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Going Home After Surgery

Before you leave the hospital, your nurse will review your medication and discharge instructions with you and your family. Included will be an activity sheet for your proposed plan of care.

Post Surgery for Most Patients

  • Take it easy for the rest of the day.
  • Don’t drive or operate any dangerous machinery.
  • Don’t do things that require you to think and act quickly or to work carefully. For example, avoid cooking, sewing, or operating machinery or electric appliances. Get help with child care.
  • Don’t drink alcoholic beverages.
  • Take medicines only as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Don’t make important decisions or sign legal papers today.

Food and Drink

  • You should eat lightly. A diminished appetite is normal. When you feel ready and your doctor’s orders allow, you may return to a regular diet.
  • Start out slowly, since nausea and vomiting sometimes occur after anesthesia.
  • Start with clear fluids, water, or clear juice, and then advance gradually to your regular diet.
  • Have something in your stomach, such as toast or crackers, when taking your pain medications.

Activity and Discomfort

Except for specific restrictions on activity ordered by your doctor, you are the best judge of how much activity you can handle. A good general rule: If it hurts too much, don’t do it.

  • You should expect some discomfort. The amount you experience will depend mostly on the type of surgery you have had.
  • In some cases your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Motrin (ibuprofen) for pain relief.
  • If your discomfort is not relieved by the prescribed pain medication or you are having side effects from the medication, call your surgeon.

When to Call the Doctor

At home, call your doctor if you experience any of the following problems:

  • Temperature of 101 degrees F or higher and/or chills.
  • Difficulty urinating, or inability to urinate.
  • Nausea and vomiting that last more than 24 hours.
  • Worsening pain not relieved by pain medicine.
  • Increased swelling around an incision.
  • Redness that is spreading around an incision.
  • Bright red blood, or foul-smelling discharge coming from a wound.
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