Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tips for bouncing back from surgery

1) Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. 48 hours beforehand crank up your fluid intake.
2) Exercise...I did 2 hours of Pilates - one hour on the reformer followed by an hour of mat the day before my surgery. (A year after my mastectomy, I still feel tight across my pecs and need to stretch thoroughly everyday - even though I often don't and regret it.)
3) Don't forget when you head to the hospital to put on a pink bracelet to alert nurses not to take blood pressure or blood or place an i.v. in the side where you had lymph nodes removed - if you forget and if they forget you could end up with a nasty case of lymphedema.
4) Take off your rings (including your wedding ring). Your fingers will swell and they will cut them off during surgery if you forget and leave them on.
5) Don't wear make-up. lotions or contacts.
6) Wear a loose button down shirt - you won't want to lift your arms above your head after surgery. And wear some stretchy exercise pants - nothing tight and nothing with zippers and buttons - you won't want to fool with them.
7) Bring a jog bra that zips up the front. It's good for compression after surgery and for safety pinning your drains to - as you leave the hospital.
8) Reconstruction is an in and out surgery - like the drive-thru at McDonald's - treat it like you are preparing for a play-off game and as soon as you come to from the anesthesia just begin focusing on hydrating - your mouth will feel like cotton (I like cranberry juice and am a fan of gingerale after surgery - as well as crushed ice - have some on hand at home.)
9) You will feel nauseous when you wake up so as soon as you can, start sipping on a liquid and have some graham crackers. You want to have something in your stomach before they give you your first pain killer. And immediately begin deep breathing exercises - will help with nausea.
10) Avoid Percocet if you can - I preferred Vicodan. Percocet makes you woozy and mighty constipated.
11) Another reason to hydrate - the constipation 3 days after surgery will make you feel more sick than the pain from the surgery - wean yourself off the pain meds as soon as possible - it's sore but not painful - it's not like the mastectomy.
12) Make sure you have Dulcolax at home and start taking 2 at a time as soon as you leave surgery - be preemptive about constipation. It's miserable. Also try your Chia seeds - one scoop a day.
13) If you have had radiation insist on 10 days of antibiotics after surgery because the rate of infection in radiated skin is huge. I talked to a friend last night who had her surgery in August and she was hospitalized in October for a week for an infection because she didn't take her antibiotics after surgery. I am on cipro and doxycycline. Ask for them by name and have a little Zofran on hand for nausea until you get back on your feet.
14) Get a hospital wedge pillow to sleep on at home - you won't feel like lying back too far - you can get them at any hospital supply store.
15) Don't lie around. The sooner you can begin walking, the sooner you will get the anesthesia out of your system and it is the best way to counter pain and nausea. You can begin walking almost right away. Take a daily 30 minute to 45 minute walk.
16) Shower as soon as you can. I waited a few days because of the drains and realize that was a mistake.
17) Wear button up pajamas that you can pin your drains to. I favor the silky white kind that look like you are on the set of Breakfast at Tiffany's. You want to feel pretty.
18) Have group e-mail list set-up before surgery so that your husband (or 9 year-old) can e-blast your friends who will want to know how you are. Place a phone by the bed but place the ringer off so that calls don't wake you but so you can communicate and don't have to get up to find a phone when you wake up from naps.
19) Ginger - ginger is a great natural anti-nausea trick. Eat something with ginger - I found Thai tofu and broccoli with coconut milk and ginger was just perfect. Yum! Remember to eat lots of small meals to keep the meds from making you nauseous.
20) Smile - you'll feel better in a week. This will not last. I promise.