How to Properly Recover from Surgery
Recently, one of my family members was burdened with a long stay in the hospital after a major surgery. I would love to say that her extended stay was not her fault, but deep down inside, I know she could have taken steps to heal better.
Many people make mistakes in the hospital and after surgery. They are often smothered by family members intending to do well. Worse, many of them sabotage themselves by trying to stay stoic through the pain or getting back to work and daily living too soon.
Let me just remind you that if you or a loved one is recovering from surgery, two to six weeks is NOTHING compared to a lifetime. You CAN take it easy for whatever the allotted time may be. If you don’t, you will only prolong the healing time required and make things worse for yourself.
Rest, sleep, solitude
DO NOT have a party in your hospital room. You should have one or two people visit you at once. Many people will routinely have four or six people in there at once. Bad idea. Instead of focusing on healing, your body is absorbing all of the worry and energy of the people around you. You may end up asking them about their life and wasting all of your energy on small talk. They can keep you from sleeping - which is really the only thing you need to do.
Our bodies recover when we sleep. This is why professional athletes sleep 10 to 12 hours a day regularly. When you are recovering from surgery, you are are recovering from getting hit by a bus with tiny knives on the front. JUST SLEEP. Aim for 12 to 20 hours per day, especially in the first week after surgery. Keep you social time to a minimum and let you subconscious do the work. It has a lot of tissue to repair!
Protein and collagen rich foods
No more than ever, you body need protein rich food. You need this because so much tissue repair, red blood cell generation and high immune response in your body. Protein is essential to wound healing, so try to get plenty of foods like chicken, beef, bone broth and eggs.
Other nutrients include Vitamin C. Some research shows that Vitamin C and zinc can help with healing, so eat the one serving of vitamin C rich fruit each day.
B12 and Iron are going to be high on the list of priorities when it comes to nutrition and recovery. Iron and B12 both aid bone marrow in forming new blood cells, so incorporate foods like fish, bone broth and eggs.
Fiber and probiotics are also key in recovery. This combination helps boost the immune system and also keeps your digestive tract moving along. Kimchi, keifer, yogurt and sauerkraut are all great sources. A shot of apple cider vinegar with the mother is another great way to get probiotics, magnesium and potassium. Probiotics are also good because many of you will be taking an antibiotic which will kill the gut biome and make you feel pretty low. Be sure to space out your probiotics and antibiotics four hours apart.
Do everything you can to avoid inflammatory foods like those that are highly processed or contain added sugar. Keep fruits to a low level to minimize sugar intake and drink lots of water.
Bouts of movement
Just because you should take it easy doesn’t mean you should put yourself on misery bed rest. Getting up and walk outside will do you good. Be gentle and careful though. AIm to fo at 30-40% of your regular speed and effort. Be sure to get some sunshine, even if you can only stand in front of the window to do it. Even in winter and grey places, some natural light will do you good. A bit of walking, gentle stretching and mild dancing will lift the spirits, improve blood flow and keep you from getting stagnant. After your exercise is done, head in for a nap.
Be sure to keep you hands clean when touching you wound. Also, massage the scar and the tissue around it so it doesn't get large, painful and bulky. But definitely tend to it to avoid infection.
Know when you need to go back to the doctor
For whatever your ailment is, know what the warning signs are that things are getting worse not better. There is no reason you should tough it out when toughing it out will get you hurt or worse. Talk with your doc about warning signs and risks of healing gone askew.
Control but don’t avoid pain
No one wants to run the gamble of becoming addicted to pain meds. Totally understandable! But don’t put stay away from pain meds so much that you put yourself at risk of anything. A bit of discomfort is good for healing. Pain, heat and inflammation promotes the immune response and lends in healing. Too much is a bad thing and not enough is too. Don't use pain meds at every little tick of discomfort you have.
Trying to avoid pain all together is what will put you on the fast track to addiction. You were just cut open. Pain is a HEALTHY and normal response to that ordeal. It is there to remind you not to over do it and look out for yourself. Pain and heat also signal our immune system of where they need to be working. Go head and feel some pain. But don’t make yourself sick with it. If your pain is cutting into your sleep, then it is cutting into your healing. Know when to take the big guns out and when to put them away. If you can get away with just aspirin and some CBD, do it. But if you need more help, don't be stubborn
Stay away from work and driving for a while
There is a reason your doctor said no driving. When you are healing, your reaction time might be a bit slower than normal and the meds will interfere with your attention, judgement and response. You need to be careful and call for help.
If you have had surgery, take the allotted time off of work. If you have such a job or life that you feel you can’t take this time off work, this may have been the stress that caused you to have surgery in the first place.
Only a demon would be unsympathetic to you taking time off to recover. You need to recover. Your other option is half useless at work, in pain and prolong your recovery time. Remember, YOU come first here. And you are at the complete mercy of your body, not your will. Be good, kind and patient with yourself and you will be thankful for the miracle of modern medicine rather than cursing it