The time leading up to surgery can be stressful and downright scary.
In fact, there are moments when it’s hard to think of anything else. Amidst all of that angst, it’s easy to forget to plan for your surgery recovery. Here are eight tips to help get you back on your feet as quickly as possible.
- Listen to your doctor. This may seem like basic advice, but so often we think we know better. If your doctor instructs you to ice your incision three times a day, then ice three times a day. If your doctor says to take it easy for a week, don’t start walking a mile a day just because you’re feeling better. Keep your follow up appointments even if you feel great, and take medication exactly as prescribed.
- Make sure to eat enough and stay hydrated. Skipping your Zumba class is no excuse for skipping meals. Your body needs proper nutrition to do the hard work of healing. Eat your whole grains, leans proteins, fruits and vegetables. Stay away from sugary and processed foods.
- Get moving. Again, we’re not talking about Zumba here; we’re talking about some light physical activity such as getting up every couple of hours and taking a stroll down the hall. This simple measure can prevent serious conditions like deep vein thrombosis and pneumonia. It can also help with constipation, which is a common side effect of surgery.
- Pain control. The opioid epidemic has left a lot of us concerned about the possibility of developing an addiction to painkillers. So we white-knuckle it and try to take as little pain medication as possible. But being in pain isn’t good for the healing process, especially if the pain affects your quality of sleep. If you have a history of addiction, talk to your doctor about possible alternatives and solutions before you have surgery.
- Look for signs of infection. Actually, let’s back up a step. You should make sure to always wash your hands before touching your incision. Of course, infection can still develop. Look for warning signs such as redness, pain, fever or burning. Call your doctor immediately and, if you can’t reach him or her, head to the emergency room.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking can slow the healing process. As we all know, this step is easier said than done. If possible, put this on your list of goals to achieve prior to surgery.
- Make sure you have the supplies and equipment you need. This list will vary depending on your surgery, of course, but could include such items as a hospital bed, walker, raised toilet seat, tub chair, reacher and ice packs.
- Take it easy. If you feel like limiting visitors and resting, do it. Have your spouse pick some books up at the library for you. Order Netflix for the month and binge watch “The Crown” or old episodes of “Cheers.” This is your time to heal—not to be hard on yourself. Even if you don’t feel like it, laying low helps to reduce your risk of complications after your procedure. As you feel your stamina improve, slowly increase your activity level. You don’t want to do anything that will set you back!
Sometimes surgeries are sprung on us, and other times we know they’re coming months ahead. Recovering from surgery is a process in itself that’s often not thought of much prior to the procedure, but is very important to healing. If you’ve been delaying a procedure that you know is needed and will improve your quality of life, learn more about the surgical services available at Fisher-Titus so you can have an informed conversation with your healthcare provider.