The thought of surgery is stressful for most people. But preparing for surgery if you have diabetes, can be even more so. After all, your condition puts you at greater risk for infection and heart issues. Having diabetes can also slow down your body’s recovery process.
Asking the right questions and knowing what to do pre- and post-surgery, however, can make all the difference. Here are some ways to prepare for surgery when you have diabetes to help ensure you’re on the road to recovery as soon as possible.
Talk to your healthcare team: Be sure to tell your healthcare team about any medications you’re currently taking (including natural health products). If you take insulin, ask about appropriate dosages leading up to the day of the operation, and whether you should stop any other medications.
Discuss any concerns you have around the procedure itself and what to expect pre- and post-operation. People with diabetes often have to stay in hospital longer than those without to ensure their blood sugar levels are fully controlled.
Surgery can also be riskier if you already have diabetes-related complications. So tell your healthcare team about any issues related to your heart, kidney or eyes—or any loss of feeling in your feet and fingers.
Keep an eye on blood sugar: Focus on controlling your blood sugar levels leading up to surgery day to minimize potential complications. In the hours before the operation, you will likely need to check your levels more often. Your surgery may be delayed or even cancelled if your blood sugar levels are too high.
Start moving and eat well: Once you get the ok from your doctor, initiate or maintain your exercise routine leading up to surgery day. Getting your body moving on a regular basis—even with simple activities, such as walking or climbing stairs—will build strength and help you better tolerate the procedure and recovery period. Feeding your body with nourishing foods will do the same.
Keep stress in check: Stress can work against you by elevating your blood sugar levels. Talk to your doctor or surgeon to ease any concerns around surgery. If you’re still anxious, try some self-calming techniques in the days leading up to your surgery, such as meditation, yoga or listening to music. Studies have shown even doing something as simple as reading a book or magazine pre-operation can ease anxiety by focusing your mind elsewhere.
Bring your supplies: Be sure to carry a printed list of all your medications and meal plan to share with hospital staff and any family/friends who accompany you to the hospital on the day of surgery. Bring your diabetes medication clearly marked with your name on it as well. Hospitals don’t always have every type of insulin or other diabetes medications readily available.
Even after surgery, keeping a close check on blood sugar levels is key to prevent hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Watch for any signs of infection, such as fever, or an incision that is oozing, red and swollen, or hot to the touch. Be sure to move around in bed and get up frequently if you can to prevent bed sores. If you have neuropathy (loss of feeling in your feet or hands), you will have to make an extra effort to look for sores as you may not be able to feel them.
Eating high-quality, nutritious foods will also help in building your immune system so you can get back on track and resume your normal routine as soon as possible.
By being prepared, not only will you ease the stress associated with having surgery, you will increase your chances for a safe and successful operation.