In the past month, three of my closest family members have had to undergo surgical procedures. Thankfully, everyone is doing well and on the road to recovery.
The events of the past month really made me stop to think about how much easier this past month was because we were organized. I don’t like to throw around the “should” word but when your health is involved, you really SHOULD be organized. The following is a list of things you “should” have in place prior to undergoing a medical/surgical procedure:
1. Make sure that you have an updated and legal Health Care Directive. Give a copy of your Health Care Directive to your primary care physician as well as the physician performing the procedure.
2. If you don’t already have a Health Care Directive, you can download one from the internet. Make sure that the person you designate to make decisions for you in case you are not able, knows and agrees to take on that responsibility. The Healthcare Directive must be signed and dated and, in some cases, notarized.
3. Make sure that you bring all necessary paperwork with you on the day of the procedure (e.g., insurance card, identification, checkbook and/or credit card).
4. Know your medical history and provide this information to your primary care physician and the physician performing the procedure.
5. Make a plan, in advance, to have someone drive you to the appointment and pick you up. If worst comes to worst you can always call a cab or Uber, but don’t make the mistake of driving yourself.
6. Ask your physician’s office, before the procedure, to call in your prescriptions to your pharmacy. Pick them up before the procedure. The less you have to do after a procedure, the better.
7. Go to the market before the procedure and get whatever you might need for at least a couple of days. Again, the less you have to do after a procedure, the better. You may not be able to drive or do much walking afterward and, even if you can, you may not want to.
8. Ask your doctor before the procedure to give you the After Care Instructions. It’s best to review them prior to the procedure when you are more able to comprehend them.
9. Don’t be afraid to ask questions both before and after a medical procedure. Remember to write down any questions and/or concerns so that you don’t forget them when you’re with the doctor. It is important to be your own advocate.
10. Dress comfortably on the day of the procedure! For example, don’t wear restrictive clothing or shoes that need to be tied. Leave your jewelry and other items that you don’t want to lose at home.