29 April 2013

How to Survive Surgery

If you've been hanging out here over the past week or so, you know that I underwent a "minor" procedure on my shoulder to repair an injury I sustained a little over a year ago.  I'd never had surgery before, and had NO. IDEA. what I was in for.  It's no small thing to be put under, have half your body numbed by a nerve block, and have some dude a highly skilled surgeon poking around inside your shoulder to repair said damage.  I learned a lot in this process, and hope my experience is helpful to some of you! Feel free to PIN this post to reference later. You might thank me. :)

Going into the procedure, I knew enough about the procedure itself. My surgeon talked me through what he expected to do, and that he expects that it will diminish my pain completely. That is the key to all of this. No. More. Pain.  What I didn't feel prepared for, however, was what to expect after the surgery itself. I'd never been put under general anesthesia before, and have never needed to take strong pain medication, so I really had no idea what to expect. I'm a very let-me-plan-it-out person, so not knowing was tough. I wish my post-surgery expectations had been better managed by my health care team.  

  1. Take a shower immediately pre-procedure.  I didn't know that I wouldn't be allowed to shower for three days after my surgery.  I'm SO glad I showered that morning.
  2. Pay attention to what you wear to the hospital; you'll need to wear the same thing out. I knew going in that I wanted to wear something comfortable, so I chose yoga pants and a zip up top. What I didn't know was that when I was leaving, I'd still be feeling VERY weak and groggy, and that my shoulder would not work.  I was completely unable to dress myself, and it took the help of a nurse and my mom to get my clothes on when it was time to leave. It was also pretty painful. I wish I would have worn something with a MUCH looser fit.
  3. Food + Drink: The combination of the medication I was on and the anesthesia made it so food was wholly unappealing.  In fact - I'm four days out, and it still is.  I'm glad I had a supply of Saltines on hand, and soon requested Gatorade, since I was quickly becoming dehydrated. The Saltines will be helpful, because you'll find you want the medicine to have a "soft place to land" in your stomach.
  4. Tray of necessary items: I spent the first several days in bed, and found it helpful to have a tray of items next to me within easy reach. My bedside table is on the side of me with the injury, so I wasn't able to reach that direction. The tray (situated on my "good" side) kept everything upright, and became home to my water tumbler, gatorade, medicines, phone, saltines, and glasses. 
  5. Bathrobe: When you get home, have your bathrobe ready.  I hung out in my robe for the first few days. It was comfortable, roomy enough for my bandages, and was easy to navigate for using the restroom
  6. Caffeine Pills: Coffee is my love. Today is Sunday. I have not had coffee since Tuesday morning. It's the longest I've gone without coffee since I started drinking coffee.  This is going to sound weird, but I've been taking caffeine pills (doctor prescribed) since the morning of the surgery to prevent the inevitable caffeine headache. I HIGHLY recommend this method, since the idea of coffee is not appealing at all right now.
  7. Old Person Pill Sorter: It seems totally elderly, but I'm glad I put my pill sorter to use post-surgery.  There are lots of medicines that need to be taken on different time schedules.  My mom would fill each slot with my next set of meds, then we'd set my phone alarm, so I knew I just needed to reach into the next pill compartment when my phone alarm sounded.  The medication process would have been very confusing without this solution.
  8. Other thoughts: I brought a TON of stuff with me to the surgery center, including my computer, iPad, a magazine, etc., to keep my occupied before the procedure began.  It turns out I really didn't need any of it.  The only thing I really needed was my phone and phone charger. I even recorded a pre-surgery video on my phone. :)
This post ended up being pretty long, and may seem elementary to you surgery-pros out there, but everyone has a first time, right? I hope you've found some helpful tips.

Update: I forgot to mention that I asked my doctor about the safest way to dispose of the narcotics I was prescribed, once I was finished with them. He instructed me to take them to my local police station, and that they'll take care of them for me. Good to know! I'd always wondered...

Feel free to ask other questions in the comments, and feel free to pin the post for later!

** Side note: I am, of course, not a medical professional. PLEASE consult with your physician for all related information. I just wanted to share what's worked for me!

1 comment:

  1. This is such a great list! Hope you are feeling better soon!!


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