Here at the Seckin Endometriosis Center, we take great pride in our relationships with our patients, and sometimes what they can tell you about their experience can be just as informative and helpful. Therefore, to inform you of what to expect in the days and months leading up to surgery, we offer you an article that one of our own patients wrote. It is important to note, however, that not every patient is the same. One woman’s routine the weeks prior to surgery, may not be exactly the same as another. However, what we admire through this honest post, is how the patient came up with a regime that was right for her and made her comfortable for her day of surgery.
Allie’s blog-post on preparation before your surgery?
Unfortunately, surgery is something that every endometriosis patient has to endure in order to find lasting relief for constantly recurring symptoms. The phrase many doctors use to introduce surgery is, "Well, let’s go in and take a look." Sounds simple enough, but there are deeper implications of what that means to the patient. I just recently I had my 6th endometriosis surgery, an excision surgery with the Seckin Endometriosis Center. The idea of having surgery means something very different to me now than when I first learned I had to have my appendix out almost a decade ago. I don’t know if I have gotten better at having surgery or if it is just that I now have a better surgeon, but these past couple of recoveries have been a lot smoother overall. I also attribute my post-op success to knowing what to expect during surgery and being able to physically and mentally prepare for it. So without further ado, here are five things I do before any surgery:
Get your body ready: My past surgery was an extensive one, so I wanted to make sure I was in the best shape possible shape going in. I tried to go for walks when I felt up for it just to get my body moving and feeling strong. I made sure I drank at least 64 ounces of water every day starting two weeks before the surgery to be nice and hydrated. Drinking so much water also made my bowel prep go smoother! I went to my chiropractor faithfully leading up to the surgery knowing that surgery and recovery are often rough on my back. I made sure I had enough sleep and tried to eat as best as I could. I made sure I remembered to eat my multivitamin daily and tried to eat foods rich in iron. I also took the time to get a bikini wax. After my first emergency laparoscopy in the dead of winter, I was shocked to learn that a nurse had to “prep my pelvic area” via a bic razor. I now go in prepared.
Get your house ready: Before all of my surgeries, I have certain chores I like to do beforehand that will my make my life easier when coming home from the hospital. I wash all the bed sheets in the house the day before surgery. I love coming home from the hospital to clean sheets. I also make sure I have fresh towels available. I also do all of my laundry and make sure I have a top dresser drawer dedicated to post-op clothes. In it, I have loose pants, cotton shirts, clean underwear and comfortable bras. I also like to give the house a good cleaning pre-op, knowing it will be awhile before I have the energy to do it again. If you can have a friend or relative gift you a pre-op and post-op cleaning service, even better!
Shopping list: About two weeks before surgery, I like to create a master shopping list of things I will need post-op. I make sure I have all the food I need in the house in order to prepare for my bowel prep and other light foods I will eat immediately post-op. I take an inventory of my clothing and note if I need an extra pair of sweatpants or a new pair of slippers. I make sure I have my favorite shampoo, deodorant, and moisturizer on hand. These little things make such a difference. I also make sure the house has plenty of things like toilet paper! Few things are worse than running out of toilet paper in the middle of bowel prep! I also make sure I have things to entertain myself. I often will go to the library beforehand and get a few good books to read or DVDs to watch.
Preparing Work: Hopefully, your job is understanding and respectful of your needed surgery and leave. It is so unfortunate that endometriosis is such a misunderstood disease and is not recognized by so many. I think the following questions are good to ask yourself when thinking about post op work: are you able to work from home post-op? Can you start back with half days? Is there work you can do ahead of time to make things run smoother when you are gone? Are you able to be honest with your boss on what kind of surgery you are having? Can a co-worker cover for you? I always find having a work plan before the surgery leads to much less anxiety post-op.
Preparing emotionally: A patient often feels a lot of anxiety and sometimes even sheer panic when faced with an impending surgery. For weeks leading up to my past surgery, whenever I would become anxious I would take a little medication. I would take a deep breath in and say in my mind, “breath in peace,” and as I exhaled I would say, “breathe out stress.” I would repeat that until I felt calmer. I also made it a point to schedule a meeting with my therapist to talk about the stress and anxiety about the surgery a few weeks before. Reaching out to family and friends is also a big part of being emotionally supported. About a week before surgery, I made sure I sent an email out to close friends and family explaining what I was going through and how they could help. Like many other endometriosis patients, I value my independence and have a hard time accepting a lot of help. Obviously, when you have surgery accepting help is inevitable. I am not sure what I would have done without people cooking for me and my family, going shopping, sending me cards and taking me to post op appointment in those first weeks. It was nice to feel their emotional support.
Excision surgery is currently the best way to help improve the quality of life for an endometriosis patient. Although it can seem daunting, I have found often the anticipation of endometriosis surgery is sometimes worse than the actual surgery and recovery itself. Mindfully preparing for endometriosis surgery, both physically and emotionally, can often help with those pre-op jitters and lead to a less stressful recovery period. So try not to stress, you are truly in good hands.”
What are the universal takeaways of this story for pre-surgery prep?
Stay physically active - Just by making sure to walk a mile or so every day can mean a great deal come the day of your surgery, especially in terms of recovery time.
Stay hydrated - As Allie notes, staying hydrated is both beneficial for health purposes and makes bowel prep the day right before your surgery much easier.
Be well rested - Sleep is always key and surgery is no exception.
Ensure comfort post-surgery - Whether it was prepping her life at home or at work, Allie made sure that before her surgery she would feel comforted and minimize the stress she would feel post surgery. This is key, especially if patients want to ensure their quickest recovery time.
Prepare emotionally - This is why I say that not every patient is the same. This can mean something different for every patient, but it is nevertheless beneficial to your recovery and future health to minimize any emotional distress or anxiety you may feel about your surgery. So do your best in identifying what stresses you and look for ways you can minimize that so you feel stress-free throughout this process.
What instructions do we advise the day before surgery?
Have a light/normal breakfast.
Have a light lunch.
Drink lots of clear liquids during the entire day.
At 5 pm limit dinner to clear liquid dinner (ex.broth, jello, liquids, etc.)
At 12:30 pm drink 10 ounces Magnesium Citrate either straight or mixed. You will develop diarrhea. It can happen as quickly as 30 minutes or up to several hours. Continue with clear liquids up until 12:00 midnight.
You will be given 1 white pill, Cytotec. Insert this pill vaginally at 12 pm the day before your surgery. This may cause slight cramping or vaginal bleeding. This is normal.
Do not eat or drink anything after 12:00 AM (midnight)
What is necessary to buy pre-surgery?
The following is what we call our “pre-surgery shopping list” for endometriosis patients, which we provide to all of our patients once their surgery has been scheduled:
One 10 ounce bottle of Magnesium Citrate: This is used the day before your surgery in order to clear the bowels and ensure there is minimal to no stool in the intestines. It can be mixed with other clear liquid beverages, such as ginger ale, sprite or Gatorade. This is best to drink cold or with ice.
Gas-X: This medication is taken after surgery to minimize feelings of bloatedness due to the carbon dioxide gas that is put into the abdomen during surgery.
Collace: A mild stool softener that we recommend to our patients following surgery, to help with restoring bowel movements.
Personal items: As you have read above, every patient is different and therefore every patient finds comfort through their own means. We recommend creating a list of groceries, objects, etc. that will provide you comfort and eliminate stress as you prepare for surgery. We also advise a “post-surgery shopping list,” as you should not be going out to shop right after your surgery. Below is a list of such things that we frequently hear from our patients helped them relieve some of their stresses.
Entertainment: books, movies, etc. that help you to relax
Remember, it is normal and healthy to feel a bit anxious, especially if this is your first surgery. But throughout this experience, keep in mind that here at the Seckin Endometriosis Center we are focused on planning out a personalized surgery that is uniquely catered to your individual case. We are here to work for you, whether that is pre-surgery or in the operating room. Our door is always open to our patients, especially when it comes to answering any questions and concerns they may have.