I encourage all of Herbal Momma readers to study this article. You never know when a loved one or even yourself may need this helpful information. You may want to sign up for Susan's monthly newsletter.
~I was blessed to spend time extra time with my mom in January, both during her knee replacement in Denver, and also for a week in Nebraska to assist with a good start on rehab. It brought up a lot of issues for me to consider and debate about, both personally and professionally. Naturally, I want to pass on my findings to you--as a starting point for your own journey.
Especially after my friend Debrah died far too young from a MRSA-type infection she picked up in "routine surgery", I look at surgery as a very last choice--except in emergency situations when modern medicine shines brightly. Before going under the knife (or taking pharmaceuticals riddled with negative side effects), keep pushing for options. Acupuncture, massage, physical therapy, nutritional therapy, chiropractic and of course, the wise use of herbal remedies are the basics I look to first.
When you start asking your practitioner questions, Googling for information and learning what your friends are exploring you often come across something you had never even considered--like injection therapy such as regenerative joint injection, also known as prolotherapy, which I recently learned can often delay or replace the need for joint replacement surgery. Amazing.
However, if you do choose surgery, there is much you can do to assure success and a faster recovery by planning ahead.
- Improve your daily health choices as much as possible prior to surgery by paying special attention to quality whole foods and strengthening your muscles through exercise, especially in the areas surrounding the part of your body having the surgery. Even those with limited range of motion can practice isometric exercises--setting the stage for a faster recovery. Two to three weeks is ideal, but even a few days of self-care attention can help you recover faster.
- Prior to surgery, get a list of all medications you may have to take, along with the PDR (Physcians' Desk Reference) listing of potential side effects. This empowers you to make alternative choices with your doctor for any you have serious concerns about, and also can help you consider non-pharmaceutical alternatives. I've assisted a number of clients in creating herbal formulas for some of those alternatives, as well as commonly putting together a Post-Surgical formula to speed healing and get those drugs out of your liver faster. Check with your favorite practitioner about a similar approach.
- Ask an advocate, preferably a close friend or family member, to write down notes when meeting with your surgeon ahead of time, and also to be with you in the hospital. Accommodations can often be made for an advocate to stay right in your room at the hospital and when you are "out of it" from anesthesia, medications and pain, you definitely want someone looking out for you.
- Choose a hospital with an automated pharmaceutical dispensing system that minimizes errors. Since the number three (some say #1) highest cause of death is medical treatment, this is critical. Ask about it ahead of time and if possible, take a tour of the hospital.
- Ask your advocate to push for more information if unexpected things arise at the hospital. Providing them with a copy of your living will (just in case) and perhaps a copy of your Five Wishes ahead of time will help. A good phrase to remember is, "What other choices do we have?"
- If a rehab facility might be helpful, explore those options ahead of time and, if possible, tour facilities prior to your surgery. But remember...they get paid for keeping you there as long as your insurance covers it, often long after you would improve faster at home as long as you have support there.
- Pray; and ask others to pray for you. I discovered Healing Words by Larry Dossey, M.D. many years ago, and continue to suggest it often. The cool thing about this book is that it was written by a very bright, left-brain, Harvard-trained physician who set out to prove that praying doesn't work--and ended up proving just the opposite. Even when those being prayed for were unaware of it, they healed faster. And when we pray for the serenity to handle anything that might happen, we go into surgery with a lighter heart--and stronger immune system.
Copyright © 2009 Susan E. Mead, M.H.