Your admission letter from the hospital will tell you the date and time of your operation, and what time you need to arrive.
It should also tell you which ward or department you’re going to be in, a contact number for your hospital or ward, and the consultant who will be taking care of you.
When you arrive, a member of staff will explain the processes to you and give you an identity bracelet to wear during your stay in hospital.
During your time in hospital, you may be asked the same questions by several people. This is routine, and ensures that correct information about you is checked and available at each stage of treatment.
You may want to ask some questions of your own, write them down in advance so you won’t forget anything.
Take any medicines your doctor asked you to take before surgery. However, if you normally take tablets or insulin for diabetes, make sure you mention that to the surgical team.
You’ll be asked whether you’re allergic to any medication, if you throw up after surgeries, or whether any relatives have ever had any problems with an anaesthetic.
You’ll be asked to change into a hospital gown, and the details of the operation will be explained. You’ll then be asked to sign a consent form, giving your permission for surgery to go ahead. This form indicates that you know what the surgery is for, and you understand the risks, benefits and alternative treatments.
For some operations, a needle connected to a drip will be injected into your hand, allowing fluids, nourishment and medicine to be given while you’re under anaesthetic.
You’ll be given an anaesthetic, so you won’t feel any pain during the operation.
A general anaesthetic will be needed for a major operation, which means you’ll be asleep throughout the whole operation. It will be given to you via an injection or gas, which you breathe through a mask.
The anaesthetist will be by your side the whole time you are asleep, carefully monitoring you, and will be there when you wake up.
If you don’t need to be put to sleep, you’ll be given a regional anaesthetic. This means you’ll be conscious throughout, but you won’t feel any pain. It may be a local anaesthetic, where a small area is numbed, or an epidural, which reduces sensation in the upper or lower areas of your body.
After surgery you’ll be moved to the recovery room, where you’ll be told how the operation went.
You may feel dizzy as you come round from the anaesthetic. A nurse will give you oxygen through tubes or a mask to help you feel better.
It’s common to feel sick or vomit after you’ve been given anaesthesia. You may also have a sore throat and dry mouth.
Your blood pressure will be taken via an automatic cuff that squeezes tightly at regular times. Your temperature will also be taken.
It’s important to find out how well your operation went. Here are some questions you may want to ask: (>>>>)
Tell your nurse as soon as you start to feel any pain, so they can give you painkilling medication as soon as possible, to stop it getting worse (the medication can take 20 minutes to start working).
The sooner you start to move around, the better. Lying in bed for too long can cause some of your blood to pool in your legs. This puts you at risk of a blood clot.
If possible, doing some leg exercises can help to prevent a blood clot. These may be as simple as flexing your knee or ankle and rotating your foot.
You may be given special support stockings to wear after surgery, or an injection to thin the blood slightly to help reduce the risk of clots.
Research shows the earlier you get out of bed and start walking, eating and drinking after your operation, the faster the recovery will be.
Before you leave hospital you will be given advice about how to care for your wound and how often to use the medications.
Feel free to ask your doctor some questions before you leave hospital. (>>>)
You might be feeling very tired when you get home, especially if you’ve had a major operation or a general anaesthetic.
It’s important to move around as soon as possible after surgery. This will encourage your blood to flow and your wounds to heal, and will build up strength in your muscles.
Generally, try to get back into your regular routine as soon as possible. Eat more healthily, start exercising to stay in shape, and stop smoking if you smoke.
If you or your caregivers at home notice any of the following signs after your operation, call the doctor immediately:
pain or swelling in your leg. The pain may be made worse by bending your foot upward towards your knee
the skin of your leg feeling hot or discoloured
the veins near the surface of your leg appearing larger than normal
Those could be signs of a deep venous thrombosis (DVT). If DVT is not treated, a pulmonary embolism may occur. Pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that has come away from its original site and become lodged in one of your lungs.
If you have a pulmonary embolism, you may experience more serious symptoms, such as:
breathlessness, which may come on gradually or suddenly
chest pain, which may become worse when you breathe in
Your doctor will have given you an idea of how long it’ll take to get back to normal.
As a rough guide, it’ll take you about a week to recover from a simple operation such as gallbladder removal, and a few months to recover from a major operation such as a hip replacement.
Wishing you a speedy recovery.