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Health Matters: Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center | 3 Preparing for Surgery It's normal to be anxious heading into surgery, but knowing what to expect before, during and afterward can ease your tension and improve your recovery. A ccording to Najwa Elmorr, MSN, executive director of perioperative services at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, "preparing for surgery has always been a journey. The more awareness the patient has, the less anxiety there will be." Here are some presurgery tips to help you prepare: Eat for optimal healing. Eat nutritious meals to improve your physical stamina. "Adequate protein intake can facilitate the healing process of muscles and tissues. However, excessive intake of carbohydrates, sugars, or fried or fatty foods may result in inflammation and increase the risk of infection," says Elmorr. "For patients with diabetes, ask your health care provider how you should manage your glucose levels leading up to surgery." Avoid alcohol and smoking. Alcohol increases the body's sugar levels, which in turn stokes inflammation. Smoking also inhibits the recovery of tissue, muscle and bone. Both alcohol and smoking can lead to a higher chance of infection, a blood clot or other postsurgery complication. Go easy on supplements. Go over your list of over-the-counter supplements with your provider, just as you would any other medications. "Some herbs and vitamins can affect blood thinning, for example," says Elmorr, "and that might increase your risk for bleeding during and after surgery." Stock up for your recovery. Make sure to pre-fill any prescriptions, load up on groceries and prepare a place at home for recovery with clean linens and any supplies you might need. For major surgeries, the hospital provides nurse coordinators who make sure patients have support at home and any equipment necessary for recovery. Review your presurgery plans. Connect with your doctor's staff to go over any requirements, including which of your regular medications to take the morning of your surgery. Most surgeries require that you have nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before your procedure. Pack light. Wear loose-fitting clothing to the hospital, and don't wear jewelry, makeup, contact lenses or dentures. "When a patient is under anesthesia," says Elmorr, "anything loose inside the mouth or the eyes might be a hazard." Remove nail polish as well: One indicator of a patient's oxygen saturation is the color of the nail bed, which must be visible. "An oxygen probe will be placed on your finger during surgery," Elmorr says. "Acrylic nails prevent an accurate oxygen level reading." Arrange for a ride home. Driving while under the influence of anesthesia can be hazardous. Furthermore, the hospital legally cannot release you after anesthesia without a companion. Having the support of a friend or family member during this time can make a significant difference. Take proper time to recover. Surgery is a stressful experience for your body, both physically and emotionally. Following your procedure, take it slow. Don't do too much too soon. "Allow yourself grace during this time and resist the urge to drive or return to work before you feel ready or before your doctor has approved these activities," says Lisa Laurent, MD, chief medical officer at Providence Saint Joseph. "Rest is an important part of your recuperation. But getting up and walking about when cleared to do so will also prevent complications, such as blood clots. Refuel with healthy nutrition, as food gives your muscles energy and fluids keep you hydrated. And remember: Breathe. You've got this!"

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