When you wake up after your surgery, you may have a urinary catheter in your bladder to monitor the amount of urine you’re producing. You may also have one or more chest tubes inserted between your ribs that drains blood, fluid, and air from your chest cavity after surgery.
Your care team will explain the best way for you to recover, and may offer several recommendations. For example, going for a walk every couple of hours will help to prevent blood clots in your legs and lower your risk of developing pneumonia. Make sure you have help while you are walking as you will have tubes and an IV line connected to you.
You might also be encouraged to use your incentive spirometer, a device you breathe into and draw breath from in order to help your lungs grow stronger and prevent pneumonia. While awake, you may be advised to do breathing and coughing exercises every one to two hours.
The duration of your hospital stay depends on many things, such as the type of surgery you had and how you are recovering. You will stay in the hospital until your doctor feels you are ready to go home. Many people go home the same day the chest tube is removed, which is done once your lung is not leaking air and drainage has sufficiently decreased.
The duration and amount of discomfort after surgery varies. Some people report soreness around their incision for six months or longer, which doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. Follow the guidelines for pain medications provided by your doctor.
Your usual bowel pattern will change after surgery. Talk with your nurse about how to manage constipation. Typical recommendations include drinking plenty of water and avoiding drinks with caffeine, which pulls fluid out of the body. A stool softener may also provide relief.
Your care team will recommend that you eat a balanced diet high in protein, which is great for healing after surgery. Your diet should include a healthy protein source at each meal, as well as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
It is important for you to resume your activities after surgery. Spread them out over the course of the day. Walking and stair climbing are excellent forms of exercise. Light household tasks are encouraged. Using the arm and shoulder on the side of your surgery in your activities will also help restore full strength.
Your first appointment after surgery will likely be one to three weeks after you leave the hospital. Your nurse will give you instructions on how to make this appointment. During this appointment, your doctor will discuss pathology results with you in detail. You may also have appointments with other doctors after your surgery.