A common result of pain medication and anesthesia is constipation and difficulty urinating, so clear fluids will be encouraged and the surgeon may prescribe a mild stool softener. If the patient is unable to empty his/her bladder, a catheter may be reinserted. In addition to temporary bladder paralysis, the digestive tract is often slow to “wake” from anesthesia. Once the digestive system is moving again the patient is typically allowed to begin a clear liquid diet and progress to a normal diet.
Prior to discharge, it is essential that any special requirements for returning home are addressed. If the patient needs oxygen, a special bed or any other equipment, the hospital will provide assistance arranging for it prior to discharge.
Getting Back To Normal
Don’t be surprised if you feel very tired when you get home, especially if you’ve had a major operation or a general anesthetic.
The level of activity permitted varies widely with the procedure performed. Some surgeries, such as a hip replacement, may require physical therapy while other patients may be discharged with instructions to “take it easy.”
Pain is a good indication of whether or not the patient is trying to do too much. Pain should be manageable with the prescribed pain medication. If activity causes pain to skyrocket, the patient may be trying to accomplish too much too soon. Experiencing no pain is often an unreasonable expectation, but pain should be controlled enough to allow walking to the bathroom and sitting up in a chair.
It’s important to move around as soon as possible after surgery and follow your doctor’s advice on getting active again. This will encourage your blood to flow and your wounds to heal, and will build up strength in your muscles. Read about walking for health. Generally, try to get back into your regular routine as soon as possible. Use this as an opportunity to make a fresh start: to eat more healthily, start exercising to stay in shape, and stop smoking if you smoke.
If you have a dressing on the area operated on, follow the instructions your nurse gave you to care for your wound at home.