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What to Do If You Just Had a Surgery?

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Surgeries & Procedures

These past 2 months I’ve had a number of people ask me about what to do after a surgery so I’ve decided to post a blog to help others who might have similar questions that they asked.

Before I start, though, let me be clear that I am going to discuss uncomplicated surgeries like, appendectomy, excision, incision and drainage, mastectomy, biopsy, endoscopy and the like, but not limited to these. If you’re asking if a cesarean section is considered uncomplicated, the answer is – it depends. Childbirth in itself, no matter how painful the mechanism is, is considered a normal process. A good question though, is what the reason was for a cesarean procedure and how the delivery process took place, and then we can decide whether it is an uncomplicated or a complicated one. I will talk more about labor and delivery in a separate post in the future.

Now back to surgery – first of all, it will be the safest to ask your doctor if there is any ongoing or possible complication on your case. Some of the most common complications to consider include: site or wound infection, fever, embolism (lodging of a blood clot, air bubble or foreign material in the bloodstream) or worse collapsed lungs, and many others.

If it’s been determined that you have a complicated case, then the principles I will discuss may or may not not be appropriate for you.

What to Expect After Surgery:

First 24 Hours

Pain
The first 24 hours will depend on your tolerance to pain. Normally, people just sleep over this stage for the most part, but some people experience the pain sooner than expected. No worries though because you will be given pre-scheduled pain relievers during this period.

Diet
A “nothing by mouth” policy is strictly implemented to avoid sucking of food into the airway, and to wait for the digestive function to return to normal.

Activity
You will be placed flat on bed during the first few hours after surgery, and then will be turned from side to side with help after a few hours to promote blood circulation.

After 24 Hours

Pain
Here is usually the difficult part because the effects of anesthesia will begin to wear off; so be ready for moderate to severe pain. Again, pain sensation differs from person to person depending on an individual’s tolerance and threshold. Pain relievers are still on regular schedule. Your nurse or healthcare provider will be your best friend during this time.

Diet
Your diet regimen will start slowly from sips of water, liquid diet, soft diet before you return to full diet. You may find it weird whenever your nurse or healthcare provider asks you “Have you farted yet?” Surprisingly, your precious gas determines how soon your diet plan will return back to normal. Reason is, this signals the return of your bowel function.

Activity
READ THIS CAREFULLY. Contrary to common myths that you have to stay longer in bed to prevent your stitches to tear off; you actually need to ambulate early because it promotes blood circulation, and therefore, speeds up healing. But mind you, you cannot do this in haste or you might experience what is called spinal headache, dizziness or vomiting.

Ambulate by moving your arms and legs and then when you’re comfortable with it, move from side to side. After a while, add more pillows to your head to raise it up, and then move to the side of your bed to sit up and dangle your legs. Finally, try a few steps to your side chair and then your first trip to the bathroom. When you are able to do this without any symptoms of headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, then you are good to go.

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Early ambulation speeds up your healing.

Discharge Plan:

Medication
Be sure to follow your prescription up to the last dose especially your antibiotics because this will prevent infection. Pain relievers may now be taken as needed, meaning when in moderate to severe pain, take it. If it’s tolerable, you may just need a distraction.

Diet
Diet is usually as tolerated, but I suggest you take more proteins because this is important for body and organ repair and recovery. Have more fruits and vegetables too for additional boost on your immune system, plus it eases up your bowel movement. You may also take your nutritional supplements to feed your cells.

Activity
Just like your diet, activity needs to be slowed down. You can return to your activities of daily living like bathing and grooming, office working, and non-straining house chores like cooking and washing light dishes. Avoid heavy tasks like doing the laundry or lifting heavy objects like your big pans and pots; have someone do it for you.

Special Note on Fever after Surgery

Rule of Thumb: Fever within 24 hours is usually normal; it’s your body telling you it is adjusting to the trauma after the surgery. If the fever shows up after 24 hours, you have to inform your doctor because it might be a sign of an infection setting in.

We’ve covered the most part and if you make it to the second week without any problem, then you are on your way towards full recovery.

Signs of Complication:
Watch out for the following and report it immediately to your doctor or healthcare provider:

1. Fever after 24 hours.
2. Increasing pain around the surgical area.
3. Swelling that does not subside.
4. Red discoloration around the surgical site.
5. Surgical site warm to the touch.
6. Presence of discharges around the surgical site.

Media Credits:
Surgery & Procedures: http://www.estermaneye.com/services/surgery-procedures/
WebMD: http://www.webmd.com