A patients view

Going into Hospital

Preparation for Surgery

Different hospitals will give varying amounts of notice for surgery, for some it could be as little as 2-4 weeks. When the date for surgery is given it is important therefore to be prepared. (See section on hints & tips).

Pre-operative Assessment

The aim of the Pre-operative Assessment Clinic is to ensure that patients are fit for their proposed surgery and adequately prepared for their admission to hospital.

Your pre-op assessment will be about 2 weeks prior to your surgery.  This appointment may last a few hours as there are a number of tests and assessments to complete – blood tests, ECG, X-ray, medical photography, anaesthetic assessment. A nurse will also be filling in all the forms necessary for your hospital stay and you will have chance to talk to her about anything concerning you.  You should take with you a list of any medications you are currently prescribed and be able to give her details of previous surgery and current medical conditions.  Next of kin details will also be necessary.

Admission

Your admission papers will tell you when and where to present.  For some patients (usually dependent on the type of surgery) admission will be on the same day.  However, for the more technical surgeries, those requiring further anaesthetic considerations and those requiring more tests it is usual to be admitted the day before. Hospitals are frequently running on full capacity so you may be shown to a waiting area until your bed is allocated.  A nurse will be assigned to you on admission – please do not hesitate to ask questions about anything concerning you.

Visiting times

It is usual for each ward to have set visiting times.  Please adhere to these wherever possible – this makes for good patient care and helps with infection control.  Please ask the nurse-in-charge if you have a problem with the visiting times.

Going to theatre

On the day of surgery you will be told at what time you should stop eating and drinking – for morning cases this will be from midnight, with clear fluids until about 0500hrs; for afternoon cases this will be from a light early breakfast with clear fluids until 1100hrs.

Each hospital will have a routine which will be explained to you by your nursing/medical team.  For some this will include skin preparation which will be in the form of a wash/lotion (this may have been given to you at Pre-assessment together with instructions for use).  If the surgeon has marked your skin for surgery, do not wash these marks off. You be required to wear anti-embolism socks to and you may also be given a small injection daily which will help to prevent blood clots.  This will stop once you are discharged (unless there is a medical need).

Make sure to give any valuables to the person who takes you to your surgery.

Hospital Stay

Following your procedure you may spend a while in the Recovery Suite after which you will be taken to the ward where you will spend the next few days until you are discharged.  It is a good idea to restrict your visitors for the first few days as you will be tired and you need this time to help you heal and get over your operation.  Visitors are well-meaning but can be very tiring and you can make good “use” of them once you go home – making tea, shopping, cleaning!!!!

The type of surgery you have had will determine whether you have an intravenous infusion (drip) post-operatively; you will almost certainly have drains to your wounds which will be removed once draining minimal amounts of fluid.  You will be expected to get out of bed and move around at the earliest opportunity and you may be visited by the Physiotherapist who will instruct you on breathing exercises and other exercises specific to your operation.  Pain relief will be given as required.  Eating and drinking is encouraged and you should tell the nurse if you are having problems with your bowels.

Your Breast Reconstruction Nurse or Breast Care Nurse may visit you during your hospital stay.  Discharge information, including any hospital appointments, will be given to you before you go home.  The branch of Keeping Abreast in your area may be able to offer help post-operatively.  If you do not have a branch close to you, please contact Keeping Abreast via the website www.keepingabreast.org.uk to enquire as to what help can be offered.

What to take into hospital:

Your breast or reconstruction nurse will give you a list of basic items you will need for your stay.   Why not check out the list of items some of our volunteers have recommended too;

What to take in to hospital

“So here I am 6 years later using my experiences, emotions and all information I have gained to help Keeping Abreast empower others in the road to reconstruction.”

Jacky – Right Mastectomy 2006. DIEP Reconstruction 2008

 

Take a look at our personal stories

Support

Keeping Abreast have a number of groups across the country that have volunteers ready to offer you advice and information so that you can make an informed choice about whether to have reconstruction and the types available to you. To find someone to talk to visit our Support Groups page.