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On the day

On the day of your operation there are things you need to do including stopping eating for a few hours, the nurse will do some checks and your anaesthetist will give you an anaesthetic. 

What to take with you

Take in:

  • nightgowns or pyjamas
  • underwear
  • dressing gown
  • slippers
  • contact lenses, solution, glasses and a case
  • wash bag with soap, a flannel or sponge, toothbrush and toothpaste
  • sanitary wear or tampons
  • razor
  • towel
  • small amount of money
  • medicines you normally take
  • magazines, books, playing cards
  • headphones and music to listen to
  • a tablet or smartphone for web browsing, entertainment and phone calls

On the day

Your nurse will check your blood pressure, pulse and breathing rate.

On the day of the operation you:

  • stop eating for about 6 hours beforehand, but can still drink clear fluids up to 2 hours beforehand
  • change into a hospital gown
  • take off jewellery (except for a wedding ring)
  • take off make up, including nail varnish
  • remove contact lenses and false teeth

You can usually keep your false teeth in until you get to the anaesthetic room.

For some types of surgery, you’ll need to shave the skin over the operation area. Or your nurse can shave it for you. They might do this when you’re under anaesthetic in the operating room.

Your nurse might give you a tablet or an injection to help you relax. This will be an hour or so before you go to the operating theatre. This makes your mouth feel dry. But you can rinse your mouth with water to keep it moist. Your nurse takes you to theatre on a trolley if you have this.

You can walk down to theatre if you don’t have any medicine to relax you.

Having an anaesthetic

You have an anaesthetic so that you won’t feel anything during the operation. Your ward nurse and aporter take you to the anaesthetic room, next to the operating theatre.

All the doctors and nurses wear theatre gowns, hats and masks. This reduces your chance of getting an infection.

The anaesthetist puts a small tube (cannula) into a vein in your arm. You have any fluids and medicines you need through the cannula including the general anaesthetic. This sends you into a deep sleep. When you wake up, the operation will be over.

Before you go to sleep your anaesthetist might put a small tube in the space around your spine. They can attach a pump to this tube to give you pain medicines. This is for after your operation to help control your pain.

Time in hospital

Most people are in hospital for between 10 and 14 days if you have all or part of your stomach removed. The length of your stay depends on the type of operation you have and your recovery.

Family and friends

Your family or friends can go in with you to help you settle in. You’ll need to check the time of your operation and when the visiting times are.

The time it takes to do the operation depends on the type of surgery you have. Most operations take a few hours. The nurse will give you numbers for your family or friends to phone to find out how you are.

Information and help

Dangoor sponsorship

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.