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Taking care of yourself after surgery

Taking care of yourself after surgery is going to be an important part of your recovery process. In fact, taking a little time before surgery to plan ahead is a great way to ensure that you are on track to make the best possible recovery.

Regardless of the type of surgery you are having, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about what you should expect after surgery. Be sure to find out which activities you won’t be able to do, and ask friends and family for help with these things ahead of time.

Making changes to your house

Depending on the type of surgery that you have, you may need to make some changes to your house. These changes may be temporary, or may need to be in place for quite a while. Before you head into hospital, take a moment to write down a list of any changes that will need to be made to your house, and then make sure these changes are done before your surgery.

Walking up and down stairs can be difficult for people who have had surgery. If you have stairs in your home, have a think about how you are going to navigate them. Will you need to go upstairs to bed? If so, consider moving your bed downstairs until you are well enough to use the stairs. If your bathroom is upstairs, have a plan in place for how you are going to access it. Transporter commodes are great for people with limited mobility to use the shower or bathroom.

Getting the right equipment

It’s also a great idea to find out if you will need any other types of equipment during your recovery process. Depending on your surgery, you might find it difficult to use the toilet or shower. Specialised equipment such as raised toilet seats and grab rails are available, so be sure to get these things organised before you come home from hospital.

Compression aids and post operative shoes are ideal after some surgeries as they aim to reduce swelling and help maintain blood flow.

Other things you might like to think about include whether or not you will be able to prepare your own meals or use the kettle. You probably won’t feel like cooking during your early recovery time, so plan ahead and stock your freezer with pre-cooked meals that you can quickly heat up when you need them.

Lady holding bathroom grab rail

Thinking about food and supplements

Taking care of yourself after surgery also involves paying attention to your nutrition. Make sure that you have enough grocery supplies at home to get you through the early stages of your recovery process. Talk to your doctor ahead of time to find out if you will need to eat (or avoid) certain foods, and then be sure to shop for what you need before your surgery.

Your doctor or nutritionist may also suggest that you take dietary supplements. They may recommend specific changes to your diet, such as eating more calcium rich foods, and making sure you get enough vitamin B12. You might also be monitored for Hyperkalemia, which is a medical term that is used to describe having too much potassium in your blood.

Looking after your pelvic floor

Looking after your pelvic floor is important for both men and women. Most physiotherapists recommend doing pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegels, regularly. These exercises are especially important after childbirth or surgery to the pelvic region.

Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles which support the bladder, small intestine and rectum. In women, they also support the uterus. Pedal Exercisers are a great way to strenghten pelvic floor muscles. Talk to your doctor before surgery about how to look after your pelvic floor while you are recovering.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can happen after some types of surgery, especially if you’ve had a catheter in place during or after your procedure. Most hospitals work very hard to ensure that you don’t develop a UTI, however they do still occur.

Signs and symptoms to look out for include a burning sensation when passing urine, feeling an urge to urinate but only passing a few drops, foul smelling urine and urine that is cloudy, bloody or dark. UTIs can also cause fever, chills or back pain.

If you experience symptoms of a UTI be sure to contact your doctor right away. Most UTIs can be treated with antibiotics. It’s also a good idea to drink plenty of water and urinate as soon as you feel the need to, rather than holding on.

Look out for complications

Taking care of yourself after surgery also involves looking out for any complications. Ensuring wounds are kept clean and well protected is imperative for the recovery process. If you spot a problem early, you may be able to avoid more serious problems down the track. Common complications after surgery include; fever, pain, that gets worse over time, nausea or vomiting that doesn’t stop, and a racing heartbeat.

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