(October 4, 2013) Gearing up for surgery can be overwhelming, especially when you’re experiencing joint pain or reduced mobility. Your to-do list may overflow with tasks such as getting the green light from your primary care physician, assembling your personal and medical information, planning ahead for your recovery, and obtaining any necessary exams and tests.
The good news is you don’t need to go through the process alone. The medical team at Inova Joint Replacement Center at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital is available to help you navigate every aspect of the pre-op process so you’ll feel confident about your procedure and your recovery.
“The pre-op process is a crucial part of the surgical experience,” notes Katie Slattery, Executive Director of Inova Joint Replacement Center and Orthopedics. “We have a lot of information and research demonstrating that the more emphasis you put on the preoperative experience, the less anxiety the patients and their families feel, which positively impacts their outcomes after surgery.”
Inova Joint Replacement Center’s pre-operative clinic allows you to meet the caregivers who will be providing your treatment, complete a medical evaluation, and learn about the procedure and recovery process. The comprehensive orientation is overseen by joint replacement patient care navigator Abel Simutami, RN, BSN, MBA/ MSM, who ensures that every aspect of your pre-op process is completed and that you have all the information you need to feel equipped for surgery.
“We want our patients to feel as if preparing for surgery is effortless,” says Simutami. “We’ve streamlined the pre-operative process so that we can help our patients go through the entire process in two hours or less and get back to their daily lives.”
When you arrive at the center, usually two weeks prior to your surgery, you will meet with Simutami, who will guide you through the pre-operative process. After visiting the lab to complete any necessary tests, you will then meet the caregivers who will provide care both during and after your surgery, including a physical therapist, a case management specialist, a pharmacy technician and a physician.
Ready for Action
For George K.E. Williams, the pre-operative clinic provided everything he needed to feel confident about his pending reconstructive knee joint surgery. Having played sports throughout his life, Williams, now 72, was living in constant pain and relying on crutches, a cane and a scooter to remain mobile. He looked forward to regaining his mobility after the surgery, but having been diagnosed previously with cardiomyopathy — a weakening of the heart muscle — he wanted the anesthesiology department to be well informed about his prior condition.
On the day of his pre-op clinic at the Inova Joint Replacement Center, Williams and his wife, Angie, arrived at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital at 7 a.m. from their home in Front Royal, Virginia. They checked in at the front desk, and with the guidance of Simutami, Williams completed all his lab tests, including a blood test and an EKG, and conversed with the specialists who would be providing care on the day of his surgery and throughout his recovery. One of the highlights for Williams was visiting with members of the anesthesiology team who were able to review his heart history and put his mind at ease.
“After going through the process of the pre-op appointment, I found it to be a little more comforting in the sense that you know that you’re not there by yourself,” Williams says. “You know that there are all of these people who are attentive to you, making sure that they get all the right facts and information to make the surgery the best possible.”
And in the end, for Williams, who was walking with the use of a cane just four weeks after the procedure, the surgery could not have gone better. “From my perspective it was like a miracle happened to me,” he says. “I couldn’t walk for five years, and now
I am able to reach that goal of being able to walk without assistance.”
Commit to Recovery
Getting in shape and maintaining good health prior to joint replacement surgery can help you face the physical challenges ahead. How quickly you bounce back depends on your commitment to recovery. Here are some strategies you can use now to ensure the best possible outcome:
- Ask your doctor about exercises that will strengthen your upper body to help you use walking aids during recovery.
- Talk to your doctor about exercises that will build the muscles supporting your joint.
- Learn about exercises used during rehabilitation and practice them now so you can perform them easily during recovery.
- Avoid alcohol and cigarettes.
- Eat nutritious meals to build your strength and your immune system.
Your at-home recovery is an exciting time to regain mobility and independence. But even before you have your surgery, there are some important steps you can take
for a smooth recovery:
- Arrange for someone to stay with you for several days post-surgery.
- Move furniture so that you can easily access your bedroom, bathroom and kitchen while using a walker.
- Stow area rugs and remove electrical cords from walkways.
- Prepare and freeze meals in advance or stock up on ready-made dishes.
- If your home has two levels, create a sleeping area on the ground floor.
- Install a toilet-seat riser with arms, a shower chair and a safety bar in your shower or bath.
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