During the shelter in place order, not only have nonessential businesses shut down, but many healthcare procedures have been deemed nonessential. Of course, urgent or emergent care is being provided, but we have been asked to postpone "elective" procedures to conserve resources and help prevent the spread of the virus. In some areas of the country, this has been more than necessary.
Week after week, I have been doing my best to call each patient personally and explain the situation. My patient's have been very understanding. Like everyone, we are learning more about the coronavirus every day, but we still have a ways to go. It’s important to me though to stay in touch with my patients and keep them updated on all of the information I have and can give them to help ease their nerves.
Many people are asking me, what do I do now? Believe me, it is just as hard on us to not provide medical care. First, be assured that your doctor is following guidelines to ensure your safety and the safety of others. This is a delicate balance that changes day by day. Second, communicate with your doctor if your condition worsens during this time. You may need to have your procedure done now to prevent a complication. Third, keep yourself healthy and prepared, so when your procedure or surgery is rescheduled, you can have the best outcome.
Regardless of a nationwide pandemic, preparing for surgery is really key to a healthy recovery. Some people refer to this as "prehab" and some surgeons will prescribe to National Guidelines in Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS). These programs have been shown to shorten hospital stay and improve outcomes after surgical procedures, such as colon resections. ERAS guidelines are specific to certain surgeries and will be prescribed by your physician.
There are many more simple things that you can do at home if you find yourself waiting for a surgery or procedure:
- Stop smoking! Quitting smoking for as little as two weeks before a procedure can reduce inflammation in the lungs and improve recovery.
- Eat a healthy diet filled with fruits and vegetables. Minimize processed food.
- Exercise daily. 30 minutes of exercise a day will get you strong and in shape for recovery. Follow your doctor's guidelines, of course!
- Call your doctor if your condition is worsening.
I hope this helps those of you who are faced with this situation.