by Professor Lynn Basford
It’s never too late to make changes
Our life style may impact on our health and well being generally, but prior to Hysterectomy it can cause you untold misery. Consider the following scenario:
Mabel has suffered from gynaecological issues for some ten years. Her surgeon has decided that she needs an elective Hysterectomy, but has said until she addresses her life style this will have to be delayed. The question arises why does Mabel have to address her life style before surgery? You may think this is unfair, but before you make judgements about her surgeon, just consider the following:
Mabel is 43 years old, has had five full term normal pregnancies and one still birth. She has always been overweight, but now weighs 15stone ( she is only 5’3’’ tall). She is a regular 20 per day smoker, having smoked since she was 15 years old. Her diet is largely made up of carbohydrates and sugar ( chips, pizza, pies, coke, and a glass of wine or two per day) and she is sedentary, rarely going out because of her increasing breathlessness. Her four children are now teenagers, one recently married, three living at home.
Clearly, her life style is contributing to her chronic health situation. Should nothing change before surgery, her life may be in danger whilst during the surgical procedure, her smoke filled lungs could give rise to bacterial infection leading to pneumonia; her recovery and wound healing may be compromised, she is at high risk of thrombosis developing in her legs and she may have increased post operative pain exacerbated due to her lung congestion and coughing.
So what can, and should Mabel do before surgery?
- DIET-undertake a review of her diet with her practice/surgical nurse. The key is to reduce weight ( 1-2lbs per week). Over 28 weeks this would be more than a 2 stone loss!!! If longer time permits prior to surgery she should reach her target weight. NB The Health professional team will not only monitor progress, but assist with nutritional advice and support. For the long term, Mabel, and all her family, would benefit from partaking of a more balanced nutritional regime.
- ALCOHOL– One or two glasses of wine a day is above the recommended alcohol units per week that is recommended by the Department of Health, (no more than 14 units per week, and three units per day). Further, it is suggested that there should be at least two days that are alcohol free. So why cut down on alcohol prior to surgery? Your liver is one of the key detoxification organs of your body. It will need to cope with anaesthetic drugs and gases, the medications and the stress of undergoing surgery. Any damage to the liver cells through alcohol will compromise recovery. In addition, alcohol are empty calories, providing no nutritional benefits.
- SMOKING-undertake a planned smoking cessation programme designed to meet her needs. Once again her professional team would assess not only her physical cravings for smoking , but her emotional and psychological attachment. There are many smoking cessation models on the market that can help to break the addictive behaviour.
- EXERCISE– identify an exercise routine that Mabel feels comfortable with, maybe start with the walking programme leading up to a more sustained effort when weight loss is sustained on a regular basis. Get Mabel to identify a exercise buddy- someone to walk with or take Yoga, or swim etc.NB. in our Hysterectomy section we cover various ways to increase exercise prior to surgery.
Our lifestyle pre surgical model considers D- diet, A- alcohol, S-smoking and E -exercise – DASE. if you are in a DASE because of the need to have an Hysterectomy then go for it!
The lifestyle change model DASE may appear do-able, but there are many layers through which Mabel, and other women like her, have to struggle with emotionally. What needs to be remembered is that there is support, education and advice to be had within the NHS.
YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE ALONE.
Take all the help you need and transform your life for the better and NO LONGER need the DASE PLAN!
Also see the various plans that the Exante Diet Programme offers
Ireland – www.drinkaware.ie
Read the articles listed at the end of our Preparing for Hysterectomy page
Follow Esther’s online yoga classes from your home