After surgery you will recover initially in the first phase post anesthesia care area where a nurse will closely monitor your pain, breathing patterns, vital signs, etc. You may be aware of monitors and tubes such as an intravenous catheter (IV), oxygen or drainage tubes as you wake up. You may feel dizziness, drowsiness, and sometimes nausea after anesthesia. It is also normal to feel discomfort at the surgical site. Once initial recovery criteria have been met, you will be transferred to the second phase post op area or your hospital room where your family members/significant others will be able to be with you until you are ready for discharge. If you are having same-day surgery, a post-op nurse will continue to monitor you until you are ready for discharge.
Your nurses and doctors work with you to help make you as comfortable as possible. Communication with your healthcare team is vital to getting the best pain relief. Both drug and non-drug treatments can be beneficial in controlling and reducing your pain. Many people combine 2 or methods to get greater relief. Do not worry about getting addicted to pain medications. Studies show it is very rare and that you will stop taking the pain medications when you are no longer experiencing pain. Diet Your surgeon will determine when you are able to start drinking and eating. Your diet will advance from liquids to solids based on your surgical procedure and bowel activity. Please inform the pre-admission nurse who calls you prior to surgery if you have any food allergies or intolerances.
Preparing to Go Home
The length of your hospital stay will depend on your type of surgery and your physical condition. Due to advances in medical practices and changes in health insurance, many patients are able to go home sooner after surgery. Your surgeon and health care team will plan your discharge with you. We encourage your family to ask questions and participate in your care. This will assist them in feeling comfortable helping you once you are home.
You will receive a packet with specific instructions from your surgeon, as well as instructions from the hospital when you are discharged to go home. The nurse will go over these instructions with you before you leave and answer any of your questions. If you have not already received prescriptions prior to the day of surgery from your physician, you will be given prescriptions from your surgeon by your post-op nurse. The person driving you home will need to be prepared to get the prescriptions filled. You will be given a ride in a wheel chair to your vehicle at the time of discharge. You will need a responsible adult to drive you home. We recommend you have someone with you for 24 hours after you return home.
• Do not do any exercise until your surgeon says it is okay.
• Do not do any activities that require alertness, balance, coordination, or judgment for the first 24 hours after surgery.
• Do not shower or take a bath until your doctor says it is okay.
• Do not drive or operate equipment for at least 24 hours after you go home.
• Do not make important decisions or sign legal papers for at least 24 hours after you go home.
• Put an ice pack on your surgery site as instructed by your surgeon.
• Follow specific instructions from your surgeon.
Contact the surgeon's office if
• The arm or leg that was operated on turns blue, feels cold to the touch, is numb or tingles, and you did not have a nerve block.
• You have signs of infection including increased pain, unusual drainage, redness or swelling, foul odor, fever over 101 degrees F.
• You think you’re having a reaction to the medicine.
• You continue to feel sick to your stomach, you are throwing up, and you can’t keep liquids down or have signs of dehydration (dry mouth, very little urine that is dark colored, and no tear).
• You are not able to urinate (pee) 12 hours after surgery.
Call 911 if
• You have chest pain or heaviness in the chest.
• You can’t catch your breath or have a hard time breathing.
• Your face is drooping or you have weakness in your arm or changes in speech.
• You can’t wake up the person you are caring for. (Check on them every 1 to 2 hours during the first 24 hours. They may be tired or sleepy but should be easy to wake up.)
• A nurse from the hospital or surgery center will attempt to call you 1-2 business days after surgery to ask how you are doing.