Checklist: Getting ready for your surgery

RememberFacing back surgery can make you feel a myriad of emotions—you may be a little nervous about the whole “going under” thing, but you’re excited for the end result, which equals a life with less pain and more freedom. You also may be wondering what you can do to prepare for your surgery.

Beyond filling out medical forms and stocking your freezer with “recovery ice cream,” there are a couple of things you should do to make sure your healing process is as stress-free and easy as possible. We’ve compiled a checklist of some to-dos you may or may not have already considered:

Practice relaxation techniques. If you’re an anxious person and are experiencing pre-surgery stress, the hormones released in response to your stress could be causing you unpleasant symptoms like headaches, high blood pressure and insomnia. Stress hormones can also weaken your immune system and make it more difficult for your body to manage pain, should you experience any post-surgery. Prepare by practicing deep breathing, positive thinking, meditation and visualization exercises. Imagine a positive outcome and a quick recovery period.

Be as healthy as possible going in. Recovery will go more smoothly and be faster if your body is strong and healthy. If you smoke, quit before your surgery. Avoid excessive alcohol and make sure you’re eating a diet rich in vitamin C, which can help with tissue healing. Exercise helps, too. Build up your energy and strength as much as possible before surgery and your body will be better able to heal itself.

Find childcare. If you’re a parent, arrange for someone to take care of your children while you’re having your procedure, and, if needed, some additional time so that you can recover before needing to chase little ones around the house again.

Secure transportation. Ask your physician if you’ll be able to drive yourself home after surgery. If not, make sure your spouse, another family member or a friend is available to take you and pick you up.

Make your home a sanctuary. What will you need when you return home from your surgery? Perhaps this means arranging your furniture to accommodate your recovery, preparing meals ahead of time and freezing them so you don’t have to worry about cooking while you’re in the healing process and making sure you have ice packs and a heating pad at the ready. You may also want to splurge on a few post-surgery luxuries like comfy pillows for your days of rest, a few new movies to watch or your favorite (healthy, of course) snacks.

Have a friend on call. You might need some other help post-surgery, which is why it’s always great to have a friend who’s at the ready to run an errand for you or take your dog for a walk.

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