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.
Before getting surgery, or recovering from an accident, or to keep things from degrading, just keep eating well and staying active as much as possible, following instructions as to timing.
Before surgery, make meals to put in the freezer so you can just pull out as needed when you come back. If you eat organic or can’t eat spicy, have allergies, etc. – let people know if they offer to bring you dinners – it’s a shame if you can’t eat something someone prepares for you. Build up your immune system – exercise, eat healthy and avoid sugars to prevent inflammation.
Find out everything you can about the surgery – what to prepare for, how to set up your home when you come back (shower aids, walker, brace, oxygen, etc.), the potential risks, and surgeon recommendations for what you should do – maybe stop certain medications or supplements or foods.
You might be directed to use surgical wipes or nasal ointment or other directives for some days prior to surgery. Just do as you are told – it’s for your own good.
Pack a bag with things to do, perhaps a change of clothes and underwear for some days (you may or may not be allowed to wear underwear during your stay in the hospital). Bring cards, books, a Bible, puzzles (sudoku, crossword, etc. – and a pen!), to-do list you've been meaning to update., and whatever you can think of to stay occupied and work your brain (the meds might keep you fuzzy headed but try to use your brain so you can stay on top of things). Keep it all in a bag and take out things as you need.
Do not take anything of value - no laptop, no jewelry, no money or credit cards, or anything you can't afford to lose (pay up front check in fee then have your drop off person take it back home for you). I was nervous about my smartphone but the staff made sure it was never lost and I had a room to myself (it was during COVID, so doubling up wasn't being done for most rooms).
Check in at your assigned time at the hospital. Pray or calm yourself in the ways you know how – being stressed isn’t good – if your blood pressure too high or too low, they might not be able to operate until you are stabilized.
Make sure to drink a lot of water so the nurses can find your veins – for blood draws and IVs. I am healing from being poked in the inner elbow too many times. The swab just stung badly so the next nurses found other areas to poke me for blood. Every bit of water that I drank just came out of me – I didn’t retain any of it, so my veins weren’t well plumped. If I could have put a lemon or some salt in my water for electrolytes, I should have been able to retain it. Surgery and procedure days cut me off from food and drink at midnight – so my veins didn’t have good blood flow,
If hooked to an IV 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 things you can do for yourself speed up 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.
Ask about what you are allowed to do in the hospital and carry on at home. If being in one position, 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-op 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.
Go to doctor post-op, physical or occupational therapy, x-ray, follow-up appointments, and any other care plan appointments the doctor sets you up with. Continue to work on your exercises between appointments – 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 gut – anesthesia, medications, hospital food, etc. Because you are not moving – bowel movement might be delayed – so get active as soon as you can so movement help you go. Eat fruits and vegetables – also dried fruits. Eat probiotics to fortify your gut. You might need to take a stool softener or even a suppository.
If you follow instructions and continue to do things on your own after getting guidance from 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, don’t quit oxygen supplementation, keep wearing non-slip and compression 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.
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. 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 push yourself a bit further.
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.