If you normally take any medications the pre-assessment team (in clinic D), or your anaesthetist, will give you instructions as to which are to be taken and which are not; some drugs can interact with the anaesthetic and operation so need to be withheld. You can have a glass of water at 6am to take your medication. You will be given compression stockings to reduce the risk of blood clots forming in your legs. It is in your best interests to wear these stockings for six weeks after your surgery, even when you return home. This will be reviewed when you see your nurse specialist and dietitian two weeks after discharge from hospital.
Your anaesthetist will see you on the day before or day of your operation. You should have already seen an anaesthetist in pre-assessment clinic (clinic D). Amongst other things they will talk to you about pain relief after surgery. The standard approach is to offer several techniques which, when combined together, provide good pain relief. The majority of patients receive ‘spinal analgesia’. This involves administering a spinal anaesthetic (an injection in the middle of the lower back) which is performed with you awake, prior to the general anaesthetic. A strong morphine-like drug is used, often along with a small dose of local anaesthetic. This provides good pain relief in conjunction with other methods.
When you wake from your surgery you will be either in the recovery area or on the critical care unit. Do not be alarmed – spending at least the first night on the critical care unit is normal as you will initially require a high level of observation. You may need to spend a few days on the critical care unit or you may go back to the special care area on ward 36 the next day.
Both the critical care unit and special care on ward 36 are mixed sex areas. This means you may be next to, or opposite a patient of the opposite sex. The nursing staff need to be able to observe you and your cardiac monitor at all times but please be assured that your privacy and dignity are always very important to us.