I feel like I am particularly well-suited to writing this article because it wasn’t that long ago that I was operated on. How it happened was my gallbladder straight up and decided to whip my ass, just randomly one night, the pain was so intense that I legitimately thought I was going to die. Maybe that’s a touch on the dramatic side but my life flashed before my eyes on the way to the emergency room. As it turns out, I ended up being the last female in my family (because I am the youngest) to have her gallbladder decide to ninja-punch her into next Tuesday. So, based on some very recent memories, this is what I learnt about recovering from surgery.
- Rest, Then Rest Some More
The time you will take to recover will obviously depend on the type of surgery you have. My full recovery took around 2 months but the more immediate recovery (the time it took for me to get up without any pain) took around 3 weeks. I spent 2 weeks booked off work and slept whenever I needed to. Granted a lot of that sleep was probably pain-killer induced, but it helped me nonetheless.
- Don’t Try Exercise Too Soon
So many people want to wake up from their surgery and resume their normal life schedules instantly, including their gym schedules. This is a terrible idea. Wait until you are 100% ready to lift weights or run. If you want to exercise, because exercise is good, then go for short walks and slowly build up your fitness level that way. Walking promotes blood flow of oxygen throughout your body and stimulates circulation, which can help stop the development of stroke-causing blood clots. By improving the blood flow in your body, it will help your wound heal faster.
- Don’t Push Yourself
The single most important thing I learnt, was not to push myself. I don’t just mean with housework or cleaning or seeing to the kids, I mean even with the small things. I tried to live my normal life the day after being discharged from the hospital and bent down to pick something up. Bending down after surgery is not at all recommended. You need to focus on your healing and not everything else that you would normally do in a day.
- Follow Instructions
When you get discharged from the hospital after your surgery, your doctor will give you a list of things you should and shouldn’t do – once again this will largely depend on what type of surgery you have. You need to follow these instructions, particularly if you are advised to wear easy on compression socks. Compression socks are a necessary part of your healing and will help prevent blood clots from forming after your surgery. These are surprisingly comfortable – I wore mine for 2 weeks longer than I was advised to, purely because I felt like they benefited my overall health and wellness.
- Keep Your Incision Clean
Preventing infection, particularly if you are diabetic, is an extremely important aspect of recovery. Wash your hands properly before inspecting or touching your incision. Make sure to inspect your incision several times a day. If your incision is not visible to you then you need to ask a loved one to do this for you. You need to make sure your wound is healing properly, check the colour of your incision, make sure the stitches are intact and check the wound drainage.
- Keep A Healthy Diet
A healthy diet will provide your body with all the energy, vitamins and minerals it requires to heal your body. Choose foods that are rich in protein, vitamin B12 and vitamin C. Chicken, eggs, fruit and vegetables are all excellent sources of protein and vitamins. Protein is an important component of wound healing. A balanced diet filled with healthy foods will give your body the best chance of recovering quickly. Don’t be afraid of fats, healthy fat helps your body absorb all those vitamins you get from your fruit and vegetables. Fish is an excellent choice for promoting healing.
- Stay Hydrated
Keep your body working optimally during your recovery by maintaining your daily water intake. Staying hydrated will prevent headaches and constipation and trust me, when you’re recovering from surgery the last thing you want to deal with is extra pain and discomfort. After surgery, more fluids are sometimes necessary to help with wound drainage. It is vital that you stay well hydrated following surgery, most adults need around eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day – specifically water and not tea or sodas etc.