The most common question that people have before they undergo the Nuss Procedure is “Any tips?”
Of course, each person is different when it comes to the Nuss Procedure. Some people need 1 bar. Others need 4. Some people are young and flexible. Others are old and stiff. Keep this in mind as you think through what your upcoming experience will be like. Nonetheless, I think there are some common tips that apply to everyone:
- Stay Positive – A Nuss Procedure is an investment. You have to pay it forward. You’ve had a tough time living with Pectus and the hardest is about to come (surgery). However, pay your dues now and it will reap many benefits! There will definitely be times when you have negative thoughts about your situation, especially after surgery. Becoming temporarily disabled will be a rude awakening. But don’t forget that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and you will heal, recover, and hopefully get back to your normal self (or even a better self!) soon. Don’t stop fighting.
- Be prepared and knowledgeable – Know what is going to happen. Have an agenda of surgery day and be prepared for what the steps are. You have enough to worry about that day and you don’t want to walk into the hospital blinded. Know what the procedure is exactly, and have a thorough understanding of what your surgeon will do in the operating room. This is very important so that you have an expectation of what to look for after surgery (cosmetically speaking). Additionally, this will set you up to keep an eye out for things that don’t seem right.
- Do things you enjoy before surgery – After surgery, you’ll wake up and pretty much feel like you got hit by a semi. (Well, some young patients have very little discomfort). Nonetheless, you won’t be able to do some of the things you are used to after surgery. Heck, taking a shower will even be worse than what your least favorite chore used to be. So before surgery, take a chance to go for a run, or do something physical that you enjoy. After surgery, you’ll have to wait a while before you can get back into the swing of things. Sneezing, coughing, physical exertion, sleeping on your side, etc – These are things that commonly are no longer possible soon after surgery.
- Know the right questions to ask – During recovery, keep an eye on your body and the way you’re feeling. Have someone there to help you with this, to ask how you’re doing, etc. Be aware of the common complications that come with the Nuss Procedure, and know the right questions to ask if you think something is just not right. This requires you to study up and have a complete understanding of the procedure and the recovery.
- Don’t focus on comfort – This is the most difficult piece of advice to give, because it’s almost evil. However, it again goes back to the investment concept. Focusing on comfort will be lovely in the short term but horrendous in the long term. That is, there are many complications that can result if you simply lay down all day after surgery for 2 weeks and pop pills. The best way to avoid complications, the best way to expedite recovery, and the best way to feel normal again is to get moving as quickly as possible. Start with small things. Sit up while eating in bed in the days after surgery. Stand up out of the bed and walk, even if just 10 steps. Tomorrow, make it 15 steps. Set goals that push you and have someone there to push you. Pain management is obviously incredibly important, but don’t expect to be completely pain-free or comfortable. You have to undergo some pain to make substantial gain!
If anything, I think number 1 and number 5 are the most important!
Happy to answer any other questions.