For faster recovery post-surgery, prepare yourself and things before you leave the hospital. Then continue recovery at home, as directed.
I was in the hospital for a surgery which turned into more surgeries and complications. I spent 10 days in the hospital from May 15 – June 1, with just a few days at home before ending up in the emergency room. Each time I had directives on my releases, but it gave me an understanding of what my recovery was to be like.
If hooked to an IV after surgery, you’ll have to ask for help to bring the hookup along – to go to the bathroom, to walk, to brush your teeth, etc. Do try to do things by yourself the best you can – do wash your hands, do brush your teeth, do comb your hair. All these are things you can do for yourself for faster recovery.
Ask for a shower or at least a cloth wash when you really can’t stand yourself. You might have request more than once to make sure you get on the schedule.
Before I was released, I had to perform tasks well enough first. I had to get dressed (pants on be crossing my legs over to the other side). I had to walk a distance with a walker. I had to go up and down stairs. I'm sure there were other things but I was able to do it all. I had to prove I could reasonably take care of myself.
Ask about what you are allowed to do in the hospital and carry on at home, post-surgery. If you need to be in one position, or on your back, ask if you can roll over to your side for change. It would also be good for muscles to have some different type movements. Can you do foot pumps, leg lifts, arm stretches? Are you allowed to turn your neck to look to one side or another?
When released, you’ll have post-surgery instructions. You’ll have to make doctor follow-up appointments. You should ask about compression socks – you might need to wear them to prevent blood clotting. Ask how long and how many hours at a time to wear them. My legs did not swell up because I have been wearing them. You may need to strengthen your lungs, using a spirometer. Do you need to wear a brace (your doctor may prescribe a certain type)? Will you need a bone regrowth generator?
Ask about proper use of medications. How long should you take pain relievers? Should you take them on a schedule or as needed? Do you need to sneak up on pain with medicines before pain happens? I was told to take pain meds on a schedule for a few days then wean off – because it’s harder to get pain relief after you feel the pain than to keep up before the pain shows up. Make sure to ask about interactions with other meds or even foods.
Go to your doctor post-surgery, and physical or occupational therapy and any other care plan appointments the doctor sets you up with. Continue to work on your exercises between appointments – and only the ones that are approved by the therapist (don’t decide to do more, as there may a good reason to do some only in the presence of a therapist).
A hospital usually is an assault on your system with anesthesia, medications, hospital food, etc. You are stuck in a bed with gradual movements - so you may be constipated. You might not be discharged until you have a bowel movement (in such case a nurse may insert a suppository).
If you follow instructions and continue to do things on your own after getting guidance from a doctor or therapist, it will speed up your recovery. Don’t stop doing things until the doctor tells you to – like, don’t quit wearing a brace (until told), or don’t quit oxygen supplementation, or avoid certain types of movements. Keep wearing compression and non-slip socks, keep blowing on a spirometer, avoid certain type movements, etc. Any early stopping of such can seriously take you backwards in healing, even making your surgery deemed a failure. It’s your responsibility once you go home from the hospital.
Remember to do things safely – if you need to cross your legs to get dressed, or learn to avoid getting areas wet, or how to be safe in a shower, etc. You might need to hold off taking a pain pill until you are able to do these things safely without being blurred. Heed the advice of you doctors though, as they might want you to take pain meds on a schedule so you can head off pain before it gets too bad. It's harder to get a pain med to get rid of pain if you are already in pain. Make sure of when you are cleared to drive and do not drive before.
Don’t just wait until your next appointment to start or continue your recovery plan. Push through pain if your doctor says it’s ok – it will get you better sooner. Do foot pumps, modified leg lifts, arm strengthening, etc. as allowed by the doctor while in the hospital. Many surgeries won’t let you turn or stretch your neck, for example – be certain of the dos and don’ts before leaving the hospital. Then be very aware to follow the guidelines as told to you. Your recovery will be easier and faster if you do as the guidelines tell you, plus carefully and gently push yourself a bit further as allowed at the right times.
Schedule follow-up appointments as requested and physical therapy when allowed. Keep the recovery process going well past when you left the hospital. Keep moving and keep eating healthy. And – call the surgeon office or doctor office with any questions – do you need more prescriptions for PT, do you have a pain you aren’t sure of? I had a horrific pain in my left groin, after my left leg failed on me three times while walking – it was blood clots forming and very dangerous.