Following your Operation
It is normal to stay in the recovery area for some time after surgery. You will be discharged back to the ward when the staff are happy that you are recovering and that your pain is controlled and your observations are within your normal limits. Restarting your deep breathing exercises and incentive spirometry as soon as possible after the operation will help your lungs recover quicker as well as help to prevent developing a chest infection.
You will have some oxygen via a mask or a nasal cannula, you could remain on oxygen as long as you have a Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA)/ epidural in situ.
Other observations such as blood pressure, temperature, pulse and respirations will be monitored closely. You may have a drip in your arm which will ensure you receive adequate fluids until you are drinking well.
You will have a urinary catheter to drain your urine so that staff can monitor your kidney function and ensure that you are producing urine. You will have a dressing on your wound. Good pain control encourages a good recovery. During the operation the anaesthetist commonly give blocks via fine catheters that make your stomach muscles numb. These blocks wear off and it is important that your analgesia (pain relief) is maintained, some patient return from theatre with the fine tubes into their stomach muscles still in place these can be used to “top up” blocks. Sometimes a spinal anaesthetic may also be administered by the anaesthetist this again wears off in time.
Good pain relief allows you to rest comfortably, take deep breaths and cough effectively and allows you to mobilise. The nurses will assess your pain regularly. You may have an epidural infusion which goes into your back, this provides continuous pain relief. Alternatively, you may have a Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) system. This goes through a drip in your arm. The PCA involves you controlling your pain by pressing a button that then releases pain relief (usually morphine) into your system.
In addition you will likely receive paracetamol through your drip. It is important that you tell us if the pain relief is not adequate as there are different or additional types of analgesia that we can use. We can also draw on the expertise of a group of nurses that specialise in pain control and the anaesthetists.
You may experience some nausea/sickness. You will be given anti sickness medication during your operation to reduce the chance of this happening. Again, it is important that you tell us if you feel sick so that we can give further medication. An hour or two after your operation you will be offered a drink and/or a refreshing ice lolly. You may also be given a nutritious supplement drink called a fortisip (milk based) or a fortijuice (juice based). Patients with diabetes can be given milk as an alternative. These will aid recovery. However, it is important that you do not force yourself to eat and drink if you are feeling sick or unwell. If you tolerate the drinks you may be able to have a little food. You may find eating “little and often” after your surgery rather than full meals is more suitable, you can bring in to hospital a selection of snacks that you enjoy for this purpose such as biscuits, crisps etc. There is research to suggest that chewing gum three times a day can encourage bowel activity, this is called “sham eating” please bring chewing gum into hospital to have after your operation. If you feel able to get up on the day of surgery the nurses will help you to do some marching on the spot or sit for a short period in the chair. During the evening after your operation you will be given an injection either in your stomach or your arm or your thigh which is a blood thinning injection called Dalteparin. This is designed to help reduce the risk of blood clots developing.
These injections are a daily injection and will continue for 28 days from the day of surgery and you will be taught how to continue with these at home