While surgery might not be something patients look forward to, in many cases surgery will provide some kind of relief either from pain or disease. There are many different kinds of surgeries, from bariatric to gynecologic to thoracic, and each one comes with its own unique set of preparations. However, this guide offers some suggestions to help patients feel better faster no matter the surgery they have.
Preparing in advance
One of the most important things patients can do to help their postoperative recovery is to prepare in advance. Rather than waiting until after surgery to see what they need, it is in every patient’s best interest to ask their surgeons what to expect and prepare their home accordingly. While taking a wait-and-see approach can be logical in some instances, patients and their caregivers want to stay at home after surgery and not worry about rushing to acquire items that would make recovery better after the fact.
It is very important to the healing process that patients get ample rest, and this can be difficult to do while in the hospital because of nursing shift changes and vitals checks. However, once a patient returns home, getting adequate rest can also feel tricky due to pain and immobility.
Dr. Nyagon Duany, an orthopedic surgeon with Norton Orthopedic Institute who specializes in shoulder and knee surgeries, tells her patients to expect a certain amount of discomfort that will impact their sleep. “You’ll be limited in your position and how you can move. For most kinds of surgeries, you’re going to become a back sleeper,” she says. Depending on the type of shoulder surgery a patient has, they will be in a sling for two to six weeks. The reality, though, is “people weren’t getting good sleep anyway; they could not sleep at night because their shoulder hurt so badly,” Dr. Duany says.
Scott Jerke, director of rehabilitation services at VNA Health at Home, says getting on a schedule for pain medicine is something to consider in terms of getting adequate rest. “If you go to bed at 9pm, you wouldn’t necessarily want to be taking your pain pill at 5am,” he says. It may take a few days to figure out the best routine.
BY CARRIE VITTITOE
ILLUSTRATION BY SILVIA CABIB