Postponed Surgery Due to COVID-19: Making The Most Of Your Extended Surgery-Preparation Period
In the midst of Coronavirus, it’s likely your elective surgery has been canceled or rescheduled. The news of a postponed surgery might feel like a major bummer (and we totally get that)—but there’s also an upside to consider: having your surgery postponed means more time to prepare. Today, then, we’re talking everything you can do to strengthen your body for a seamless surgery experience as you’re holed up at home.
1. Stop stressing about a postponed surgery—the extra time is a major added bonus.
If you find yourself worried or frustrated about a postponed surgery, it’s time to reframe the problem as an opportunity. The whole point of preparing for surgery is to go under anesthesia stronger, avoid complications, have a better overall experience (with a higher success rate), and—most importantly—not have to go back for seconds.
While it’s like not exactly what you’d planned for, a postponed surgery offers up a great opportunity to take even more time preparing your body to be the absolute strongest and healthiest it can be to endure the stress of surgery. More time to prepare means more time to eat right, practice mindfulness techniques, exercise, and drop unhealthy habits (see our post on why it’s imperative you stop smoking before surgery).
2. Exercise plenty.
With gyms and yoga studios across the country closed, it’s time to get creative about your exercise routine as you wait for your new surgery date to arrive. The good news? There’s plenty you can do from the comfort of your own home. Some of our top recommendations include:
- Virtual Classes: Many gyms and yoga studios are offering online classes right now. Try tapping into one of those at least 2 times a week. Follow the social media accounts of your favorite studios and gyms—a good majority are offering either free or heavily discounted virtual classes, which they often announce on Instagram.
- At-Home Equipment: You don’t have to have an entire gym setup at home to get in a good workout. Invest in a solid set of resistance bands, an exercise ball, or a small set of free weights. You can find plenty of free video content online that shows you how to make the most of everything from yoga blocks and bands to bosu balls and free weights.
- Walking Outdoors: As long as you’re walking alone or with a close family member and remember to keep your distance from others you pass, walking outside is one of the healthiest, most accessible exercise options available while we wait out this quarantine. Experts recommend getting in 10,000 steps daily (around 5 miles) if possible. That may sound like a high mark, but it seems to be the magic number to reduce high blood pressure, heart disease, and other ailments that can hinder the success of your surgery.
3. Eat mindfully.
What you put into your body before you go into surgery has everything to do with your recovery after surgery. Imagine running a marathon—you wouldn’t spend the month prior loading up on fast food, fried foods, or foods laced with preservatives and chemicals and then expect to perform your best on the day of. The same goes for your postponed surgery: your body needs a solid nutritional foundation to perform its best under anesthesia. A few things to focus on as your wait for your rescheduled surgery date to roll around include:
- Immunonutrition: Immunonutrition involves activating the body’s immune system through the intake of specific nutrients. Nutrients that fall under the category of immunonutrition are typically those that inhibit inflammation, enhance T-cell function, decrease the body’s inflammatory response, and/or improve immune function. Focus on foods that are rich in glutamine, antioxidants, and omega 3 fatty acids as you work to create an immunonutrition plan for yourself before surgery. Dark, leafy greens, fatty fish, and fresh berries are all great places to start. Check out our post on antiinflammatory foods for more immunonutrition ideas.
- Plant-Based Protein: Plant-based protein is a great way to build strength and increase muscle mass before you go under anesthesia. Plant protein tends to be more easily digestible than animal protein (because it doesn’t contain any lactose or casein). Plus, plant protein is far better for the environment than animal protein (just 1 pound of beef requires between 2,000 and 8,000 gallons of water to produce—whereas 1 pound of plant protein requires around 302 gallons of water to produce). Tofu, lentils, chickpeas, almonds, peanuts, and quinoa are all solid sources of plant protein—and we also love protein options like ClearFast’s CFprotein or Ora Organic’s So Lean & So Clean plant protein powder as quick, easy ways to ensure you’re meeting your daily protein-intake requirements (and getting a whole host of vitamins and minerals in while you’re at it).
- Hydrating & Nourishing with Complex Carbs: Another great way to help your body build a solid nutritional foundation for that postponed surgery? Hydrate and nourish with complex carbs. While low-carb diets may be all the rage right now—they’re not exactly the best option for a healthy surgery recovery, as they can lead to vitamin deficiencies, gut health issues, and electrolyte imbalances. Instead of counting—and limiting—carbs, focus on taking in healthy, nourishing complex carbs and avoiding simple sugars. We love options like legumes, brown or wild rice, whole-wheat breads and pasta, barley, steel-cut oatmeal, and quinoa.
While a postponed surgery likely wasn’t what you had in mind—the Coronavirus pandemic is forcing all of us to slow down, which does have its own benefits. From increasing exercise to eating more mindfully, we recommend taking this forced break to slowly but surely build your body up for a smooth surgery and strong recovery.