One week post-op. It is hard to believe that one week ago I had the first major surgery of my life.
So far everything has been great! I do not get the recommended 64 ounces of fluid in per day yet, but I have begun to get at least 60 grams of protein in per day. It took me until now to really be able to do that.
I have a notepad with the things I did daily. This has helped me stay focus, keep track of when I needed to take meds, and progress.
Here is what I included on the notepad:
- Nutrition intake (calories, grams of protein, and ounces of liquid)
- When meds and vitamins were taken
- Bowel habits
- Use of my incentive spirometer
- Occasional notes of trouble with pain, swallowing, sleeping walking, etc
- Stand upright when walking around (this will help with breathing and will help stretch out the muscles and large incision with the most pain (the one they manipulated to pull the stomach out through))
- Wear a bra when walking around. I have large breasts and they tended to put pressure on my incisions and lungs without a bra on. This was uncomfortable.
- Use the incentive spirometer every hour. I did not for the first day and a half, but when I started using it, my breathing was much better and it was less painful. The pain comes from the gas in the abdomen area they put in me during surgery as well as the minimal stretching of the incisions.
- Get up in the middle of the night to take pain meds. This will help avoid waking up in pain and having to wait for the meds to kick in.
- Sip. I asked for some of the medicine cups from the hospital. This helped me to get the size of sips down before trying to sip from a larger cup. My brain was tricky and still thought I could take the same size sips out of larger cups that I did before surgery. Trust me, I couldn't and it was uncomfortable when I took too large of sip
- Do what you can. Drink an ounce of water over an hour. Drink an ounce of protein over an hour. Work your way up until you can get in fluids and protein. I am a week out and can just not get all of my protein in. I get almost the required amount of fluids but I make sure to check that I am not dehydrated.
- Watch your urine. Look at the color every time you go to the bathroom to be sure you're not dehydrated.
- Sleep where it's comfortable. I slept sitting upright on the couch for the first few nights.
- Ice your largest incision area a few times per day. This will help with swelling and pain.
- Set alarms. I had an alarm for when it was time to take meds.
- Set timers. I set a timer when I walked.
- Keep a journal. Scrap pieces of paper work just as well, but write things down. This will help you be consistent and discover any issues you may have and the potential reason behind them (ie: drinking too quickly, taking too large of a gulp).
- Listen to your body. You will know when you take too big of a sip. You will know when you suck in too much air while sipping (yes, it's uncomfortable and painful).
- Don't worry too much about passing gas. It will come. I didn't start burping or farting until a few days after I got home. Yes, it was uncomfortable. There's a lot in you from surgery. The Gas-X will help break down the gas bubbles so that they are easier to pass (no, Gas-X does not eliminate the gas...it still needs to come out). I also didn't poop until a few days out either.
Being a week out, I feel that I am doing really well. I have almost no pain in the incision areas. I only have minimal pain when I stretch too quickly or use the stomach muscles to pull myself up (like getting out of bed, etc). I still have issues with peeing but I am not quite off the Dilaudid yet. I am mobile but just very tired. I can easily take naps all day long. I don’t. When I get exhausted, I will crash out for a little bit, but I don’t want to sleep my days away. Oh, one other thing to mention. While on the Dilaudid and Valium, my focus is not very solid. I love to make greeting cards, but I had a very hard time focusing on them. I am a student as well and had to set timers for me to work on homework and then get up and walk and then go work on cards and then watch tv, etc. I had to be doing something until I fell asleep.
I now am able to sleep in my bed. I sleep on my left side (the largest incision is on my right side) and don’t move much, but it is nice to be able to sleep in bed. Today is the first day I noticed that I could lean my right side against my boyfriend on the couch. I can’t do it for long as it starts to hurt, but it is definitely healing nicely.
This is just the beginning of my journey. Although I have tasty liquids to drink, I look forward to being able to add pureed consistency foods to my diet. One more week of liquids. The surgeon says two weeks off work is the best for recovery, but some go back to work after one week. It depends on the type of job you do. I have a total of 6 weeks off work (short term disability covers this). This will bring me through the pureed consistency food stage and allow for the energy to come back. Plus I needed the break from work.