So You Need Surgery – Preparing Family and Friends

First you’ve gotten your head around the fact that you need surgery, and what that entails. Then you’ve figured out what you need and want in order to get through it all. Now it’s time to tell others.


Your family is going to be worried. Whether they show it or not, it is hard not to worry when a loved one is going into the hospital.

All of my life my mother was my rock, nothing seemed to faze her. Even when I would have a total meltdown and cry because I couldn’t face another surgery, she would put her arm around me and tell me that I could do it and that I’d be fine. I had no idea what that cost her until I had to have my hips replaced.

I came home all excited that they were going to squeeze me in right away (6 months) and that they figured this would eliminate most of my pain. My mother burst into tears and didn’t stop crying for 2 days. She just couldn’t pretend anymore. So now it was me saying it was going to be okay and that I’d be fine. After 40 years, the tables had turned.

If your family hasn’t had to deal with this before, the unknown will be as scary for them as it was for you, so be prepared.


Friends will worry too, but most of mine seem to take it more in stride. I tell the close ones first, the ones I might need to get through it all. The acquaintances and drama queens come last, if at all. Other than a couple of friends who are like sisters, I always have my spiel ready. I need to approach them in a positive and confident way and be sure to fend off unwelcome advice.

Set Boundaries and Ask for Help

Before I talk to anyone, I know my terms. I figure out what I want. But I still reserve the right to change my mind. I know the details of the surgery, my plans and how they can help.

I always tell everyone that I don’t want any visitors until I am ready, but that I would love for them to call when they have time.

I already know this about myself due to experience. I know that when I feel bad, the last thing I want to do is make small talk with someone who doesn’t know what to say. And who does? What do you say to someone in the hospital after “how are you feeling”? My mother used to love it when people would come 2 at a time and they would chat while she dozed. She could hear their happy chatter in the back of her mind and it brought her comfort. I could never do that; I felt obligated to participate. So it is probably the only time in my life when I would rather talk on the phone.

I always ask people not to surprise me when I am not well. sometimes preparing for company is exhausting, so surprise visits are not welcome. So I ask my friends to call me, and to be available if I need to call them. I would ask a close friend if she could come by if I called her and told her I was lonely. and she said sure, and told me what times were good for her.

Never Lie

If you want your family and friends to be there for you, never lie. Don’t say you are fine when you are not. Don’t expect them to read your mind and bully their way in. Call them when you need to, when you are lonely or down or need something from the store. They will be happy to help if they know how and they know when, but nobody likes to guess.

Be Independent

Do some things on your own. People are happy to help you, but you can’t be needy all of the time. Order some of your groceries online. Join a virtual support group. Read a book. Do what you can, so that when you need your friends, they are not tired already.


Read the previous post in this series: So You Need Surgery – Preparing Your Home