by Professor Lynn Basford
Final Preparations: Admission to Hospital
The day has now arrived on which your Hysterectomy is imminent. You may have been waiting a few months, or a matter of weeks or days. Whatever your waiting time you will have prepared yourself and your affairs as best as possible. The attention now is on you, Your Emotions, Your Feelings!
Some of you will feel great trepidation and fear, others will be grateful that your suffering will soon be over. Some will never have stepped foot inside a hospital ward before, and yet there are those who will have experienced hospitals on numerous occasions. Some pleasant such as giving birth to your newborn child, others not so pleasant.
Nonetheless, regardless of you personal experience with hospital life, this is quiet different. A hysterectomy means the end of your fertile period after which childbirth will no longer be an option. This in itself may not be your concern, but what of your sexuality? Your femininity? Your attractiveness to your partner? Surgically induced menopause? Surgical complications, hospital acquired infections, etc.
To alleviate your fears remember to review and undertake some of the calming preparatory activities that we have discussed earlier, such as deep breathing techniques, laughter (make sure you have something with you to make you laugh) pictures of your family, music (soothing of course). So before you leave home ensure you have all that you need, use your check list!
Admission day – what to expect?
This is a general review of what to expect when you are admitted to hospital as each hospital may have a different procedure. ( you can always ask your health professional team before hand so you know exactly what to expect).
- You will have received a letter advising you of date/time/and venue for your admission to take place. normally you will be admitted the day before your impending surgery.
- You will be met by the reception/admission nurse. Often it is a senior nurse who will have specialised in women’s health, so do not be afraid to ask questions, even though you may have asked them before, all health professionals know that people only hear snippets when they are in a traumatic or stressed state.
- You will be checked to ensure that you are the right person, so make sure your admission letter is with you. Following which they will check your general details are correct and your current general health status. If you have a cold, chest infection etc your operation may be cancelled as you will be added risk of post surgical complications. Your medication regime including alternative tablets will be addressed so make sure you bring them with you.
- Your health status will be further established through the taking of your blood pressure, temperature, and pulse and you will be asked to provide a urine sample. You might think why is this necessary as you have had these taken many times before? The bottom line is that your body is a dynamic machine that is constantly in a state of change. For example, your blood pressure may be normal one month ago, but something may have occurred to cause you to have high or low blood pressure. Of course admission to hospital is a stressful event so your blood pressure may have gone up, but this is normal and will be monitored throughout your stay in hospital. With regards your temperature this can change overnight due to your immune system counteracting an infection. With regards a urine test it is to eliminate infection, diabetes, and any other abnormalities.
- Other tests may also be carried out, such as a chest X-ray, ECG, (heart tracing) and various blood tests – all of which are to ascertain your fitness for surgery)
- Your operation will be explained again to you so that you fully understand the nature of it and various options before you sign a form that is known as an, ‘Informed Consent’. (NB this can be done via your surgeon or sister in charge)
- Doctors and nurses will examine you and your skin will be prepared for surgery. This means that your pubic hair may be removed by a shaving technique, (sometimes you may be asked if you want to do this at home before admission).
- There may be a need for you to have bowel preparation. Sometimes this can be via suppositories or a gentle enema.
- Depending on your circumstances your doctor may prescribe medicine to control your blood from clotting. If you are one of these individuals it means you will be less likely to have a deep vein thrombosis, or an embolism that can cause post operative complications.
- Your anaesthetist will also visit you and may repeat some of the questions you have already answered. He/She will be assessing you for different circumstances i.e. that you are fit to undertake a general anaesthesia or, a spinal block. They will also discuss your pre-medication, which you will be given one to two hours prior to surgery (this is to help you feel calm and prevent sickness after the operation), and how you may control your pain and discomfort post surgery.
- You will be told by a member of the team what time you should stop eating and drinking and what time to take any medication.
- On the morning of your operation you will be asked to take a shower or a bath. This is to ensure your body is in the optimum hygienic state prior to surgery so as to prevent/minimise any post operative infection. You will be advised not to use talcum powder, perfume or makeup, perhaps a little obvious, but you will be surprised how many women feel the need to wear makeup/perfume! Further you will be asked to remove all jewellery except your wedding ring, the reason for all of this is to ensure your safety and comfort.
- Upon completion of your ablutions you will be asked to change into a theatre gown and to put on compression stockings, Not very flattering, but essential clothing. The compression stockings (also know as anti-embolism stockings) are to prevent blood clots forming and will be worn until you are able to move around again a day or two after surgery.
- Remember these gowns tie at the back!
- Finally, you will be taken to theatre by a nurse from the ward and a theatre porter. You will be taken into the anaesthetic room first. Once you have had your anaesthetic you will not wake up until after your operation is over. Peaceful bliss!
Please do not be surprised how the admission day speeds along, you may feel that you are on a roller coaster, questions/answers/ tests etc.
SO important – don’t forget to breathe, relax and laugh!