How to Plan For Recovering At Home after Surgery

Jun 23, 2023

Tips for a Smooth Recovery After SurgeryWhen a person is preparing for surgery the focus is usually on preparing for the procedure and the operation itself. Little thought is given to the recovery period. Of course, after the procedure, you will need to stay in the hospital for some days until the surgeons feel that your recovery is progressing well and that you no longer require professional nursing care. But going home does not mean that you have fully recovered. Your recovery will continue at home and it is only when the doctors say that your recovery is complete that you should return to normal activities. Even then, depending on the type of surgery, you will be given a list of precautions to take and warning signs that indicate you require medical attention. If physiotherapy is advised, being treated at a hospital with a dedicated physiotherapy department is a major advantage.

The reasons for sending a patient home to complete the recovery are:

  • It frees up hospital resources for other patients
  • It reduces the overall cost of treatment for the patient
  • Recovery is usually more comfortable and peaceful when the patient is in familiar home surroundings.

In India, we tend to live in large families and/or have domestic help so it is common to have people available to support the recovery process as and when needed. However, domestic situations differ and in urban areas, people living alone or in nuclear families are becoming more prevalent. Not all the tips that follow will apply to all patients. Picking what is relevant to your situation and taking the required steps will help you with your recovery.

Getting the Home Ready

  • Change your living conditions: If you live in a multistorey house, arrange your personal living space so that you can live in one room on the ground floor. Climbing stairs and excessive movement must be avoided.
  • Before being admitted to the hospital clear away carpets and small pieces of furniture over which you may trip and hurt yourself.
  • Ask your doctor in advance about post-surgery diet restrictions and stock up on what you need before you go to the hospital.
  • If you will need crutches or a walker or other movement/support equipment, arrange for it to be ready at home when you return.
  • As far as possible arrange for automatic payment of your regular bills so you do not have to worry about it.
  • If you have essential work that needs to be done and your doctors approve, get a small laptop table that can be placed on your bed so you can work, send emails and do other essential activities. Remember that overdoing this can affect your recovery.
  • If you live alone or are an elderly couple on your own, domestic help will be required during the recovery. This will be both for normal domestic housework and cooking and also to help you with washing, changing clothes and so on. If existing domestic arrangements can take care of this, fine. If not make arrangements for a professional home care nurse and reliable domestic help. Or ask a friend or relative to come and stay with you to give you the help you may need.
  • While today nearly everything can be ordered online for delivery at home, some things still need to be bought from the market. Stock up on all these nonperishable items.
  • For perishable goods, if your domestic help cannot do the shopping, arrange for a friend/relative to visit you regularly and bring you what you need.
  • Gong to the bank or ATM will not be possible for some time and cash must be available, not just for day-to-day expenses but also for emergencies. Keep enough cash at home and lock it in a secure place.

Caring For Yourself 

Any major surgery is a traumatic experience for your body. It needs to be cared for to ensure a proper recovery. While the doctors will tell you what to do and not to do, some simple things can make your recovery at home as pleasant as possible. This is when you can indulge yourself, as long as it does not go against the doctor’s instructions.

  • Stock up on your favourite snacks and food items. Be careful not to overindulge as this will place a strain on your system.
  • Collect all the books you have been planning to read but never had the time to do. Now you have the time, make the most of it.
  • Unless the doctors have advised complete bed rest, spend an hour or two sitting in a comfortable chair in the garden or balcony. Fresh air is always good medicine.
  • It is tempting to lie in bed and watch TV all day, but avoid it. TV is fine, but excessive watching can cause eye strain, headaches and so on.
  • Mental stimulation and socializing are important to staying alert and keeping your recovery on track. Spend a few hours a day chatting with family or friends or playing board games, cards, etc.
  • If you have been given exercises to do as part of your recovery, do them exactly as advised and stick to the schedule you have been given. If you feel any discomfort while doing them, tell the doctor immediately.
  • If you experience any unexpected discomfort or feeling or tiredness or feel feverish or develop a body ache, contact your doctor without delay. It could be a sign that your recovery protocol has to be modified.
  • Do not neglect caring for your appearance, as long as it is not a strain. Looking good is an important part of feeling good.
  • There will always be questions that arise during your recovery. Common sense and asking the doctor for advice will keep you safe.

Returning To Normal Activities

The object of a planned recovery is to return you to normal as soon as possible. That does not mean that the day your planned recovery period is over you jump back into your old routine. Get clearance from the doctor before returning to work, doing housework, driving, going shopping or to the cinema and other activities you have been waiting to restart. A few additional days' delay may make the return to normal life smoother and more comfortable.

When it comes to medical treatment, especially surgery, you want the best. Health is not something to gamble with. Go to a multispecialty hospital with a full range of departments and medical services. This will ensure that expert medical care is available not just for the planned procedure, but also if any unplanned issues arise. You will have a lot of questions to ask the doctors before the surgery, but make a list of the questions you have regarding your recovery at home. Knowing in advance what your recovery will entail and what preparations you need to make means that you can get it all done before you go to the hospital. That means that all you need is ready for you when you come home.

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