Rigid External Distraction survival
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Basic Tips
          Pre-Op Tips
  • Always keep a working list of questions.  Any time you think of a question related to your surgery, add it to the list right away so you won't forget it.  Take the list of questions with you to your appointments and write down the answers.  No matter how trivial the question is, just ask.  You are preparing for major surgery, not buying a toaster, so the only stupid question is the one you don't ask. 

  • Make arrangements to miss school and work.  Make sure everyone understands the intensity of the procedure and don't allow teachers to even think that make-up work is something they can expect before the entire process is over.  Consider talking to school counselors about the different options that exist for missing prolonged periods of school.  Many public schools are required to provide tutors and other services to students with medical needs.

  • Brief the people around you on what's going on.  You not only need the support, but need people to be your advocates while you're gone.  Before I left, apparently someone thought I was going to have plastic surgery!  As long as some of your friends know the truth about where your going, wacky rumors like that shouldn't get too far.

  • Publicize your pre-op/post-op contact information.  My friends were constantly sending me cards to the Ronald McDonald House while I recovered and the cards offered encouragement during that time.  If you're staying within driving distance of your hometown, you can request visitors if you feel up to it.

  • Try to get an early-morning surgery.  You will not be allowed to eat anything the day of the surgery, so the earlier, the better.  This will allow you to sleep in closer to the time of the surgery, be less hungry, and have less time to worry.  But if your surgery is in the afternoon, don't sweat it.  Just stay up late the night before, eat a big midnight snack, and sleep in until check-in time.

  • Make housing arrangements in advance if you don't live near the medical center.  Ask your surgeon's office to connect you to a social worker about staying at a Ronald McDonald House or other temporary housing options for young hospital patients and their families.  You need the referral of a social worker to verify the legitimacy of your stay.  Many hotels also offer medical discounts for patients from out of town.  Check with the hospital to find out which hotels offer the best rates.  If you will be staying for several weeks, make sure to ask about extended-stay discounts as well.  Temporary apartments might be another good option to consider.

  • Make arrangements for younger siblings.  Do not bring young siblings into the hospital on the day of the operation.  It is a bother not only to your family to have to entertain them while preparing for the surgery, but it will be a bother to other patients who are stressed about their own situations as well.  See if the younger ones can stay with other family or friends.  On the same note, do not invite extended family, even if they ask.  This is not the time for a reunion.  That can happen later.

  • Get any pre-surgery meds you might need.  It's pretty common now for patients to be given a local anesthetic cream to put on the backs of their hands before surgery to numb the area for the I.V..  Ask your surgeon if this is an option for you and make sure you get the special cream before your surgery date.

  • Load up on comedies.  Before every surgery, my dad and I would always go to video stores like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video and buy a bunch of their pre-viewed videos (back then DVDs weren't big yet... wow do I feel old...).  At any given point, these stores will have deals like "5 for $25".  Usually, these are the movies no one wants, thus their great price.  But since your mission is temporary distraction and not a quality cinema experience, just go for it! 

  • Eat a ton of chewy/crunchy food before the surgery.  After the surgery, you won't be allowed to use your choppers, so use them now!

  • Relax and do something fun the day before the surgery.  to take off the stress.  Watch a movie, go to the zoo, treat yourself to a shopping spree, or anything that will be fun and keep your mind at ease.  Worrying won't help anything (though that is 100 times more easily said than done). Just pray and leave the rest up to God.

  • Make sure the anesthesiologist calls the night before.  As you probably already know, this is standard procedure for major surgeries.  When he or she calls, they should give you instructions for when you need to stop eating and drinking, and what check in procedures will be like.  Make sure to ask any and all questions you might have.  If for whatever reason they never call you, call them and make sure everything is set for the next day.

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