Nobody likes to spend time in a hospital, especially as a patient. Last month, I had the necessity to go in for surgery at our local hospital. While I did have the luxury of calling it "elective surgery" vs. emergency surgery, the ramifications are still the same: mostly fear. Will everything go OK, will there be complications, recovery time, pain, time lost from work and away from family and everything our active imaginations can dream up. Since my stay was elective (not really- it was either do the corrective surgery or submit to a life of painful surprises) I had the comfort of having time to prepare. I've been often asked what to do when one find's themselves in this situation, so I thought I would share with you my process leading up to my stay in Good Sam.
I called my family, and explained to them what was going on, described the surgery to the best of my understanding, where I would be, how long the doctor expected my recovery to take, and answered a host of questions. I explained to them that I had put them on the list of "interested parties" and gave them their codes so they could call in for updates on my surgery and recovery. Don't miss this step- your loved ones will be filled with trepidation- being told that because of HIPPA laws your information cannot be given out is upsetting. Be sure to put them on your list when you go in for your pre-op interview and tests.
I called my attorney to make sure my legal documents were in order, including my Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Living Will and Health Care Proxy. I do this every three years or so as I recommend to my clients as well, so a short call didnâ€™t hurt. It's nice to know he's watching my back if something should go wrong.
I called my accountant since we were at the start of tax season to make sure I did not have anything to sign or do in the next few weeks.
I made sure the bills were paid and up to date: coming home to a cold house is not my idea of a recuperation party!
I made arrangement for any coverage I needed, either at work and at home. Snow plowing, assistance at home, notifying clients: just making sure I left no holes unfilled. It is at times like this that you realize just how much we do each and every day out of habit and routine, and what would happen if we were not there to do them. Daily tasks like taking out the trash or walking the dog, which we do on auto-pilot are left undone until you make arrangements for someone else to temporally step in and fill your shoes.
Thank goodness, everything went text book as the doctor called it- all according to plan. Now it comes time to come home, which is the most frustrating part- the recovery period. Don't think just because you're out of the hospital everything is back to normal. For me, everything involved pain, so it was fast to put a damper on anything my mind was telling my body to do. Preparation is needed here too for assistance during the recovery period, when you have the urge to do things, but the body says "no way." Even the simplest of things are a chore, and everything hurts. Time heals all, as they say- you just have to be patient. Not one to sit in one place for too long, it was a test of my fortitude and patience, not that I had a choice. I did catch up on some old movies I had on TiVo from the year of the flood, and did some reading that I had been meaning to do for some time. They say there is a reason for everything- perhaps mine was to get me to slow down for a week and rest.
As a Certified Financial Plannerâ„¢ my job is to help my clients' plan for their future including contingencies, or at least those that we can predict. Itâ€™s the ones' that come out of left field that tend to throw us off kilter. If you have the opportunity to plan, take advantage of the situation and put all your ducks on a row as best you can... the pain meds help too!
Thank you Dr. Kaye: you're everything a patient could want in a doctor and so much more- now if you could surgically remove the snow from the golf course I'm ready to start therapy!