Tips for a Quick Recovery
Being informed as a patient or family member can help to alleviate fears of the unknown and set expectations for a post-surgical experience. Upon completion of surgery, both inpatients and outpatients are brought to a recovery room. Once in the recovery room, doctors will begin monitoring them to determine if they meet certain conditions before being released to an inpatient room or allowed to leave the hospital. The criterion for releasing a patient from recovery depends on the type of surgery that was performed.
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Outpatients can typically expect the doctor to wait for anesthesia to wear off. They will also monitor the patient’s pain levels, ability to sit-up, stand, walk and urinate. The attending physician will also check for reactions to anesthesia or extreme pain from the patient which may result in the need to stay at the hospital. As an inpatient, attending physicians are monitoring the patient’s respiratory status prior to releasing the person to their hospital room. Immediate family members will typically be permitted to join a patient in recovery room to comfort them.
While recovering from surgery, patients should not expect their experience to be pain free, though their pain should be controlled. It is important to communicate how you are feeling with your nurses and doctor. Depending upon your surgery, you may be released to your home or a nursing home for physical and occupational rehabilitation. Upon discharge, the patient and family members will receive a list of instructions that will include medication, wound care, follow-up, and activity instructions. It is imperative that you follow these instructions, as your doctor may change your existing medications, limit your activity and expect to see you by a certain timeframe to check on your recovery.
You should contact your surgeon after surgery if you experience these symptoms:
- A fever of greater than 101 degrees
- Unexplained leg pain
- Unable to eat
- Unable to urinate
- Unable to have a bowel movement
- Bloody or dark stool
- Increasing weakness
- Coughing up or vomiting blood
- Pus, drainage or streaks from the incision site
- Incision site begins to separate
- Unbearable pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Unexpected severe headache
These are steps you can take to maintain your independence at home. If you have a lot of responsibilities at home, such as cleaning and cooking, you may want to check with your doctor about performing these same functions at home during recovery. If you are restricted from these types of activities, ask for help from family and friends. You can prepare some easy dishes in advance for meals for your return.