When you are in the immediate recovery phase of surgery, you will feel fatigued and “achy”. Depending upon your type of surgery, you will have certain precautions which are noted in the specific surgical sections that follow this section.
There is no prohibition to being a passenger in a vehicle or even an airplane immediately after surgery as long as you are careful. If you are traveling from a significant distance (by airplane or longer than 4 hours by car) to our practice, it is recommended to stay in the Vail Valley for 7-10 days after surgery.
In general, you should have no fever, chills or sweats after surgery. Don’t hesitate to call the office if you develop any of these symptoms. Significant headaches are typically uncommon. If you have a headache when upright that goes away when you lie down, call the office. Any new onset leg pain- again please call.
Walking is one of the activities that need to be encouraged no matter what your surgery. Short walks at first that can be extended as you regain your strength is the order of the day. If you are in a neck collar, you can’t look down so make sure you have no obstructions in your path.
Take pain medication as directed but only when you have pain. If you have minimal pain- don’t regularly take the medication just because the label states “take every 4 to 6 hours as needed”.. The key phrase is “as needed”. On the other hand, don’t be a martyr and suffer with needless pain. Use the medication wisely. If you are on high doses of pain medication, you may have occasions when you feel sweaty or “flu like”. This may be a small bout of temporary withdrawal symptoms and are expected.
Muscle relaxant medication is useful for the spasms and general “tightness” around the surgical site. It will last for 8 hours and can make you fatigued. This makes it useful if you are having difficulty getting to sleep.
You were given an “incentive spirometer” in the hospital that you have taken home. This plastic device encourages deep inspirations which help to guard against “atelectasis”, a common post-operative problem. Most patients after surgery take only shallow breaths and don’t fill up the lungs sufficiency. This prevents the deeper lung air sacs from filling and they collapse down. This in turn promotes low grade fevers. Using the incentive spirometer makes you take a deep breath which opens the small lung air-sacs. This prevents fevers.
Eat eat eat. Your body is requiring more proteins and even carbohydrates to recover. Don’t hesitate to eat. If you have no appetite, use a supplement like Boost, Ensure or Enrich to make sure you are getting the required food.
Constipation is the most common post operative problem and is caused by the narcotic medications. Do not get constipated! Use whatever measures necessary to prevent this. Nuclear weapons are OK to use. Anything with psyllium seeds work well such as Metamucil. You can take products that increase peristalsis such as colase. Prune juice works well as well as coffee.
Make sure your family doctor or internist knows about your surgery. Normally, he or she has been asked to clear you for surgery but if not, make sure they know about your surgery.