If you and your physician have decided you need to have surgery in your arm or hand, there are quite a few things you can do to prepare yourself for it.
Plan Your Schedule
Before scheduling for a surgery date, check your personal schedule and work schedule to allocate time for your surgery and recovery period. With hand surgery, the initial recovery period is projected to last anywhere from a few weeks to several months depending on the procedure.
You will need to adjust your routine and scheduled activities based on your recovery. Get major shopping, yardwork, house cleaning, and other chores out of the way – well ahead of time. The day before surgery might be stressful enough for you without adding extra activities, so plan accordingly.
Food and Help Arrangements
After the surgery, you will need help with transportation, food preparations, etc., so asking for a family member or a friend or arranging a care taker for help would be wise. If you cannot find any one for help then stock up on dinners, soups, snacks, and other foods than can be opened and prepared with one hand.
Put everything perishable in easy-to-open, disposable, and freezer-safe containers. Buy milk and other items in smaller, easier-to-handle sizes, and stock up on groceries for a week or two to cut down on shopping trips, which can increase hand pain and swelling in the recovery period.
Clothing and Wearables
Please wear loose, comfortable clothing such as T-shirts, loose sleeve shirt that can fit over bulky dressings and bandages following surgery.
Leave jewelry and valuables at home. Wear easy-to-get-on shoes, etc. Please do not wear make-up or lipstick – and no nail polish for intra-op monitoring purposes. You will likely have to remove eyewear, contacts, dentures, hearing aides, watches, rings, and any jewelry. It is best to leave everything that you can at home.
Tobacco and Drug Abuse
The truth is that quitting smoking just 4 to 6 weeks before your surgery – and staying smoke-free afterward – can significantly lower your risk of serious complications and help you recover more quickly.
It is best to avoid alcohol and any drug for that matter – for at least 48 hours before your scheduled surgery and even throughout the recovery period for your own safety and well-being.
Maintain Your Sugar Levels
Your diabetes may increase the risk for problems during or after your surgery. Work with your primary care physician to come up with the safest surgery plan for you. Focus more on controlling your sugar levels during the days to weeks before surgery. Your provider will do a medical exam and talk to you about managing your A1C. You may do better with surgery and get better faster, if your blood sugar is well-controlled during the surgery.
Manage Your Medications
Bring all of your current medications to your surgeon for review. Consult your physician for special instructions, if you are taking routine medications, insulin, or blood thinners. If the medication needs to be stopped, it should be done one to two weeks (7-14 days) before surgery, because it takes that long for a drug to be out of your system at most.
After the surgery, you should avoid all anti-inflammatory medications, including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and Naprosyn (Aleve) and any other prescription anti-inflammatories, unless your surgeon prescribes them. Do not resume these medications until your surgeon says that it is okay.
Prepare Yourself Mentally
If this is your first surgery or you are nervous about your surgery, talk to your surgeon about it and get all your questions answered. Minimize the stress on the surgery day by having a good sleep beforehand and leave plenty of time to get to the hospital.
Being confident and optimistic is the key to avoid the anxiety and depression. Sooth yourself with the activities you enjoy, such as listening to music, etc., to prepare yourself for the surgery and remember that this surgery might possibly be a life changer for you.
Surgery is likely to cause a temporary inability to use your hand or the extremity, and a little advanced planning can significantly improve your comfort after surgery. Consult your doctor and take the required steps that are mentioned above to make the whole process easier and to decrease risk of complications.