The Surgery-Part Two: Preparation

 

There are fibriods. They’re causing problems. I decide to have them surgically removed.  Now that we’re all caught up, the next step in this thing is the prep and time leading up to the actual surgery.

Prior to this, I had never had any type of surgery or extended hospital stay. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I thought I’d just make the appointment, take time off and go in. Well, in the words of Charlie Murphy: “Wrong. WRONG!” There was a lot that needed to be handled before I went in. In the month leading up to the surgery, I had a lot to do.

I was very wrong.

I was very wrong.

Time off from Work

Well, I definitely did not think this step was going to be as involved as it was. I had only been on my job six months at that point, so my paid leave was scarce. I had 5 days of vacation and 5 days of personal/sick time. problem was, I would be out at least 4 weeks, maybe more. The solution was to put in for a leave of absence, where at that point I would earn a portion of my pay. I should also say that I work for a mid size non profit, and its not extremely bureaucratic or formal all of the time, but obviously this had to be. I should also point out that my Deputy Director, also a Black woman, had several myomectomies and knew exactly what I was going through.  The fact that she understood what was happening to me and the recovery process was very comforting to me. It was easy for me to tell her what was happening. On the other hand, my manager, (who was awesome and I had a great working relationship with) was a man, so it was a bit more awkward explaining to him what kind of surgery it was, even in vague detail. I also had to present a note from the doctor to verify that I would be having surgery and would need time to recover/recuperate. Make sure you get all of the proper documentation from your doctor’s office

In the end, I worked out the 5 weeks using all the sick and vacation leave I had, then using leave of absence and a week working from home.

  • Read up and talk to your  HR department about your extended leave options and time off. Depending on the method of surgery, your time off could be 1-6 weeks.
  • If your job offers telecommuting, I suggest using this option for a week or two before you head back into the office. It gives you a chance to catch up on what you missed without getting too stressed out, and you can still lay or sit in a way that will be comfortable for you, make any follow up visits, and maybe get a nap in. You will need naps as you recover.

 

Insurance

Hopefully you’re going through this with at least some health insurance. If not, it can cost you. But just because you have insurance, it doesn’t mean they will cover everything. Call your insurance company and see what is covered exactly. Also call the hospital where you will have your surgery to see how they bill. See what you will be responsible for out of pocket, co pays or other fees. Particularly for the Anesthesiologist.

Believe it or not, the anesthesiologist is not always covered with the doctor. You would think they come as a package deal, like a cable/internet bundle but, wrong again!  The hospital often bills for the anesthesiologist separate. Speak with hospital billing and ask who/what practice they use and see if your insurance covers that individual/group of anesthesiologists, AND how they bill.

Fortunately for me, I had excellent health insurance and my surgery costs were covered. The rep I spoke to said I may have a $40 or $50 co pay the day of. Bless the Lord, I didn’t even have that. The hospital billed my insurance for the anesthesiologist in a way that their costs were also covered.  Won’t HE do it?!

Physical and Blood Work

Your doctor will probably have you to get a general physical from your Primary Care doctor just to verify that your are in general good health and OK to be put under anesthesia and have surgery. They will also request blood work, but that in my case had to only be done within a certain window leading up to surgery. I think it was 10-7 days. The doctor/lab performing these will send the information back to your doctor.

Support

This is probably the biggest thing to have in order: Who will help you while you recover? Again, depending on the method and your particular situation, you could be down for a while.

At the time, I lived in a 1 bedroom apartment. Its was a nice size for me, but all the people who wanted to come help and wanted to stay with me was the issue. Of course O would be around, but he didn’t need to stay, he lived close by. My Mom was coming, of course, and my Dad insisted on coming.  My parents are not together, but they get along, but I was still worried about awkwardness in close quarters. Neither of them was going to stay in a hotel  1)because neither of them had a bunch of extra money for a hotel 2) They both felt their 24 hr help was necessary.

My Mom stayed for about two weeks, my Dad only stayed the weekend, which was perfect. I had two couches and an air mattress, so I figured everyone would be OK for those few days.

House work

Its a small thing, but the last few days before your surgery, tidy up your apartment/house. You might not be able to for a while. Also, if you have people staying to help take care of you post surgery, hit up the grocery store so they have meals and snacks. Also, pick up soup, jello, crackers, cereal for yourself. Those are about the only things you’ll be up to eating the first few days.

Now that you’ve got your help lined up, your insurance coverage confirmed, your time off approved and your out of office responder is on.  You’ve prayed, you’ve shopped, you’ve done all of your last minute running around. Its the day before the surgery. They probably have you to…

Cleanse

…and not your palette! Also known as a “bowel prep”. Because they will be operating so close to your bowel and bladder, they prefer that they are as empty as possible. I’m not going to lie to you, it sounds  innocuous on paper when they give you the detailed instructions.  Just a little milk of magnesia, dulcolax and a liquid diet after 12 noon.  I had never been so wrong. In real life, its so, so much more.

Stomach Problems

You’ll start this all the day before your procedure.  If you can take off or work half a day, it would be wise. You can eat solid food for breakfast. I don’t suggest going to IHOP and ordering a last meal of a stack of pancakes, bacon and eggs. Trust me.  They usually suggest toast, cereal, yogurt, fruit. etc. I think I had toast, turkey bacon and orange juice.

At noon, you take a large dose of milk of magnesia. Now you’re only on water and clear liquid like jello or broth. Several hours later, you take another dose of MOM with 2 dulcolax (or similar) pills. I think you can see where this is headed….  It comes in waves and will last you well into the morning.

6-12 hours before surgery, you can’t even have water.

Now you’re insides are all clean and you’re ready to go in.

On the emotional side, I was pretty steady. I prayed very diligently about healing. I prayed for my doctor and his team every day the week of . No matter what your spiritual or religious beliefs are, this, I think is the most important prep work. Pray, meditate, read scriptures, whatever gets you closer to God and calms your spirit.  I wasn’t afraid at all. Maybe because I knew it had to be done. I also didn’t look at this as the major surgery that it is. I just kept saying  “Its not like I’m having open heart surgery or anything”  The truth is this is a major thing, even if it is fairly common. I was touched that so many people offered to help and support me. I felt loved, which is always a great feeling. I also think I was so distracted planning and prepping, I didn’t really have time to think about all that was going on, until the day of.

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