surgery
Waking up from the surgery in the post-operative recovery room, the first thing you might notice is that your throat feels very dry and parched. This is usually because of the tube that has been passed down your throat. It will pass after a few hours/days. You will be wheeled back to your ward and the surgeon might come and have a quick chat with you about the surgery.
Drink as much water as you can but sip it slowly as some people might feel nauseous. This is normal so keep a sick bowl by your bed. You might also experience a lot of pain around your shoulder tips/your chest. This is due to the gas that has been pumped into the abdomen during the operation to give a better view. This gas pushes up against your diaphragm as it seeks a way to get out. This will eventually get better. You can drink peppermint tea to help with this.
As soon as you are able, try to stand up and walk around. This is good as it gets your body to begin the healing process. Try not to lie in bed all the time if you can help it. Also try to urinate and move your bowel to make sure everything is working fine. Ask for painkillers if needed. Also, don’t be alarmed if you find that you are spotting/bleeding from your vagina. This is absolutely normal and ceases after a few days.
Have toast/crackers if you can take it. Some people are okay with a bowl of oats. Take it easy and recovery will happen.
Remember that is it okay to be anxious before a surgery. However, it is important to ask as many questions as possible. Don’t be afraid to speak to the doctor about your worries or fears.