Your Role in Recovery

Whether you are going home the same day as your visit or procedure or are staying overnight in the hospital, you and your caregivers play an important role in making sure your recovery is quick, complete and free of unnecessary complications.

Pain is common after main types of procedures. Most pain can be greatly relieved or eased with proper pain management. If you are in pain at any time during your stay, speak up. If pain starts or persists after you go home, call your physician. Our healthcare team can offer advice, strategies and medications to minimize your pain and discomfort.

Visits and help from friends and family can relieve stress and lift your spirits. Spending time with loved ones is important for both your emotional and physical well-being. But remember, rest and relaxation are necessary for your recovery too. Accept visitors and offers of help, but be sure to leave enough time to rest and recuperate.

If you had surgery, be sure you understand how to care for your wound. Specific instructions will depend on the procedure you had. Your physician or nurse will teach you how to properly care for your wound during your stay and at the time of discharge. Remember to wash your hands and have others wash their hands before and after caring for your wound. Call your physician or nurse immediately if you notice any signs of infection, such as redness and pain near the surgical site, drainage or fever.

If your procedure or medical treatment required sedation or anesthesia, coughing and deep breathing exercises can help clear your lungs and prevent pneumonia. Your nurse in the recovery room (post anesthesia care unit) will review these techniques with you, and may give you a spirometer, a breathing tool to help you take deep breaths. You should continue these exercises up to a few weeks following your procedure.

You should begin a light-to-moderate exercise regimen as soon as your physician gives you permission to do so. Different movements and exercises will be helpful for certain procedures and medical conditions. Speak to your physician, nurse or other healthcare providers to choose the exercises that are right for you. Follow their instructions and don't over do it. It is important to exercise the correct way.

Your diet affects your body's ability to heal. Your dietary needs or restrictions will depend on your particular health condition. Talk to your physician or nutritionist about which foods you might need to avoid, and which will be most beneficial to your recovery. Follow the instructions carefully.

Many symptoms are common after a complex medical treatment or a surgical procedure. Below are things you may experience during your stay or in the weeks following your discharge from the hospital:

  • Nausea: Medications used during or taken after surgery (like antibiotics or pain relievers) or prescribed to treat a variety of medical conditions can cause nausea in some patients. If you feel nauseous, tell your nurse or call your physician. There are many medications and techniques that can be used to ease nausea.
  • Slight Fever: Having a slight fever is common after surgery and can be associated with many health conditions. If you are in the hospital, you nurse will monitor your temperature. However, if you are feeling flush or feverish once you are home, take your temperature. If your temperature is above 101, you could have an infection and should call your healthcare provider immediately.
  • Mild pain or discomfort: Mild pain or discomfort is often a natural part of the healing and recovery process. If you had surgery, you may experience sharp pains, itchiness or soreness near the incision or treatment area. Give yourself some time to heal. If your pain or discomfort gets worse, tell your nurse or call your physician.

Call your physician, nurse or a member of the patient care team on your unit immediately if you experience:

  • Fever above 101
  • Pus or unusual drainage near an incision area
  • Loss of appetite
  • Severe pain or discomfort
  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bloody or very dark bowel movements
  • A tear in your incision
  • Severe headache
  • Unexplained leg pain

Before you leave the hospital, make sure you schedule a follow-up visit with your healthcare provider. During this visit, your physician will check your recovery progress and ask questions about your general health. Use this time to ask questions about any symptoms you may be experiencing and to discuss your continuing care needs.