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How to mentally prepare for your first surgery

By Sinead Nolan
Physiotherapist at Life Ready Physio + Pilates Warwick

The news that surgery is on the cards for you can be overwhelming and daunting. Preparing for your surgery can not only make a significant difference to the speed and success of your recovery, but can also mentally ready you for what lies ahead. 

To begin, it’s important to know that the journey to recovery begins the moment your surgery is first mentioned, and continues long beyond the doors of the operating theatre. We’re here to help you to create a preoperative checklist to take the apprehension out of the wait and ensure a smooth path to recovery. 

Item number one on your pre-operative checklist is to get the facts and know what to expect before your surgery, immediately after your surgery, and when you return home. Depending on your surgery, there will be different tasks you’ll be expected to complete. There may also be certain rules and restrictions on you for a period following surgery. Knowing what will be expected eliminates any unexpected surprises and makes the initial 24 hours easier to deal with.

  • A pre-operative physiotherapy assessment and treatment plan is vital to ensure you are physically and mentally prepared for what is to come. Ensuring your body is optimally prepared will make a significant difference to your initial ease of recovery. 

Physically, ensuring you optimise your strength, range of motion and mobility before your surgery is important to ensure the success of your surgery. Our physiotherapists know exactly how to get you physically prepared to give you a head start on your post op physio and recovery. 

Add to your checklist what you need to bring with you to the hospital, and pack your bag well in advance to avoid any last-minute stress. Loose fitting clothing will make it easier for your nurse to check your wound, and easier for you to get moving. Bringing some comfortable, day time clothes so you can get dressed the morning after your surgery – this will help you to feel more like yourself. A supportive pair of shoes are important since you’ll be getting up and walking regularly soon after your surgery.

Mentally, knowing exactly what will happen on the day of surgery will lessen the stress of the occasion. Physically, you’ll need to get moving a few hours after your surgery, with the support of the hospital physiotherapists. 

Recovery doesn’t end when you leave the operating theatre. Your surgeon will have skillfully done their part, and the rest is up to you and your physiotherapist. The success of any surgery depends on your dedication to your rehabilitation, so having your first post-operative physio session booked in advance is a great step to ensuring you start off on the right foot. 

Now that you have addressed expectations on your pre-operative checklist, preparing your home life in advance will make sure you have adequate support. Expect to have less energy while you heal, so you may need more help than usual. Knowing your post-operative restrictions in advance will allow you to prepare your home, sleeping arrangements and transport to ensure an easy transition.

Taking the time to mentally prepare and work through your preoperative checklist will help you to take control of your recovery. Our physiotherapists are ready and waiting to plan your post op physio and stages of recovery with you. Get in touch today.

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