Undergoing a medical procedure can be an extremely stressful thing to do, even if the procedure in question is relatively minor and non-invasive. If you’re not accustomed to spending time in a hospital setting, in particular, you’ll likely find the experience somewhat jarring, and difficult to wrap your head around.
Of course, some procedures will naturally be much more straightforward than others, and may not require overnight hospitalisation at all. If you’re visiting a vasectomy clinic, for example, you may well be in and out in virtually no time at all – and the overall recovery time required until you’re back to your usual state of being might be very minor.
And yet, even relatively minor and routine procedures, such as a tonsillectomy for example, or a wisdom tooth extraction, can leave you feeling significantly worse than you thought you would during the recovery phase. It’s also entirely possible that the recovery phase can, itself, drag on for several days, if not weeks.
Before you go through with a medical procedure, it’s important to prepare yourself mentally and physically for the process, and to get a good sense of what to expect from the procedure as a whole.
Often, applying the right degree of forethought and planning in this regard can go a very long way indeed to making the whole experience as manageable as possible, as well as far less stressful, than it might otherwise be.
So – if you are due to go in for a medical procedure of any sort that may require overnight hospitalisation, and / or a significant recovery period, here are a few tips for preparing yourself in advance, that might be helpful.
Figure out how much time you need to take off work
There are not many more irritating situations to be in than believing that a procedure that you’re going to undergo is going to have essentially no impact on your physical or emotional sense of well-being, and therefore failing to book enough time off work for adequate recovery, following the procedure.
Not only can this hamper your recovery in an of itself, but you’re also likely be performing your work to a significantly worse standard than you would otherwise, and it’s also likely that you will feel pretty bitter and displeased by the whole state of affairs, too.
Instead of allowing yourself to end up in this situation, it’s really worth erring on the side of caution, and booking some time off work for the recovery process, even if you initially think that you won’t need it. In fact, it’s generally a good idea to take at least a day or two off work, on either side of a weekend, to allow as much of a “buffer” as possible.
Of course, you don’t need to just “wing it” when trying to figure out how much time you should book of work. Instead, you should do your research, and have whatever discussions you feel might be helpful, in order to gain a reasonable idea of just how you might be affected by the procedure, and just how that might influence your overall state of well-being, and your ability to properly perform your duties at work.
Keep in mind that the point of taking this time off work isn’t, by any means, to take a “mini holiday.” Rather, it’s all about clearing your calendar as much as possible, so that you can rest and sleep off any ill effects you might be feeling, so that you can get back on your feet as soon as possible. That means, you also need to clear your calendar of social engagements that involve you getting out of the house to meet up with friends, or doing anything that’s likely to be potentially stressful.
Make plans with members of your support network in advance
If the procedure you’re undergoing is on the more serious and comprehensive side of things, it can be extremely helpful to make plans with members of your support network, in advance, in order to ensure that you have any help you might require at home during the recovery process, in addition to simply having a basic level of social interaction (in the form of people visiting you, rather than you going out) to help keep your spirits up.
Even some relatively “minor” and quick-to-perform procedures, such as laser eye surgery, may well require you to have people at hand who you can rely on, and who can help you through the process. You certainly shouldn’t be planning on driving yourself home from a laser surgery clinic, for example. And depending on the type of laser eye procedure you’ve had done, you might need to deal with effectively having little to no eyesight for a number of days afterwards.
If you live with family, or have a live-in partner, this will generally be a good deal easier than it would otherwise be. But – particularly if you are likely to be “laid up” for a while – it’s generally important that you don’t try to put yourself through the process entirely solo, if it can be avoided.
Plan ways to keep yourself entertained (and productive) during recovery
The idea of lounging around in bed for an extended period of time – whether that’s your own bed, or a bed in a hospital room – may seem kind of blissful, particularly if you are quite highly strung at your job, and are living a very busy and hectic lifestyle as a general rule.
Unfortunately, though, the “novelty” tends to wear off pretty quickly, and after about a day or two of doing nothing but napping, it’s pretty likely that you will be experiencing “cabin Fever” and wanting just about any form of distraction that might help you to get out of your own head, and entertain yourself a bit.
Of course, the best approach here is to plan for this boredom in advance, and to arrange forms of entertainment for yourself, that will be easily accessible during your period of recovery.
This could be as simple as moving a TV into your bedroom, signing up for a subscription to an online TV streaming service, or getting a good selection of books (or audiobooks) stocked up in preparation.
Of course, it may also be the case that being simply “entertained” during your recovery won’t cut it for you, and that you’d like to actually be productive, too.
It’s hard to tell in advance how able you will be to be productive while recovering, but you should at least ensure that the option is there for you to do something productive, if you find that you are in fact up to it. This could mean having notepads available for sketching, drawing out plans and lists, or simple items of equipment for pursuing hobbies such as stamp collecting, or scrapbooking.
Be sure to do your own independent research, and ask any questions that might be on your mind before going through with it
It might be that you are interested in signing up to have an elective procedure done, But don’t really know enough about it to go into it from a properly informed perspective.
In these sorts of cases, you owe it to yourself to do your own thorough, independent research before committing to anything, including asking your specialist any questions that might be on your mind, prior to turning up at the hospital.
It might be that you’ve heard about the benefits of a particular procedure from a friend or colleague of yours, or that you’ve come across an advert or article for that procedure, that’s done a good job of selling its benefits to you.
All the same, different people react differently to medical procedures of all sorts, and you’ll want to have as clear an understanding of all the potential nuances, risks, and mitigating factors that might be involved, for your own peace of mind, at the very least.
This is no time to be shy. Be as inquisitive as you possibly can in order to get the clearest possible answers to any questions you might have.
Practice active relaxation techniques leading up to your operation, and do what you can to go into it as de-stressed as possible
Everyone’s heard of the placebo effect, but far fewer people have heard of the sinister sister phenomenon known as the “nocebo” effect. To explain this phenomenon simply – the “nocebo” effect is the phenomenon that occurs when you are expecting the worst, and so experience worse overall health outcomes, and a delayed recovery process, accordingly.
In order to ensure that the procedure goes off without a hitch, try to practice active relaxation techniques leading up to your operation, perhaps including regular sessions of guided meditation courtesy of an app such as Calm or Headspace.
Be sure to also get enough sleep leading up to your procedure, and to avoid overdoing it on the caffeine.
In other words, do whatever you can to ensure that you are properly relaxed prior to your procedure, and that you are likewise able to relax in a meaningful way following your procedure, as a means of aiding recovery.