Understanding the medical terms

Going into hospital for major surgery is confronting for most people. It can make anyone nervous. There is a lot to think about: there’s the surgery, the recovery, being away from home and being away from your daily routine and everything that is familiar to you. Being fuzzy about some of the details of what is going to happen will compound the stress and nerves.

Make sure you have a clear understanding of the medical terms that have been used in the meetings with your surgeon leading up to your hospital admission. Simple enough?

It’s not quite as simple when you are sitting across the desk from the Surgeon, they are rolling off medical terms and before you know it, you are booked in for surgery. Meeting with the surgeon can be intimidating for many people. Surgeons are just people too, they are very clever, caring and good communicators and if you sit quietly opposite them nodding nervously in agreement, they may assume you understand what they are saying.

If you think you can just look it all up later on the internet - think again. Now is the time to ask questions because a qualified surgeon is the only person who can give you answers relevant to your medical condition.

Learn to stop the conversation when you hear something you are unfamiliar with and ask them to explain what they have said. If a medical name is complicated, ask your surgeon to write it down or spell it for you, even ask them to draw a rough picture, take the plastic anatomy model off their bookcase, point at the anatomy poster - whatever it is you need them to do until you understand what it is they are saying to you. They won’t mind, in fact will be probably relieved that you asked and you will feel much better knowing exactly what is happening and why. 

We’ve compiled a list of questions you may like to ask while you are meeting with your surgeon. The questions will help to ensure you get the information you need out of the short amount of time you may have in your appointment. 

A second set of ears at these appointments can be invaluable as over time you may become overwhelmed with information and it can become confusing. Take along a partner, relative, carer or friend so that they can also listen to the information and prompt you to ask questions.