What should I bring to the hospital?
As pleasant as we want your stay with us to be, you won’t need to bring much in the way of luggage.
Please Leave the Following at Home
- Credit cards
- Large sums of money
- Electronic devices
- Expensive clothing
What to Bring
- Eyeglasses, contact lenses or dentures with cases
- Knee-length lightweight gowns, robes or nightshirts
- Loose-fitting shorts and T-shirts
- Pacer /ICD card
- Hearing aids, prostheses, ambulatory aids, as applicable
- Your driver’s license and insurance card
- A list of all medications you are currently taking
- Your medications in their original container to the hospital to review and to verify doses/strengths. Please designate a family member to take these medications home after verification.
What Else Should I Know?
- Do not eat, chew gum, suck on or eat mints, drink, or smoke after midnight the night before your surgery unless instructed to do so by your physician.
- If diabetic, check with your primary care physician about how to adjust your diabetes medication. Surgery time varies with each individual case.
Your Hospital Stay: What to Expect From Start to Finish
Before Your Surgery
This summary gives you a good idea of what the entire process looks like from an overall standpoint. Your surgery will be scheduled in conjunction with your physician’s office. From that office, you will be provided with preliminary education about your surgery and recovery process.
You will be scheduled for special pre-admission testing. Your doctor’s office will provide you with the details as to where your pre-admission testing will take place, and at what time. You will be given a surgery date by your physician’s office. You will be called with a surgery time during the late afternoon the day before surgery. Patients with insulin dependent diabetes or latex allergies will be scheduled as early as possible on the surgery schedule. If a Monday surgery, you will be called on Friday. You will be called the last business day before a holiday.
The Day of Your Surgery
Entrance from the main lobby and check in at the Surgery Center. Once you check in, you will be directed to registration where you will complete your registration. From the Surgery Center you will leave your family and be admitted to the pre-op area where final preparations for your surgery will be made. One family member can wait in our pre-op area. Addition all family members are welcome to stay in our Surgery Waiting Room.
Check in the main lobby at the registration desk just across from the information desk. There you will complete any remaining paper- work before you are taken to the pre-operative area. You will then leave your family and be admitted to the pre-op area where final preparations for your surgery will be made. One family member can wait in our pre- op area. Additional family members are welcome to stay in our Surgery Waiting Room. Your family will be able to join you once you arrive in our inpatient department. The waiting room is located in the main lobby where your family will be notified when the operation has been completed.
When you enter our institution, please let our pre-admission testing or registration team members know of any special communication needs such as interpretive services or special hearing or visual devices.
Before Your Surgery
You will be visited by an anesthesia team member in the preoperative waiting area. Your anesthesia team will consist of a nurse anaesthetist (a certified registered nurse anaesthetist or CRNA) and an anaesthesiologist (a doctor with specialized training in the field of anaesthesiology). One or both will be with you at all times during your procedure. Your medical history will be reviewed and then the options, benefits and risks will be discussed with you. We will do our best to answer any anesthesia related questions at that time.
Your surgeon will visit you and confirm the area to be operated on. He will then mark the surgical site with an indelible pen. You will have an IV inserted to allow the anaesthesiologist to administer necessary medications. During this time, the Anesthesia staff will interview you. When everything has been completed, you will be taken into the operating room where you will be attended by the anaesthesiologist, your surgeon and the rest of the operating room team. The amount of time that you are in the operating room will depend upon the complexity of your procedure.
We will do our best to keep you and your family/friends informed of any changes to the schedule that result in a delayed start or the procedure taking longer than planned.
Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)
After your surgery, your surgeon will meet your family in the Surgery lobby areas on the floor. You will be taken to the PACU (Post-Anesthesia Care Unit / Recovery Unit), where nurses who are specially trained to care for individuals while they are recovering from anesthesia will monitor your postoperative condition. When you wake up in PACU, the nurse will tell you where you are and that your surgery is over. You may experience some blurred vision, dry mouth, chills or nausea from the anesthesia. You may also have a sore throat if a tube was placed in your windpipe during surgery. You will experience some pain after your surgery. We will do all we can to control your pain. Your nurse will be checking on you frequently to assess your condition. However, be sure to tell your nurse if you are having pain or nausea. If so, medication is available to make you feel more comfortable.
As you wake up, you will be aware of the nurse checking your bandage and your blood pressure. You will be attached to a heart monitor and an oxygen level monitor. It is normal to hear these monitors “beep.” You may also receive oxygen through a clear plastic tube in your nose. Depending on the type of anesthesia you were given and your reaction to it you will stay in PACU for one to three hours. No visitors are allowed in PACU.
How will my Pain be controlled after surgery?
Pain and Discomfort Come from many sources. Illness, injury and surgery are the three most common sources of pain. The amount and intensity of pain that a person feels differs from one person to another; no two people are exactly alike.
During and immediately following your surgery, you will receive pain medication. As you begin to recover from your surgery, you will be switched to oral pain medication.
- You will NOT be totally pain free
- YOU are the expert on your pain
- Please tell us when you hurt or are uncomfortable
- Pain medication is usually taken regularly
- Remember – the longer you wait to take pain medicine, the worse your pain will become, thus taking longer to get under control.
- Tell us if your pain medication is not working or if you don’t like the way it makes you feel.
- It’s true – unrelieved pain robs your energy and takes away important time you could spend with your loved ones. Your nurse will ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the worst imaginable scale. We cannot relieve all of your pain, but we should be able to reduce it to a level of five or less.
Don’t be afraid to try different things to find out what works best for you!
What Else Can I do to Control my Pain?
Other activities that help control pain include:
- Listening to relaxation tapes
- Watching TV
- Reading a book
- Changing positions
Having a massage
Going Home after Spine Surgery
A care manager will visit you to talk about your home needs. When you will be discharged will depend on your progress. You will not be discharged from the hospital until your doctor feels you are medically able to be released. Most patients having spine surgery will be returning home after discharge. You should begin thinking now about what equipment, personal help and resources you may already have at home and what you may need once you leave the hospital.
It is uncommon that a patient would need to go to a nursing or rehabilitation facility after surgery instead of going directly home. For this reason it is important to remember to arrange to have someone stay with you at least for the first week following your discharge. Allow others to assist you with the necessary tasks, such as driving, cooking, cleaning and shopping.
Discharge instructions for spinal surgery: You will receive discharge instructions the day you leave. Your nurse will review those instructions with you. It will include any follow-up appointments, a list of all your medications and instructions that are specific to your surgery.
The surgeon will write a pain medication prescription for you. You may have it filled at the hospital pharmacy or your own pharmacy. To avoid needing prescriptions for pain medications during the weekends, evenings or holidays, plan ahead if you are getting low on pain medication.
Call Your Surgeon for Any of The Following:
- Sudden severe pain in your back or leg that pain medication does not control.
- Pain, swelling or redness in the lower part of your leg.
- Inability to move your arms/legs as well as when you left the hospital.
- Bright redness, warmth, swelling or pain around your incision
- Bleeding or drainage from your incision.
- Fever over 101° or chills.
Pain management Take your pain medication as prescribed by your surgeon. Avoid alcoholic beverages while taking pain medication. Increase your intake of water to at least eight glasses a day. Add fibre to your diet by eating fruit, vegetables and grains. Take a stool softener as needed.
Care of Your Wound Your surgeon will provide you with specific instructions on how to care for your wound at discharge. When you are instructed that you are able to shower, wash your incision gently with a liquid antibacterial soap and water and pat it dry. Do not take a bath. Do not use lotions, powders or oils on your incision until your doctor OKs it.
Signs of infection If you notice any of these signs, call your doctor immediately: