When the consultations have all been finished and the necessary tests and studies have been completed, and the date has been scheduled, there is still the matter of actually having the surgery. Patients use a myriad of analogies to describe what this experience is like for them. These have ranged from an incredulous â€œthatâ€™s it, the surgery is over?â€ to feeling like they were on
a conveyor belt they couldnâ€™t escape from. Similarly, some patients will come to the OR saying â€œI donâ€™t want to know anything, donâ€™t tell me about the risks, and I donâ€™t want to see or hear anything.â€
Some patients will present for surgery with a clipboard for note-taking. And in a category of itsâ€™ own is the stress and near hysteria some parents exhibit when sending a child to the operating room. All of these reactions are common and normal. How you experience your operative experience depends on your particular coping mechanisms, your previous medical and surgical experiences, and the individual details of your operation.
We feel fortunate that, when training at our respective hospitals, it was customary for both the anesthesiology and surgical residents to have fairly detailed conversations with the patients about what to expect in the operative period.
Over the years these conversations with the patients have helped us gain of sense about what information was most helpful to them in maintaining a sense of autonomy, dignity, and control.
It is important to understand that going to the OR for a surgery involves events that happen on a chronological basis or what is known as the perioperative timeline. The perioperative period includes three discrete intervals– the preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative periods. There is variation as to exactly what happens when during a hospitalizaton for surgery (depending on your specific operating room ), but the similarities across a wide spectrum of surgical locations are great.