It doesn’t matter how much faith you have in modern medicine or how much you trust your doctor, anticipating going under the knife is a nerve-wracking thing. If you add to the general fears the fact that your operation involves your back, things get even more harrowing. The best way to avoid a bad case of the nerves and some sleepless nights is to get as much information as you possibly can, from the right source. That means you have to ask your surgeon. Looking things up on the internet is not a great idea: we all know that people who’ve had the worst experiences are the ones who post the most and complain the loudest.
As your surgery date approaches, there will be plenty of questions that will pop into your head. Some of them may seem like they’re silly or unimportant, but there’s no such thing as a dumb question if it’s one you want the answer to. Jot your questions down as they arise so that you can ask them all at once, and make sure that you include the following 5 questions on your list.
- Are there any other options, outside of this surgery, that would address my problem? What are they and why do you think that this is the right choice for me? Getting the answer to this question will not only provide you with proof that your surgeon has considered other alternatives instead of jumping right into surgery; it will also give you the opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of the other choices that may be available to you. Some may provide only partial relief or relief that will take a longer time. You need to make the choice that is best for you.
- What should I do before the surgery? What kinds of tests will I need to have, and will I have to make any changes in my routine? Your surgeon may need you to have diagnostic imaging studies done, to stop taking medications such as blood thinners within a certain amount of time, or may want you to cut back on drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes in order to speed your recovery. Remember that you are a partner in your own recovery. Make sure that you know what you can do to help yourself.
- What is the recovery time for my surgery? Are there activities I should avoid?
Asking this question will help you anticipate everything from the amount of time you will need away from work to whether you will want to enlist friends and family members to bring food. It will also help you gauge when you can return to your normal activities such as driving, exercising, and lifting items.
- What are the risks involved in my surgery? What kind of complications are there?
Every operation comes with a certain amount of risk. Your physician should go through all of them with you prior to surgery. You should make sure that you raise any specific concerns you have about medications that you are taking, allergies you have, and overall fears so that your physician can put your mind at ease or discuss alternative options.
- What kind of experience do you have performing this surgery? Many people feel uncomfortable asking this question, but an experienced surgeon will be happy to tell you how many of these operations they have performed, how often they perform it, what their success rate is and what their patients’ experiences have been following the surgery.
At Central Texas Spine Institute, we are here to make sure that all of your questions are answered and you feel confident about your care in our hands.