Friday, May 14, 2010

Preparing for Surgery: A Testimony

Marketing's Sandra Crockett had successful eye surgery at the Krieger Eye Institute last week. This is an account of her preparation for eye surgery.

My eye surgery at Sinai Hospital is scheduled, and I am filled with trepidation and hope.

It has been more than a year since I’ve learned surgery was an option. I had uveitis (inflammation of the uvea; cause unknown in my case) which has given me both cataracts and glaucoma. The surgery can not be done if the uveitis is active, so I have had to wait.

Getting to surgery requires some necessary steps, which increase if you are over age 50.There is the pre-admission evaluation and testing, which must be done within thirty days of the surgery. This includes blood tests, a urinalysis and an electrocardiogram.

My primary care physician completed my outpatient history form, which states any sort of physical issues. And, I’ve been told to have a complete list of medications (for me that is three different eye drops and one twice-a-day pill, for eye pressure) to present to the nurse the day of surgery. I started on a heavy dose of steroids three days before surgery, but won’t take it on the day of surgery.

Those preparing for surgery are reminded not to eat, drink or smoke after midnight the day of the surgery. Aspirin is not allowed, but other medications are sometimes allowed - check with your physician. No make-up is to be worn the day of surgery and any jewelry is to be left at home.

It's important to plan who will be there with you after surgery. Obviously driving home after eye surgery is a non-starter. If there was no one available to take me home after surgery, it would be canceled.

Behind the scenes at Sinai, the PASS department is busy watching out for all the hospital’s preoperative patients. PASS stands for Pre-Anesthesia Screening Service.

“We review all of the paperwork,” says Tina Sewell, PASS nurse practitioner. If necessary, they also see patients.

PASS' ultimate goal to physically see all preoperative patients, regardless if the patients have a primary physician to provide screening. Only some patients see a PASS nurse.

“If a patient can’t get to their primary care doctor or if they have had anesthesia issues in the past, we will see them and discuss it,” says Patricia Valentino, a PASS nurse practitioner,

Some patients need guidance on which medications should be taken before surgery, says Patricia Drummond, PASS nurse practitioner. “We do a consult on what they need to take, whether it's blood pressure, psychiatric drugs, whatever," she says.

My best advice for people facing surgery is to put yourselves in the hands of good doctors and good hospitals. Ask questions and make sure you understand all of the answers.

That’s the medical part. There is also the rest of life after surgery. I will be out of action for about a month. Running is my exercise of choice but that will be out of the question for a couple of months. Ouch! Besides weight control, running provides stress relief. A long-time running buddy is already looking ahead. He is planning on running a November marathon in New Hampshire.

“And there’s a half marathon for you!” he says.

I know that November will be here before I know it. In the meantime, I’ll be a woman walking for the next few months.

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