Before your operation, you’ll get to meet the doctor who’ll be operating on you (the surgeon), as well as the anaesthetist who’ll be working with the nurse anaesthetist to make sure you’re properly asleep and doing well during the operation. You can bring your mum or dad with you if you like, or bring along someone else you can rely on when you meet them. Most people like having someone there to hold their hand.
The surgeon will plan your operation and the anaesthetist will run through what’s going to happen, check whether you’re taking any medications and tell you that you may need to stop taking them before your operation. Don’t forget to let them know if you’re taking dietary supplements or natural remedies – you may need to take a break from them for a little while as well. The same goes for the Pill – let them know, and tell them what kind you’re taking. You’ll also be asked whether you have any allergies or other diseases such as asthma, whether you’ve been put under anaesthetic previously and whether you know of any relatives who’ve had problems with anaesthetic. The doctor will also ask whether you smoke, vape or use “snus”, your weight, whether you’re pregnant, whether you have any piercings or loose teeth and whether you suffer from travel sickness. All of these questions are asked to make sure that your anaesthetic is as good as possible. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask questions about anything you like. No question is too silly, or too difficult. You have the right to know what’s going to happen. If you’ve had an anaesthetic before, you might feel that you’re already prepared. But you might be at a different hospital now, and your operation might be for something completely different. So ask questions, and prepare yourself now as well. There are times when you might think of questions just after you’ve left, or on the following day. In that case, write down all your questions, take them with you to the hospital and ask them before your operation. Sometimes you’ll be able to phone or email the hospital beforehand as well. Check what the situation is in the place where your operation will be taking place.
When the day of your operation approaches, two things are more important than anything else. First of all, you mustn’t have a cough or a cold. If you do, phoned the hospital and tell them how you’re feeling. Secondly, you mustn’t eat or drink anything before your operation. The hospital will provide information on the timings applicable to you. Do as you’re told and don’t lie to the staff about when you last had something to eat or drink – your safety is at stake. It’s quite common to be told not to eat anything after midnight if your operation is scheduled for the morning. It’s usually fine to have a drink up to two hours before your operation as long as you stick to clear liquids. Water, squash, fizzy drinks, juice without pulp, tea or coffee (without milk) are all clear liquids. Milk, juice with pulp and drinking yoghurt aren’t allowed.
Come as you are to the hospital – no makeup, jewellery, piercings or perfume. You also have to remove nail polish and false nails. You have to shower at home and wash yourself with a special soap. The staff will tell you how and when you should have your shower so that you can be really clean. You may also have received or been asked to buy a patch or a cream to place on your hand or in the crook of your arm before you travel to the hospital. This is to numb the area before a little plastic tube is then inserted in a blood vessel.
When the day of your operation approaches, you might feel a little tense and nervous. That’s entirely normal, nearly everyone feels like that. If you like, take along someone you can rely on who can stay with you at the hospital and when you’re about to be put under the anaesthetic. By all means, tell the people working at the hospital about what you’re thinking about, and if you’re afraid. Just saying what’s on your mind will help! Everyone working in healthcare wants you to feel as comfortable as possible – and for that to happen, you have to feel as secure as possible. That’s why the staff will be pleased if you ask about things. They know their answers will make you feel safer, and therefore more comfortable.