Having surgery is stressful and can cause you some level of anxiety before your procedure. While some surgical procedures are done with very little notice, most are scheduled in advance and give you some time to plan. In addition to planning who will drive you to your appointment and who will take over your work tasks or care for your children while you’re in the hospital or surgical center, it’s important to create a post op care plan.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
Before you can really plan how your life will look in the days and weeks following your surgery, you first need to know what to expect. The first question you’ll want to ask your doctor is how long you will be in the hospital or surgical center. Will your procedure be done on an outpatient basis, or will you need to spend one or more nights being supervised by medical staff?
You will also want to find out how much pain you should expect to be in. Many procedures now are done laparoscopically and this can result in less pain after your surgery. Others, however, will cause significant pain for several days. Talk to your care team about what you can realistically expect. How much moving around will you be able to do?
In most post op care plans, you will be encouraged to get up and move pretty quickly after your procedure. Those having orthopedic surgeries are often surprised that they are expected to get up and try to walk or move around. This movement increases circulation and promotes healing. It can also help prevent serious complications such as deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.
Will you need help moving, or will you be able to safely use the bathroom, take showers, cook meals, and so on? Must you adhere to a specific diet and, if so, for how long. Will you need help keeping your incision clean, or will you require more advanced wound care? When can you drive again? All of these questions will help you to create your post op care plan.
Start With the Basics
It can be overwhelming to be told that you need to spend a certain number of days in bed, followed by weeks of not being able to drive or attend to your normal household tasks. When planning for your release from the hospital, it’s important to start with some basics.
- When creating your post op care plan, the first consideration should be your diet. Chances are, you will not be ready on the day you get home to whip yourself up a four-course meal! You will want something easy but also healthy, as eating fast food is not good for someone recovering from surgery. If you will be recuperating at home and there is not another adult available to cook for you, you might want to cook some meals ahead and have them ready in the refrigerator or freezer to heat up.
- During recovery, if you will not be able to get yourself to your bathroom and shower safely, then you will need another adult to stay with you. If you live alone, do you have a family member or close friend who will be able to do this? If not, you may need to hire a nurse to come in and help you for a few days.
- Also, consider who can drive you to physical therapy and follow-up appointments if they are needed. Depending on the type of procedure you have done, you might need to avoid driving for two to six weeks or even longer. The person driving you should be able to help you in and out of the car and should have room for any assistive devices you need (such as crutches or a wheelchair).
You will need to prepare your home to make it easier for you to get around. Move furniture out of the way if it will impede you from getting to your kitchen and bathroom easily, particularly if you will be in a wheelchair or using a walker. Watch for any cords or loose rugs that can be tripping hazards.
Even though you walk around your house now without any issue, keep in mind that you might have trouble walking and might be more prone to falls. Your post op care plan should ensure that your home is safe before your surgery. It can seem overwhelming to prepare for your aftercare, but it will be even more stressful if you wait until after your surgery to begin to think about these things.
Consider a Post Op Recovery Center
In many cases, it is easier on patients and on their families if some of the after-surgery recovery takes place in a recovery center such as Pearl Recovery Retreat. At a center like this, there are dedicated staff members who will be on hand to help you with whatever you need. You’ll have people there to help you get to the bathroom and shower if you need it. You’ll also have staff who can keep track of your medications for you, so you won’t need to worry about remembering the details of a new or more complex regimen.
Physical therapy and follow-ups can often be done right at the center, making it easy for you to get to these essential appointments. And your family will not be put in the position of worrying about you when they are at work or school, which can relieve a large burden from them. Perhaps best of all, your meals will be not only delicious and nutritious but also delivered right to you! You won’t need to cook or worry about whether you have enough fruit or milk for the next day.
Talk to your doctor about what your post op care plan should look like and then plan for it well in advance of your surgery. Knowing that there is a plan in place can relieve some of your anxiety and stress leading up to your surgery day, and that alone can help you heal more quickly. Knowing how your basic tasks will get done and who will be available to help you can take a huge weight off of your shoulders before you go in for your procedure.