There are so many pieces to the puzzle of preparing for surgery. No matter how many patients I prepared for surgery from this side I really see how complex it is. The major issue is that everyone who has to prepare for surgery had a life before having to prepare their life for surgery. Now you need to take time out for the preparation. There are quite a few categories to be prepared in.
- Your mindset
- Your professional life
- Your medical life
- Your health and personal finances
- Your personal life
- Your surgery education
It’s not as easy as it looks. A whole bunch of people have to do a whole bunch of things separate from each other so that everything comes together on a particular day so the patient can feel a whole bunch better.
It starts with preparing your mindset. I needed to wrap my brain around the enormity of the concept of having surgery- the pain, the time off from work, the change in my daily lifestyle just to mention a few things. This knee surgery needed early on to be placed high on my priority list.
Organizing my professional life was no small feat. Patients who have surgery when they are younger, on average, are working, and I was no different. When you are going out of work for 6-12 weeks figuring out how to turn work down is a challenge. I decided it would take 3 months to get things in order so I scheduled surgery appropriately. To tell you the truth, a week before my surgery I was still scrambling around. So much for a plan. I was glad I told a lot of people at the hospital that I was having surgery so that my preparations were not seen as being out of context. Plan for leaving and plan for returning. I plan to be out for all of September and then office hours only in October and 50%-75% surgery schedule in November and then full time in December. Let’s see if I can stay on course.
You never really know how sick you are until your primary care doctor prepares you for surgery. I always thought that I saved peoples lives as a surgeon just by sending them to a primary care doctor for preoperative preparation. At that meeting the primary care doctor found a host of illnesses unrelated to my surgery and placed the patients on a treatment plan. Fortunately in my surgical preop there were no surprises. My internist, Dr. Shyam Shivdasani, recommended some cardiac testing (done by Dr. Martin Handler in Long Island- who happens to be my uncle), and the Chairman of Medicine at my hospital, Dr. Sridhar Chilimuri all reviewed my excruciatingly normal tests. Got my medical life in order.
Health finances are harder to understand than an algebra question. There are a million deductibles and fine print rules and none of them really are to the patients advantage. For me there was an interesting twist. Financially, my surgery was being performed under one of the first commercial bundled payment programs for outpatient joint replacement. This was the brain child of my surgeon who developed a program and then a company called SwiftPath that manages the entire episode of care of rapid recovery joint replacement to ensure quality outcomes. When he told me about it 2 years ago I liked it so much I got involved as a co-founder in the company adding the computer and hospital-based expertise. By having the surgery done as a global flat fee (called a bundle) there are no billing surprises.
As far as personal finances go, I had more than enough sick leave time at work coupled with short-term disability and a plan to return to work at a reasonable time so this was not going to be a problem. It was still something I needed to calculate.
The changes in ones personal life from your normal mobility to how you spend your time will be upended by the surgery. I am assuming that I am not even close to anticipating how much time I will need to devote to myself for healing. This will be a challenge.
For me, i obviously have a jumpstart in the area or surgery education. Even fo me though there was a lot to learn. I am getting operated on in a new hospital for me and the protocols used are also a bit unfamiliar. i am making sure to try my best to be a regular patient through the process.
In summary I have moved through the process well. There were a few disruptions in my routines but this is to be expected.
Next- Here in Seattle.