Your surgery is over, and you’re on your way home. You’ve been given a list of things to do for aftercare, but how could you forget?
It’s the most important thing! But as it turns out, many patients leave their doctors’ offices with little more than the post-op instructions in mind. To help make sure that doesn’t happen to you, here are six essential things to remember after getting surgery.
1. Get plenty of rest
You may feel like you can’t sleep for the life of you, but your body needs it. Try not to schedule any work or driving in the days following surgery and do everything possible to get a minimum of six hours per night. It’s essential to get enough rest because your body needs the rest to heal.
2. Eat right
Right after surgery, eating some high-fiber foods like fruit and vegetables will help speed up recovery time while maintaining good nutrition (and also aiding digestion). For those who have had general anesthesia (in which medicines are given through an IV), try having broth before solid food.
3. Drink lots of fluids
Even if you’re feeling nauseous, drink as much water, juice, and other clear liquids as possible–the more fluid that goes through our bodies after an operation, the less risk there is for issues such as pneumonia or blood clots. Limit caffeinated beverages because they will dehydrate your system further; stick with decaf coffee, tea, and water (both iced AND hot). If nothing else works when nausea strikes for a day or more, try ginger ale.
4. Don’t skip your medication!
Post-op meds like painkillers and antibiotics need to be taken as instructed, or the consequences can potentially be devastating, from a postoperative infection to organ rejection. In other words: Don’t take any chances with this one, folks! Taking them will reduce swelling and bruising, allow you to sleep better, and make things more comfortable when you start moving around again. You may be asked not to take aspirin or ibuprofen with these medications because they can interfere with their effectiveness, so it’s vital that you don’t mix them.
5. Limit strenuous activity for at least two weeks after surgery
This includes lifting heavy objects, exercising (especially anything that involves twisting), coughing or sneezing too hard, bending down low, walking up hills, etcetera. You don’t want to do anything that could cause your incision, stitches or bard catheter harm if you have just had major abdominal surgery. If in doubt about what’s okay and not okay during recovery, ask your doctor.
6. Avoid crowds and people with colds or other illnesses
Of course, you want to avoid getting sick right now more than ever, given that you’re not up to fighting it off like usual, and if someone coughs near you or sneezes on a surface where you handle food, wash your hands immediately! Keep in mind: It’s also essential that children who are recovering from an operation stay away from school until they can follow all the post-op instructions without any problems whatsoever (remember kids, this includes no gym class!).