What happens when moving well becomes a problem? Surgery can halt you in your tracks and put a bit of a spanner in your plans for healthy living.
For people living with diabetes, going into surgery can present a few extra challenges. It’s important to be mindful of all the factors to consider, particularly when it comes to anaesthetic.
Managing your diabetes well before, during and after surgery can help prevent complications such as infections and delayed wound healing. The stress and anxiety associated with surgery, not to mention the disrupted routines during a hospital stay, can play havoc with blood glucose levels.
Before you go into hospital
Before you go into hospital make an appointment to see your GP or diabetes specialist, so they can help you to manage your glucose levels as much as possible leading up to your surgery. Discuss with them what the surgery means for you and what adjustments need to be made to your medications and insulin dose, as well as what your target ranges should be.
Review your sick-day management plan with them so that you know what to do when you are discharged from hospital. It is also likely they will ask you to test your blood glucose levels more often in the lead-up to hospital – do so and keep a record.
When you arrive
It is important that you tell all the hospital staff involved, including doctors, surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses, that you have diabetes and how you typically manage it, particularly if you have type 1. Let them know about any other medical conditions you may have and all medications you are taking – including herbal preparations.
It is also important to tell the doctor or surgeon if you have had a recent hypo and how it was treated. Take your blood glucose meter, testing equipment, diabetes medication and insulin into hospital with you. Make sure you have your hypo kit on hand too if you have one.
Before you go home
Before you leave the hospital make sure you understand all of the instructions that your doctor or surgeon has given you. Ask someone to collect you rather than drive home yourself.
You may need to test your blood glucose levels more often in the days after your surgery – stress, pain and medication changes can cause high blood glucose levels, but you must also be aware of hypos as they can still occur.
Resume your diabetes medication and insulin, if you need it, as your doctor has told you. Be aware that your insulin doses may have been adjusted while you were in hospital due to the surgery and your doses will probably need to be reviewed a number of times in the weeks following surgery as your health improves and your blood glucose levels settle.
Most importantly, make sure you rest. Rest makes for a speedier recovery and you’ll be back to moving well in no time.
Things to pack for your hospital stay:
All your current medications – in their original packaging if possible. (The label on the box/bottle will have information about the medication name, dose and timing etc)
Insulin pens and pen needles
Blood glucose meter
Glucose testing strips
Lancet device and extra lancets
BGL diary or record book
Hypo kit – such as jelly beans or glucose tablets/gel/drink
Spare snack items – such as crackers or muesli bar
Ketone testing meter and strips (type 1 diabetes)