Recovering from Surgery? Here’s What You Need to Know.
The bigger the surgery, the bigger the impact.
Outpatient surgery is typically easier to recover from, but that doesn’t mean you can immediately resume your normal routine. Be kind to your recovering body by taking some downtime.
For all types of surgery, doing too much too quickly is a major cause of setbacks. And that’s not what you want in your fragile state.
What can you do to prepare in advance?
It’s smart to buy or prepare some frozen meals that are easy to heat up during your recovery. Since you might not be able to drive right away, be sure you have what you need in the house.
Also, if your bedroom is upstairs and stairs are going to be a problem, set up a nice comfortable resting/sleeping spot that’s easy to get to. After surgery, many people are a bit wobbly on their feet, and the last thing you want is an accidental fall.
Finally, bring a list of questions to your surgery appointment if you’re not sure how much to limit your activities afterward.
What can you do to ease the discomfort when you’re recovering from surgery?
First, read to the post-operation instructions given to you when you were discharged. Might as well benefit from what your doctors know, and what they recommend after your type of surgery.
Stay as still as possible in bed or on the couch. But then don’t wait too long before you gently start moving around, to help avoid bedsores (pressure ulcers), blood clots, and weakening of the muscles. A bit of limited activity can also help digestion, and increase your energy.
If there’s anyone you can enlist in helping with your care, this may be the time to call in some favors.
Take any pain meds earlier rather than later, and stick to a schedule. They work better if they’re on board before the pain has kicked in, rather than after.
Eat, but in small amounts. Consuming too much food at one time can leave you feeling even worse than you already do. Build your energy with protein-rich, high-fiber foods, and be sure to get your Vitamin C, iron and B12. Fish and eggs are great options.
Also remember to stay hydrated – very important.
Distract yourself. A good book or movie can be surprisingly effective in making you forget how lousy you’re feeling when you’re recovering from surgery.
Do prescribed physical or breathing exercises, or attend Physical Therapy, if your doctor recommends it. But never push past what feels comfortable.
Cough and sneeze with care. In fact, brace or hold the surgical site with a hand or a pillow if you feel something like that coming on.
Wash your hands before changing your bandages. And be sure to look at the incision (even if you’d prefer not too), the be sure there’s no redness or pus that might indicate an infection.
Report anything unusual. Some pain, as well as a little bleeding at the surgical site, is normal. But if either don’t let up or get worse, your doctor needs to know.
Chances are, if you take good care of yourself as you’re recovering from surgery, you’ll avoid complications, and soon resume your normal routine … and that groggy, boring recovery period will be just a vaguely unpleasant memory.