Woohoo! You finally have your bariatric surgery date! You’ve put in the hard work, checked off the boxes, and you’re ready to go! Or are you? There are still a few things to do before heading into the OR, but don’t worry! I have you covered. From FMLA paperwork to preparing for surgery, I listed eight smart steps to take once you have your bariatric surgery date. Take these steps to make your surgery day stress-free. Once you get your bariatric surgery date, you’ll want to make sure you complete some final details before surgery.
The very first thing you’ll want to do after you finish your happy dance from celebrating your bariatric surgery date is submit your FMLA dates to your employer. Hopefully, your employer has some idea that you’re trying to have bariatric surgery and will be expecting you to submit the dates as soon as possible. According to the Department of Labor, The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a law that allows eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave time for family and medical reasons. It allows their company-sponsored health insurance to continue as if they hadn’t taken the leave.
You can get up to 12 weeks FMLA leave in a rolling 12-month period. However, you won’t need 12 weeks. Normally, a patient goes back to work after one to two weeks after bariatric surgery. Your doctor should have given you a time-frame to give your employer. You’ll also want to check with your employer to get the necessary paperwork for your leave of absence. Oftentimes this includes papers that need completing by your bariatric surgeon’s office. Get these as soon as possible, so that you have plenty of time to get them completed before your surgery.
Final Medical Testing
Many times before surgery, you’re going to need a final set of labs and an EKG. The blood work will most likely include a complete blood count (CBC), a liver-function panel and possibly a pregnancy test. They want to make sure all of your levels are at an appropriate level before surgery. This way, if there are any issues, you can address them before the day of surgery.
The EKG, or electrocardiogram, is a simple test. They put some patches on your chest and abdomen and measure the electrical activity of the heartbeat. The test is painless, and it takes longer to put the electrodes on your chest and take them off than for the actual test. They want to make sure there are no final issues with your heart before surgery.
You can often get both of these tests done as a walk-in appointment but check with your particular hospital for details. Since each place is different, I can’t necessarily tell you for sure what their policies are, so it’s always better to call and ask. Arrange to have these done before you start your liver-reducing diet (LRD) to make sure nothing from the LRD complicates things further.
You might also need a final physical and referral from your primary care doctor, so call to schedule that appointment right away. It can sometimes be hard to get into a doctor’s schedule at last minute, and you want to make sure you get the appointment before your bariatric surgery date.
Another item to do before your bariatric surgery date is arrange transportation. You’re going to want someone to take you to the hospital on the day of surgery, as you’ll be full of nerves and excitement. You also won’t be able to drive home yourself, so you’ll need to arrange transportation for then. It doesn’t make sense to drive your car to the hospital if you can’t drive it home. Ask a significant other, your parents, siblings or friends to take you. You’ll want someone to wait through the surgery until you’re done, so if there are any complications, someone can know your status.
You could also check with a local church if you’re having trouble locating transportation. I know people are busy and have to work, so check if a local church has someone who can provide transportation and wait for you. You’ll want to figure these details out before surgery so that you’ll have no stress the day of your operation.
Prepare for LRD
The liver-reducing diet, or LRD, is a component of most bariatric programs. There is no standardization in the bariatric community, so each hospital and surgeon have different requirements. Make sure you follow your doctor’s program precisely. If he/she tells you to drink four protein shakes a day while standing on one leg, you do it. In all seriousness though, do not waive from the program laid out by your doctor. He/she designed it for a reason.
My LRD lasted 10 days, consisted of four protein shakes a day and up to a cup of vegetables from an approved list. I could also drink unlimited clear liquids. I bought the protein powder my doctor required at my doctor’s office. Also, I also bought only the vegetables on the list and made vegetable soup from it. Buy the necessary ingredients you’ll need and make a plan. Write down what you’re eating or drinking and when. This will help you so much, especially if you are working during your LRD as I did.
The LRD is tough – there’s no doubt about it. It’s one of the hardest parts of surgery. The first few days are extremely hard, as your body detoxes from the processed foods and sugar. However, it gets a little bit easier each day. Stick with it! If I can do it, so can you!
Prepare for Post-Op Diet
Most likely when you come home from the hospital, you’ll be on a clear-liquid or full-liquid diet for a few days to a few weeks. Again, follow your doctor’s advice on what you can and can’t eat during this time. For suggestions on what to eat during these phases, check out my posts with recipes on the clear-liquid diet and full-liquid diet.
The day or two before your bariatric surgery date, you’ll want to prepare some sugar-free Jello and sugar-free pudding in individual cups (about two ounces each). This way, once you come home from the hospital, you’ll have food prepared and ready to consume. Believe me, you won’t want to stand at a stove cooking Jello while you’re recovering from surgery. Prepare ahead of time and be ready for when you get home.
Also make sure you have some protein shakes ready at home. Bariatric Advantage has some really good tasting protein powder. In fact, they’re the only ones I could tolerate after surgery. I really like the vanilla to add different flavors to and the iced latte flavor.
Take Pre-Op Measurements
Trust me on this one. As you progress in your bariatric journey, there are going to be times when it’s hard for you to see the difference in the mirror. You’re going to want to take your measurements before your bariatric surgery date, so you can compare them later down the road. I took measurements of my neck, upper arm, bust, waist, hips, thighs and calves. I wish I would have also done my forearms, wrist and ankles. Retake the measurements every four weeks to track your progress. Believe me, it keeps you motivated!
You’ll also want to take pre-op pictures. Keep the same outfit and take front, side and back pictures every four weeks. If you’re really brave, take them in a bathing suit or your underwear and bra. You’ll want a baseline picture to compare. Again, trust me on this one. You’re going to want to see the difference, particularly as your body changes and it’s hard for you to see the change. It takes our minds a little while to catch up, and doing comparison pictures helps with that process.
Pack Your Hospital Bag
You honestly won’t need much at the hospital. A few things to remember to pack before your bariatric surgery date are:
- A change of clothing
- A favorite pillow to sleep and to hold over your incisions for the ride home
- Personal care items
- CPAP, if you use one
- A copy of your license and insurance card
- Cell phone charger
Over at Veterans Wife, Bariatric Life, they have a really good list of what items you’ll need at the hospital. Check it out! Cheryl lists a lot of good items that most people would forget to bring.
Get Support Before Your Bariatric Surgery Date
Perhaps your most important step before your bariatric surgery date is to get support. I’m not kidding when I write that bariatric surgery is more mental than physical. Sure, it may not seem that way in the first few weeks after surgery, but so much of our struggles don’t come from physical issues. They come from mental ones. For this reason, you must get support for your post-op bariatric lifestyle.
There are several ways you can gather support for yourself. From attending support groups hosted by your hospital for bariatric patients to finding support online in social media. Facebook has a lot of really fabulous support groups for bariatric surgery. There’s always an abundance of Instagram accounts to follow too for support and motivation.
You could also check out groups like Overeaters Anonymous or ones specifically for emotional eating. Try finding some Meet Up groups for either weight loss, bariatric lifestyle, healthy living or exercise. Enlist your family and friends to be your support when you need it. Believe me – you’ll need it!
Also make sure you have a caretaker for a few days when you get home from the hospital. You shouldn’t need too much help, but I know I struggled with bending over in the first few days after surgery. Having this support will help you so much.
Hooray for Your Bariatric Surgery Date!
Getting your bariatric surgery date is an exciting time! Your new life is about to begin, and you’ve been working towards this day for so long. Once you get your bariatric surgery date, you’ll want to make sure you complete some final details before surgery. Immediately submit your FMLA dates to work and fill out any necessary paperwork. Arrange for your final blood tests and EKG, as well as a physical from your family doctor. Secure transportation to and from the hospital. Make sure you have all the food you’ll need for your LRD and post-op diet. Prepare some Jello and pudding in advanced too. make sure you pack the right things in your hospital bag and take pre-op measurements. Finally, find support. Post in the Stop Weighting, Start Doing Facebook page, so we can celebrate and encourage you. Congrats on making it this far! Your new life is now starting!
If this article gave you some great ideas to incorporate into your life, just imagine what other amazing strategies I have for you! Share this post on social media by clicking one of the sharing buttons, and don’t forget to join my email list! You’ll be the first to get updates, access to my new products and lots of tips, inspiration and motivation to help in your bariatric surgery journey. Just for joining, I’ll send you a free weight loss coloring chart, as well as some other pretty awesome goodies to keep you motivated. Join today!
1. Celebrate! Your hard work paid off!
2. Submit your FMLA dates to your employer and get any required paperwork submitted.
3. Get any final medical testing, including blood work and EKG.
4. Arrange for transportation to and from the hospital.
5. Prepare for the LRD by getting the foods and drinks you’ll need.
6. Prepare for the clear-liquid and full-liquid diets after surgery.
7. Take pre-op measurements, weight and photos.
8. Pack your hospital bag.
9. Get support.