To assist in understanding your procedure and recovery requirements we have prepared a list of questions you may like to discuss with your doctor:
- What is involved in my treatment/procedure?
- What should I expect during my recovery period?
- How long will my recovery take?
- Will there be activity restrictions after leaving hospital?
- Will I need physiotherapy?
- Will I need rehabilitation?
Understanding your anaesthetic
People often think of anaesthesia as being put to sleep. However, that's not strictly true. Rather, the anaesthetist puts you into a state of carefully controlled unconsciousness to ensure that the surgery is painless.
No chance is taken during this period. All your bodily functions are carefully and constantly monitored by your anaesthetist.
Afterwards, we want you to experience as little pain and discomfort as possible and here again, the anaesthetist will help.
There are some things you can do to make your anaesthetic safer:
- Get a little fitter - even a regular walk will work wonders.
- Don't smoke - ideally, stop six weeks before surgery.
- Drink less alcohol.
- Continue to take any drugs which have been prescribed but remember to let your anaesthetist and doctor know.
- If you are taking aspirin, ask your doctor or anaesthetist about whether you should stop taking it two weeks prior to surgery.
- If you have any kind of health problem tell your anaesthetist and doctor so they are fully informed.
- If you are anxious and have questions, make an appointment to see your anaesthetist before admission to hospital and get the answers you need.
- Stop taking herbal products at least two to three weeks prior to surgery.
- Inform your anaesthetist if you use illicit drugs as this may interact with the anaesthetic.
- Inform your doctor/anaesthetist if you object to blood transfusions.
What should I tell the anaesthetist?
Your anaesthetist will visit you before the operation, to talk with you and perform a relevant examination. Depending on the type of operation, this may not occur until immediately before hand.
The anaesthetist will want to know:
- How healthy you are, if you have had any recent illnesses and also about any previous operations.
- Abnormal reactions to any drugs, or whether you have any allergies.
- Any history of asthma, bronchitis, heart problems or any other medical conditions.
- Whether you are taking any drugs at present including cigarettes and alcohol and, for woman, whether they are on the pill. If you are taking prescribed tablets, bring them along.
- If you have any loose teeth, wear dentures, caps or plates.
The anaesthetist wants to have the best possible picture of you and your present condition so that the most suitable anaesthetic can be planned. Answer all questions honestly - it is all about minimising risk to you.
Is fasting really necessary? Yes!
We know the pangs of hunger can be severe but no food or drink before the operation is a must. Not even water.
Food or fluid in the stomach may be vomited and enter your lungs while you are unconscious. If you don't follow this rule of fasting, the operation may be postponed in the interests of your safety. The pre-admission nurse will call the day before your admission to inform you of fasting times.
After the operation
Your anaesthetist will continue to monitor your condition carefully, well after the surgery is finished, to ensure your recovery is as smooth and trouble free as possible.
Once awake, you will feel drowsy. You may have a sore throat, feel sick or have a headache. These are temporary and will soon pass. To help the recovery process, you will be given oxygen to breathe, encouraged to take deep breaths and to cough.
Don't worry if there is some dizziness, blurred vision or short-term memory loss. It usually passes quite quickly. If you experience any worrying after effects, you should contact your anaesthetist.
The Mater Hospital thanks the Australian Society of Anaesthetists for allowing part reproduction of their information brochure 'Anaesthesia & You.'