Many people are surprised at the length of time it takes them to get over an operation, even if it is fairly minor, but time, nature and a bit of determination are usually effective. Do not be afraid to ask for advice, however small your worry may seem. A few words can often save a lot of anxiety.
Loose clothing is generally more comfortable and tracksuits are very suitable. You might feel rather tired and insecure and are frustrated by not being able to do things you want. Do not worry, as it is quite normal. Plan an undisturbed bed rest during this period. Let your friends and relatives know not to call or telephone during that time.
A gradual increase in exercise is helpful, start with a short walk two or three times a day and increase distance over the next few weeks. If specific exercises are needed, ask before you leave Hospital. Most people find it more comfortable to sit in a high chair as it can be difficult getting up from a low seat. Climbing stairs can be surprisingly tiring, but is a useful way of getting exercise and judging your progress.
Bathing and showering: It is quite safe to get your wound wet after your operation (unless otherwise advised). There is no evidence to show that adding salt to the bath aids healing, and in some cases it can make your skin feel dry and uncomfortable. You might feel insecure getting into and out of the bath. A bath mat helps to cut down the risk of slipping. A towel hooked around the taps can be helpful in pulling yourself up. Many people feel more secure if there is someone else in the house when they take their first bath or shower even if actual help is not needed.
All wounds progress through several stages of healing and you will be able to see changes in your wound. The following points can frequently be experienced:
- Unusual sensations such as tingling, numbness or itching
- A slightly hard lumpy feeling as the new tissue forms
- Slight pulling around the stitches as the wound heals. There may be swelling and some redness around the stitches. This is not uncommon and will disappear after stitches are removed or have dissolved
- Remember - not to pull off any scabs as they protect the new tissues underneath and act as 'nature's dressing'. They will fall off without any help when ready
Seek help if:
- The amount of pain in your wound increases
- If the amount of redness and/or swelling increases
- If there is any discharge from your wound
- If you develop a temperature or general flu-like feelings
Calf, chest or thigh pain
Some patients may be discharged with support / anti-embolism stockings. It is essential that you wear these for the length of time specified by your surgeon and that you understand how to ensure the stockings are put on properly.
If you develop pain or tenderness in your calf or thigh, or chest pain or shortness of breath, please contact your Surgeon, GP or go to a 24-Hour Surgery ASAP.
You might find your appetite is small and you get a 'bloated' feeling or indigestion after meals. These symptoms usually clear up by themselves as you become more active. Small meals, taken regularly can reduce the likelihood of their occurrence. If you are in doubt about the right sort of food to eat, ask for advice. A small amount of alcohol can improve your appetite and is not normally harmful. Please consult your surgeon prior to discharge. Changes in diet, activity and the use of some drugs can lead to irregular bowel habits but this usually rights itself with time. A diet high in fibre and fruit will help prevent constipation.
Driving and work
The time at which you can safely start driving varies a great deal with the type of operation you have had. Ask your surgeon for specific advice regarding commencement of driving. Do remember that your movement and strength must be up to coping with an emergency stop as well as normal driving.
The time at which you can return to work depends on both the type of operation you have had and what your job is. It is better to feel completely well before you return as many people feel tired and find concentration difficult to start with. More specific advice can be given to you by your surgeon.
Sexual activity and sleeping
There is no absolute rule about the time at which you can resume your usual sexual relationships. Ask your surgeon for advice.
Changes in routine and restricted movement can cause difficulty in sleeping. You might be woken by wound discomfort caused by sudden movement. If this does occur it may be helpful to take some pain relief prior to settling.