As soon as you arrive, you'll probably be asked to fill out several medical forms, including the sometimes alarming disclaimer forms for surgery. These forms can sometimes contain a significant amount of information and you will probably not be in the frame of mind to mentally process them. Try to be prepared for this -- it's normal hospital procedure. Do the best you can with the forms, and be sure to ask the hospital staff if you have any questions.
Your spouse will change into a paper robe. Make yourself comfortable as the medical staff take blood and otherwise prepare your spouse for surgery. You will receive visits from members of the endoscopy or surgical staff: anesthesiologist, surgeons, fellows, and nurses. You may be asked questions about your spouse's family medical history, personal medical history, diet, and medications. Sometimes several different staff members will ask the very same questions. This is also typical, and while it is frustrating, it is important to prevent medical errors.
- Tests Before Surgery
- Understanding the Risks Involved When Having Surgery
- 10 Things To Tell Your Anesthesiologist
How To Wait
When your spouse is wheeled away to undergo the procedure or the surgery, it may be an emotional moment for you both, especially if your spouse is very ill. Try to be encouraging and supportive (i.e. "I'll see you in a bit," or "I'll be here when you wake up"). It's natural for you both to feel a certain amount of anxiety when you are separated.
Waiting for your spouse can be difficult, especially if you are worried about the procedure. Hospitals often have special waiting rooms with TVs and reading material for family members who are waiting for loved ones undergoing surgery. If the surgery is going to be extensive, it may take several hours, and you will want to be as relaxed and as comfortable as you can be. Make sure the surgical staff knows where to find you, especially if you decide to go to the cafeteria or the gift shop.
Someone from the staff should let you know when your spouse is taken into recovery. If not, don't be afraid to ask hospital staff about how things are going. It is also a common occurrence that surgery takes longer than expected.
You may or may not be allowed to go into recovery to see your loved one. You may feel as though there is not much you can do at this point, but some comforting words and a hand to hold can be a great comfort to someone who has come out of surgery. Be aware that your loved one may be very groggy and in some pain. It can be discomfiting to see your spouse like this at first, but the anesthesia will wear off in time, and your partner will behave more like themselves again.
Moving To A RoomIf your spouse was having an outpatient procedure or a test such as a colonoscopy, you will likely be going home before long. If your loved one must remain an inpatient in the hospital, he or she will be moving to a room. Once the staff has your spouse moved into a room, you can both begin the process to healing.
People joke that one does not get any rest in a hospital -- but this is not exactly far from the truth. The hospital routine includes nurses taking vital signs at regular intervals (even during the night), doctors coming by on their rounds, and medication being administered by IV or by mouth. the interruptions can be annoying when you know that your spouse needs rest, but these interventions do serve a purpose. Monitoring for infection or other surgical complications is important.
Your loved one will likely not be allowed to eat any food until bowel sounds have returned. Once that has happened, some liquids will be allowed. This can be a very upsetting time if your spouse has an appetite, so try to be supportive. If your spouse does not have an appetite, encouragement may help them to get started eating again.
No matter what the surgery or procedure, and what the difficulties or complications, your loved one will need support and encouragement during this time. You will also need support, so don't be hesitant to seek it from your friends and family.