Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Prepare for Surgery with Incision Decisions: A Book Review

Getting Ready for Surgery Can Be Traumatic

Very few people really want surgery, and most would do anything possible to avoid it. Sometimes, though, it simply has to be done. It may save your life during a health emergency or it may simply help you continue to be more comfortable or independent.

Get Ready for Surgery with Incision Decisions: A Book Review
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

I've had six surgeries as an adult -- four in a hospital and two in a surgery center where I could go home the same day. I wish I'd known about Kaye Newton's book, Incision Decisions: A Guide to Getting Through Surgery, Recovery, and Your Hospital Stay before having my surgeries. Since we can't always predict when emergencies that may require surgery will happen, it would be smart for every family to have a copy of this book on hand to take to the hospital in case there is an unpredictable surgery. 

What To Do Before Surgery

Medical Preparation for Your Surgery

This section of Incision Decisions explains how to pick the right surgeon and hospital. Getting ready to meet your surgeon for the first time might cause some anxiety. Kaye answers all the questions you may have about this meeting and more. She helps you get ready for your initial consultation with the surgeon and suggests questions to ask.  She also suggests tactful ways to get a second opinion. The book includes a guide near the end to help you understand the medical jargon your surgeon and the medical personnel at the hospital may use so that you won't be confused by their explanations.

In the chapter on choosing a hospital, Kaye explains how to pick the best hospital your insurance plan will cover. She answers questions about outpatient versus inpatient surgery, surgery that requires travel, and the best times to schedule surgery. 

Organizing Help and Information before Surgery

This section answers more questions than I would even have thought to ask. The author stresses the importance of having an advocate with you in the hospital and what to do if you don't have one. She also covers what your advocate needs to know and do. 

The book will help you determine how much help you will need and provides a Six-Week Recovery Coverage Checklist to help you plan. There is also a blank copy at the back for you to use in your own planning. This checklist ensures you won't forget some of the helping tasks you may not have thought of. It suggests you appoint someone to organize those who have asked what they can do to help, lists websites for organizing meals and rides, and explains how to get through your surgery on your own without helpers if you must. 

Incision Decisions Helps You Get Organized before You Go to the Hospital

Before going to the hospital, you will need to organize all the information and paperwork required for admission. This book explains how to set up a central repository for all your medical information. It also explains how to create your personal health record. 

You will, of course, need to figure out how to pay for the surgery. This usually means meeting with a hospital financial counselor before admittance, as well as finding out beforehand just what your insurance will cover. If you don't have insurance, your hospital may have a financial counselor available to help you explore payment options. The book even explains how to raise money with crowdfunding.  

Physical and Mental Preparation for Surgery

Most people are a bit scared before surgery. This section of the book answers questions about anesthesia, pain, scars, and even all those needles you will encounter. Here you will find information to help you deal with your anxieties. Even with that information, many may still be anxious. To deal with this, the author suggests people pray, meditate, or even just keep busy enough to distract themselves. Following the helpful suggestions in this book will keep patients very busy getting ready for a hospital stay.  

Are you worried about how to explain your surgery to your children? The book will help you reassure them about what will happen at the hospital and who will care for them when you are gone. You can also let them know how they can help when you are away and when you come back home. 

Newton offers suggestions on how to prepare for time off work and get yourself into better physical shape before your surgery. You may need to stop smoking. You will also probably need to refrain from taking some of your medications and supplements a short time before your surgery. Do you need dental work? Get it done before the surgery if possible. The book will help you implement these suggestions. 

If you have chronic health conditions, you may need to make extra preparations. Do you have sleep apnea? If you snore loudly, you may have it, and you should find out before your surgery to see if you need to take additional measures before your surgery. 

Most people will have to rest for hours, days, or weeks after surgery as their bodies heal. This section of the book explains what doctors mean by"rest," and how to do it. The author also discusses what to wear and what not to wear after surgery and how to get a handicapped placard if you need it. 

Preparing Your Home for Recovery Time

After you come home from the hospital, you will probably have to ease back into your normal routines gradually and you may not be able to reach or lift as much as you could before you left.  That means you may need to rearrange your kitchen. You also may have to set aside and prepare a certain room for your recovery. I had to do that after my foot surgery since I was supposed to keep my foot elevated at all times. 

I chose my recliner in the family room as my recovery place. I put a portable table beside it to my left with everything I would need to work on my laptop, eat my meals, read, etc. I put a surge-protected power cord near my chair and bought a Kindle Paperwhite so I'd never run out of things to read. 

The end table on my right held food and drink. I also bought a lap desk for my laptop computer and a ventilated laptop stand for it as an extra precaution. That enabled me to keep writing from my chair. I spent 90% of my recovery time while awake eating, reading, or working on my laptop, so my purchases and preparations made it possible for me to keep everything I needed beside me most of the time. 

Kaye Newton explains how to organize your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and laundry areas so that you will be able to easily reach everything you need after you return home to recover. She recommends getting a reacher-grabber like this Handi-Reacher, which I reviewed here.  We bought one before my husband's hip replacement surgery and I found it useful after my surgeries, too. Both of us still use it daily. In fact, we bought several more to keep handy throughout the house. My husband even keeps one in the car. 

When you return home you will also still need to eat. Friends may bring you meals at first, but after those meals stop coming you will need to have meals you can fix easily, especially if you live alone. Newton provides a suggested shopping list to help meet this need. She also lists activities you may enjoy during your recovery period to keep you from getting bored.  

To the Hospital and Home Again

Hospital stays need some preparation. Incision Decisions prepares you for just about anything you may encounter at the hospital -- preadmission procedures, donating blood to yourself, packing for your visit, and more. These are among the many questions Newton answers about your hospital stay:

  • What if I get sick just before I'm to go to the hospital?
  • How can I reduce the chance of medical errors?
  • How can I avoid getting an infection at the hospital?
  • How do I manage to get enough sleep in the hospital? 
  • How do I manage visitors? 
  • What can I expect hospital routines to be like?

The remaining chapters of the book deal with what you can expect to happen during your hospital stay and how to deal with any issues you may have at the hospital. They also cover the problems you may face once you get home to recover.

The last section deals with how to ease back into your normal life. That includes driving, sex after surgery, figuring out your medical bills, and cooking again. 

My Recommendation
After reading this book, I can't think of one issue a surgical patient might have to face it did not address. It's a book to use for reference before your surgery, while you are at the hospital, and after you come home. I recommend it to all families who have a family member about to have a surgical procedure. I don't think you could find any book so thorough. It even offers suggestions on how to remind your medical professionals to wash their hands before touching you. I've often thought about how awkward that might be. 

I'm glad I have a copy now, since either my husband or I may need another surgery sooner than we'd like. Why not get yourself a copy now? You never know how soon you will need it. I suggest you get the paper edition so you can easily flip back and forth to the sections you need. I would not want to go to the hospital without it. 

Prepare for Surgery with Incision Decisions: A Book Review by Barb Radisavljeivc

Disclaimer: The author gave me a free copy of this book for review purposes, but this review is still my honest opinion about the book. If I owned a general bookstore I would definitely stock it and recommend it to customers facing surgery. I'm quite sure if they actually saw it, they would buy it. It's that useful. The copyright date is 2017, so its information is up-to-date.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. Barbara, this book sounds like the perfect guide for pre- and post-op decisions and preparations. Very helpful information.

    1. I can't think of a guide that could be more complete.

  2. This is an excellent review! You brought up some issues that I haven't even considered and this sounds like the perfect book to help any and all of us prepare for surgery. Thank you for the review and the recommendation.

    1. It's an excellent book.I honestly wouldn't want to go to the hospital without it.

  3. Great review for anyone facing surgery!

    1. I can't think of anything this book leaves out.

  4. Barbara, I agree with you that this would be an excellent book to have for anyone who might be in need of surgery in the near or far future. Being prepared is half the battle. Somethings don't change with age, like how to prepare your place of recovery etc. Surgical procedures may differ, but the end result will be the same. How wonderful that your review would come in so handy. I will have to get my hands on a copy. I'm sure that some of the information will be applicable even though we don't deal with insurances like you do. Thanks for a great review.

    1. Often it's hard to think clearly and remember everything we need to do when we are facing surgery. That's one reason this book is so useful.

  5. I've had a few small surgeries, but nothing requiring a lengthy recovery. What I am most concerned about is the impending hip replacement my husband will need. I can tell by this excellent review that there are issues that I never would have thought of on my own to prepare for in advance. Thanks for sharing your review.

    1. I wouldn't want to face a hip surgery or knee surgery without the information in this book. I wish I'd had it when my husband had his hips replaced.


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