Surgery

Top Tips for Recovering From Surgery

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If you’re a bit like me and have a “Frequent Flyers” pass to the hospital, then you are probably well-prepared in your own way for recovering from operations and procedures.  But for those of you who don’t experience this, or are heading into your first operation, I’ve prepared some tips below to help you recover.

I’ve undergone multiple operations, predominantly for my Endometriosis and Interstitial Cystitis, and unfortunately each recovery has been tougher and tougher.  I’ve developed many complications along the way and been signed off for longer periods of time.  But I distinctly remember how I didn’t have a clue about how to recover properly as I went in for my first surgery – I’d never been under anaesthetic before so didn’t know what to expect.

So I have complied a list below full of tips and tricks to give you the heads up with recovering;

  • Before you have the operation – in advance if you can – ask the pre-op team how long you are likely to need of after the operation.  This will help you prepare family, work and friends and even clear that time in preparation for recovery

 

  • The same goes for any post-op restrictions – it’s important to find these out too because you can then make sure you have enough help at home or return to work on appropriate duties

 

  • Two words – Mint Tea.  This little refreshing type of tea will help soothe any trapped gas pain after the operation and make you feel a bit more relaxed

 

  • Make sure you get pain relief when you need it,  and highlight if it’s not working or something has changed to the recovery team.  There have been too many times where I’ve not really been believed with regards how much pain I was in post-op, so if you have to keep repeating yourself or make a bit of a fuss, then do it.  Pain relief if SO important.

 

  • Make sure you have enough pain relief to go home with.  I was accidentally discharged with only a couple of days of one of my painkillers and it was such a faff to get the rest.

 

  • Pack an overnight bag even if you are unlikely to stay overnight.  Why?  Well it’ll make things less stressful if you do end up staying because you won’t have to worry about finding someone to get the bits and pieces you need

 

  • Personally, I always take loose fitting PJs or other clothes with me.  The last thing I want after Endo or bladder surgery is something pressing on my swollen stomach or tight around my down below region!

 

  • Pack some comfortable and warm socks.  It’s a weird thing that NHS hospitals seem to only provide you with one thin blanket, so if you’re like me and get cold easily overnight, then having some lovely cosy socks will help.  You could even go the whole hog and bring your own fluffly blanket – I’ve seen patients do it!

 

  • Make sure you have food and drink that you really want ready for you for when you get home.  Sometimes I find I am really nauseous or sick after surgery, so only have an appetite for certain things

 

  • Have lots of snacks (ideally healthy!) or food that doesn’t involve much cooking so that you can keep your nutrition and energy levels up

 

  • Keep moving – even though you might be sore, swollen and tired, it is important to keep moving by doing little bits such as walking around the house or block or basic circulatory exercises.  This will prevent stiffness, reduce the risk of blood clots and will help energy levels.

 

  • If you need to nap, then nap!  There is no need to feel guilty about having to rest.  Having an operation, even if it is minor, is a big thing to get over.  The mixture of the surgery, anaesthetic and pain relief will make you feel washed out for a while, so catching up on the z’s is important

 

  • If you’re having Endometriosis surgery, you might find using ice is a great way of relieving pain or swelling.  I found this after my last operation in May and it was a lifesaver!

 

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and flush out any toxins, as well as keep your energy levels up a bit.

 

  • Having problems or suffering from a complication?  Then don’t hesitate to contact the hospital team, GP or NHS 111.  After surgery, you don’t want to delay getting help if needed.  I developed an infection in 3 out of 4 of my wounds, and then had to go back to my specialist after my last bladder operation.  Complications and problems do happen, and you should always seek advice if you are concerned.

 

  • And finally, take all the time you need.  Who cares if someone you know got back to work after only a week, and you’re still struggling on week 3?  You are your own person and there is absolutely no point in pushing yourself and making yourself ill.

Got any other tips?  Let me know!

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