On May 13th, 2016
The prospect of undergoing brain surgery is scary. You’re facing the unknown. You probably feel vulnerable. Questions, important and trivial, fill your thoughts. Preparing for your procedure will empower you. By taking charge of those things you can control, you feel calmer and better able to cope.
Communicate openly with your neurosurgeon. Research your condition. Ask lots of questions. Arm yourself with information. If you have a thorough understanding of the surgery, you can partner with your medical team. A patient isn’t a passive subject. Actively participating in your care helps you stay strong through the procedure and during recovery.
Getting Cleared for Your Operation
Before brain surgery, patients complete a tried-and-true procedure to ensure they are medically fit for surgery. You will speak with your doctor about medications you take. You may be required to see an internist or specialist who will check your ability to withstand the stress of surgery.
If you have medical conditions that could complicate brain surgery, these may need to be resolved. For instance, those with heart disease may need further tests or treatments before undergoing brain surgery.
Coping With the Risks
Only you and your doctors can decide if surgery is right for you. If you’re undergoing elective surgery, you’ll have time to weigh the benefits against the risks. Every surgery has side-effects.
Ask your surgeon about the dangers of your procedure. Find out how many times the surgeon has successfully completed the same operation. You may get peace of mind by having legal documents, such as a living will or advanced directive, in place.
It may not be easy, but speak with family members about worst-case scenarios. Let key members know that you have an advanced directive. If it’s not possible to speak with those close to you, consult your lawyer and draw up the documents.
Find Comfort In the Familiar
Hospitals can be less than soothing. They are filled with strange equipment. Monitors beep when you’re resting. Compression sleeves suddenly inflate around your legs. Technicians come to poke, prod and peer. You’re tethered to poles with bags of blood and fluids.
Counteract the unfamiliar routines and contraptions by bringing a little bit of home to the hospital. Pack your favorite slippers, pillow, blanket or pajamas. Maybe you find comfort in a book, music or a photo of someone you love. Perhaps you have a lucky talisman, or a symbol of your faith. Whatever it may be, bring it with you if it helps you relax.
Your medical team will give you additional instructions to prepare for your procedure. Rely on your caregivers to help you while you’re in the hospital. Follow their recommendations for recovery.
Dr. Kuether is a skilled brain surgeon. If you have questions about your diagnosis, contact him at 503.489.8111. He is accepting new patients.