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Questions You Should Ask the Nurse Before Surgery

By Brynna B

July 27, 2013

The thought of surgery is enough draw feelings of angst, if not total panic, from patients who have no other choice but to go under the knife. That being said, surgery is not something that should be taken lightly. It is important to understand what waits for us on the other side. Here are some questions that you should ask your nurse a few weeks before your surgery, so that you are fully prepared for what lies ahead and what will happen when you wake up on the other side.

How much pain will I be in and how will it be treated?

This is one of the most important questions to ask, as pain can be managed more effectively if the body has some idea of what to expect. Knowing what to expect a few weeks before the surgery will give you enough time to master breathing techniques which can be utilized post-op to help you manage the pain. Patients who have a history of opiate dependency should request information about counseling services to help them avoid relapse. 

For how long will I be in the hospital?

The answer to this question will give you and your family ample time to make arrangements in regards to transportation, among other things. It also gives you the opportunity to prepare yourself mentally for at least one aspect of your recovery. In terms of accommodation, hospital rooms are designed for nurses who operate under the premise that until you leave, you won’t be doing anything for yourself. Knowing how many crossword books to pack may save you a lot of trouble later.

Who can answer my questions post-op if I have any?

In a hospital setting, shift changes inevitably lead to communication issues between patients and nurses. Often, one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing. It’s important to have a clear understanding of who will be around to answer questions that may arise during your stay, no matter how trivial you feel those questions might be. Your post-op contact will address any concerns that you may have, quickly and completely. If you can find a nurse leader, it is best to ask them, as they have great experience in the field. Make sure you know who to look for.

How often will I be checked on?

Most nurses make their rounds every hour, though some surgeries call for more frequent status checks. Regardless, it is important to understand how often you will be checked on so that you can have a sleep schedule in place. Sleep is essential to recovery, especially in the early stages when your body will be fighting off the effects of anesthesia and opiates simultaneously. Many patients often report that the worst part of surgery is waking up. Sleeping through the worst of it can give you a psychological edge for when it comes time to start moving around again. 

Is there anything I should avoid in the weeks immediately following my surgery? 
The answer to this question can benefit you in two ways. 

First and foremost, it will give you time to prepare yourself psychology for an extended period of limited activity. Those who regularly engage in physical activity may have a more difficult time adapting to such constraints. 

Secondly, post-op can be painful, and certain subtle movements may increase your pain level ten-fold. 

Ask your nurse if there are things that you can do to compensate for the restrictions. Most nurses will suggest meditation and deep breathing exercises. Activities that challenge the mind are highly recommended, as they take the focus off of a patient’s physical condition and demand high levels of concentration. The less pain a patient feels, the more quickly they will recover.

Brynna B has been working with health professionals for over 10 years. Since her childhood, she has had the opportunity to meet numerous people in the health and wellness industry and thanks them for changing her life.