Welcome to our “After the Surgery” blog series! When it comes time for surgery – regardless of what type it may be – patients, along with their family and/or other caregivers, have a lot of information to take in and absorb. Many times the surgeries are planned, and other times they’re performed on an emergent basis. Regardless of the need or timeline, there’s one thing they ALL have in common – post-operative questions and concerns. Before discharge, the nurses and doctors work together to provide care that’s as coordinated and seamless as possible – your job is to get better and, while you’re their patient, their job is to help make that happen.
Before your discharge you’ll be visited by physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers (who assist in discharge planning) and, depending upon your specific needs, potentially some other allied health professionals as well. You – and your caregivers – will be given a whole host of information, ranging from wound care and dressing changes to when and with whom you should be making follow-up appointments. Now, just like every person is different, every surgery is, too. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some basic truths that nearly always hold true, no matter what. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you transition into your recovery:
- Bowel care. Anyone who’s ever dealt with post-surgical constipation will tell you this is a BIG DEAL. Narcotic pain medication – coupled with the relative levels of inactivity that most patients have during those first several days after surgery – can slow everything down. Sometimes to a halt. And, because you’ll be busy recuperating, bowel movements probably won’t be in the forefront of your mind. So, talk with your doctors and nurses about the medications you’re being sent home with and if adding a stool softener is something they’d recommend. Also…hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
- Medication instructions. If you have ANY new medications added to your routine (painkillers, blood thinners, etc.) make sure you and your caregivers understand how and when to take them. Also, make sure to ask if there’s anything you shouldn’t be eating or drinking while adopting these medications (some fruits and vegetables can interact with certain medicines).
- To heal, your body needs to be able to rest. You may very well discover that you tire more quickly in the days and weeks following your surgery – that’s your body’s way of telling you to stop and rest. That may mean taking extra naps during the day, and it certainly means that you’re getting a good amount of sleep each and every night.
Here at Prairie Orthopaedic, we want to make sure that you’re taken care of right…right from the start! Make sure to check back soon for parts 2 and 3 of the series – we’ll discuss both physical therapy and occupational therapy and look at the importance of each in your post-surgical recovery journey.