Prepare your body

Now is the time to prepare your mind, body, and spirit for what’s in store. It’s called a holistic approach. Before undergoing most surgical procedures your surgeon will need to be sure that you are a healthy candidate for the procedure. You will most likely be asked to provide them with a full medical history, physical exam, and be required to submit blood work and possibly diagnostic testing (i.e ultrasound). Be sure to include any information regarding past experiences with skin infections.

There is some truth to the saying that nurses and doctors make the worst patients, at least for me it is. Before having my procedure I went to my primary doctor for the physical and lab work. I thought that I may as well see my gynecologist too. The nurse practitioner that examined me felt lumps in my breast and suggested that I get a mammogram.

I had a history of fibroids and she thought that I should have pelvic and intravaginal ultrasounds to record the size of each. We even explored having fibroid surgery performed at the same time as the other procedures (which wasn’t done after all).  It was all becoming too much and even through all my moaning and complaining I knew that this was all for my own good.

The pre-procedure work up is important so make sure you get a thorough check up before any procedure. If you are a smoker – you will need to quit.  Smoking can delay wound healing, increase your heart rate and blood pressure which forces your heart to work faster. It also increases your chances of forming blood clots that causes heart attacks, strokes, or damage other tissue. Know the risks.

 Be sure to disclose all medications that you are taking even occasionally to the surgeon. Certain medications may increase your risk for abnormal bleeding or interfere with the medications that the anesthesiologist and surgeon might prescribe. You may be instructed to stop taking certain herbal medicines, vitamins and other minerals before surgery.

 There are surgeons that will require you to take specific medications before the procedure. These medications are believed to have benefits that help decrease the amount of bruising or swelling post-procedure. Whatever the doctor’s orders are, make sure you follow them. Going into surgery in good health will definitely give you peace of mind.

 Preparing Your Mind and Spirit  

So now that you know where you stand medically going into your procedure it’s time to clear your mind and address you spirit. Here’s what I’ve found helpful as I approached my surgery. Stop talking about your surgery with naysayers. What’s the point and how does it help you mentally prepare for what’s in store? It doesn’t. Limit your time on the plastic surgery message boards. Some might disagree but I found myself becoming completely obsessed with my surgery, the before and after procedures, what so and so had to say, the stories…Stop!

Instead, I’d suggest you plan fun activities with loved ones (both those that support and those that don’t) and in the time that an activity is planned you either limit talking incessantly about your procedure or don’t speak about it at all. There is a time and place for everything. Make this an opportunity to be fully present with that person and not all caught up in YOU. It’s shared moments like these that truly nurture the spirit.

 Healthy fear vs. unhealthy fear

Experiencing fear around surgery is perfectly normal

I want to take a few minutes to discuss healthy fear vs. unhealthy fear.  As a nurse I've helped to both prepare patients for surgery and recover them after.  I've held a lot of hands and walked many patients through their fears. The first step in overcoming fear is to shine a light on it. Ask yourself, "what am I most afraid of?” Everyone is different.

When I made the decision to have surgery I found myself deathly afraid of the idea of not waking up after. I'll share what I did to overcome my fears but first let's compare healthy fear vs. unhealthy fear.

Shine a light on your fears and overcome them

Healthy fear makes you do your due diligence - research your procedure and find the right surgeon. Healthy fear forces you to ask better questions, prepare and contingency plan. Unhealthy fear causes you to worry yourself sick...literally. Unhealthy fear leaves you vulnerable to accepting terrible advice from unqualified people and poor planning. Unhealthy fear is blinding, all consuming and paralyzing. You can't overcome what you don't understand so get clear on what exactly it is you fear and shine a light on it.

Here's what I did to overcome my fear

One day I got really still and named my fear. By shining a light on it I was able to address it. I had never undergone anesthesia before and it scared me. I made sure to talk to my surgeon about the fear and his reassurance was helpful. I was also fortunate enough to speak with anesthesiologist friend; he really put my mind at ease. Remember you can always ask your surgeon to put you in touch with the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist they work with. They will answer any questions you may have and ease your fears.

The power of positive thinking

As my surgery date approached I stopped obsessing over it, reading messages boards and talking about it incessantly. I spent time with others and did not discuss my procedure while with them. That gave me peace of mind. Everyone is different.  If you don't already have a healthy practice of  positive thinking, healthy eating, exercising, being still in meditation or whatever works for you... start now.