I had my lap a couple of days ago, and thought you may like to hear my story in case you're preparing for your own.
I had to get up early to have toast/tea before 7am, then no food afterwards (my surgery was pm). I was told I could drink water until 11 am so I sipped water throughout the morning BUT this turned out to have been a mistake - they would prefer small glasses of water (100ml) periodically so they can better guess what's in your stomach later.
Got to the hospital early (St Thomas', London), and was seen pretty quickly by a nurse who got me changed and asked initial questions (like fasting), and checked blood pressure etc. I was given a small locker to which I had access throughout the day for putting my clothes etc. into (but they recommend no valuables are brought). I'd been recommended to bring slippers and this definitely made me more comfortable.
Waited for about an hour then was seen by the anaesthetist to check fasting instructions (again), and ask about any previous experiences of general anaesthetic.
After another short wait I saw the surgical team: three lovely ladies who exuded competence and compassion at every stage. They went over what was going to happen again (with both my husband and me), to make sure we were both comfortable proceeding. They inserted a cannula so they could take a blood test (double-checking my blood type in case of the small chance a transfusion was needed), and for the general anaesthetic later.
At this point we were asked if I wanted a coil fitted at the same time. We said no as this was new information to us and didn't want to have to decide at that moment. I suggest that even if this hasn't been raised with you before a lap you consider if you want it inserted during the op (but your GP should be able to do it later in any case).
I was also asked if I would consent to a student performing an internal exam on me when I was unconscious but before the op. They were EXTREMELY grateful when I said yes: I get the impression a lot of people say no, probably because it's a surprise to be asked. Think about it in advance in case it comes up: I felt really good about saying yes because it's so important to allow our future surgeons to train, but I can understand why people may say no if it's a surprise.
Then there was a LONG wait until I actually got to get ready for theatre (we arrived at 11.45 am and I was called into surgery after 3pm). Two big recommendations: have a funny, easy book with you to distract yourself (I chose Bridget Jones' Diary, which was PERFECT), and make sure the person with you has food/drink (my husband was exceedingly hungry but didn't want to leave in case that was when I was called in).
When they were ready for me they walked me through to the operating room, depositing glasses and slippers into the locker as we went. I also got beautiful disposable knickers at this point!
All the team I had met were around me and were calm, caring and compassionate at all times. They hooked me up to the heart monitor and wrapped me in a toasty-warm blanket. An oxygen mask was put over my mouth and I was told to breathe deeply. The anaesthetist gave me painkillers first, then put me under, telling me to focus on good thoughts.
Next thing I knew I was waking up in the recovery room (they do wake you up in the theatre to check you're stable, but you won't remember that). There was a lovely nurse who pretty much stayed with me the whole time (two hours). I was given very strong painkillers and anti-sickness injections. I was told I could have more painkillers but then I'd need to be admitted overnight, so I decided to try and cope without them.
At this point the surgeon came to explain to me the outcome of the op (which was all pretty much good). I knew I wouldn't take it in so I gave consent for her to go and speak with my husband directly, as he also had a list of questions. If you're going to do something similar, make sure the person with you is in the waiting area - they won't do this over the phone.
When I felt ready to move into the recovery lounge they brought a chair through, sat me up and helped clean off any blood they could. I was given fresh hospital clothes and wrapped back up in a dressing gown. In the recovery lounge I was asked to eat and drink to check everything stayed down. I was ravenous! I had brought my own food, which I'd really recommend so you have something you know you'll like (for me dry rice cakes were perfect). I felt EXTREMELY nauseous a couple of times so was given additional medicine for that (although I didn't actually throw up).
My husband was able to come through and join me and it was great to see him again. It was another hour or so before I felt able to get up to go to the loo (you have to do this before they'll let you go), and shortly afterwards I was discharged (they even wheeled me to the taxi rank in a borrowed wheelchair). We were the last ones to leave but never felt rushed.
My story therefore is really one of amazing care at all stages, and I wanted to share this in case anybody is feeling nervous like I was. I do have a few tips too!
- Make sure you have both pants and trousers that are two sizes too big. A few days later and I'm still very tender and swollen! Similarly wear shoes with "give" in them as your feet may swell up (mine did);
- Write out a list of questions for your escort to discuss with the surgeon post-op. Although you'll have the chance to ask questions beforehand, most of mine needed to come afterwards (e.g. Given how extensive the surgery was when she though I could start exercising again);
- Consider bringing your own food for post-op (not anything that needs refrigerated);
- Definitely bring food/drink for your escort!
- Be prepared for long waits and have something with you that you know will distract you, like a good book; and
- Think in advance if you may want the coil and/or if a student can also examine you.
Phew - that's a lot of information! I hope it's helpful to somebody else out there.
Good luck x