Make sure you feel confident that you know what to expect when you leave hospital, and how to care for yourself over the coming days and weeks. Just like before you went to hospital make it a priority to have a healthy lifestyle and reach out to your doctor if you have any questions or symptoms you are worried about.
Eat as well as you can
Just after your procedure you may have little or no appetite, you may be experiencing nausea or other pain or discomfort, but try to eat as well as you can—choose the foods you enjoy and that you think you can tolerate.
When you’re feeling better and your appetite is back, you can focus more on changes to your diet that your doctor or dietitian recommends.
Tips to keep your nutrients up
- Tell your doctor or nurse if you are experiencing pain or nausea—pain relief or nausea medicine may help improve your appetite too.
- Try to drink small amounts of water regularly, starting when you wake up in the morning.
- Sit in an upright position when you eat.
Move around as soon as you can
Moving and being active helps improve circulation and blood flow which will help you heal and recover more quickly.
Take a little extra care
Depending on the procedure you had and the medicine you’re taking, you may be at increased risk of a fall.
- Take your medicines as prescribed, but let your doctor know if you feel dizzy, confused or experience other side effects.
- Keep your glucose levels under control if you have diabetes.
- Don’t walk around barefoot or in socks—wear comfortable shoes that fit well and have rubber soles.
- Wipe up any spills right away.
- Ensure your house has been ‘fall-proofed’.
- Eat enough healthy and nutritious food to keep your strength up and your blood sugar levels stable.
- Take care to drink enough water – even if you don’t feel very thirsty.
Don’t suffer in silence
Don’t wait for pain to become unbearable before you take pain relief medicines–this will make it harder to manage. Regular pain relief can help prevent pain from getting worse. Follow your doctor’s advice, and speak up if you have concerns.
Red flags to watch for
When you leave hospital, you or your carer and close family members should be on the lookout for the warning signs for each condition you have—not just the one you’ve just been treated for. Ask your doctor if you are not sure about the signs for any of the conditions you have.
Be sure to watch for signs of infection:
- Fever (temperature over 38°C)
- Swelling, redness, tenderness near your wound
- Anything oozing from your wound
- Shaking or chills
- Rapid breathing
- Mental confusion
- Dizziness or feeling faint or light-headed
- Pain when you wee or blood in your urine.
Contact your doctor (or emergency department) if you experience any of the above symptoms.
Look after your mental wellbeing
Recovering from surgery can be a tough transition. Keep an eye out for symptoms of depression and anxiety and talk to your GP or another member of your healthcare team who you trust if you spot any.
Common symptoms of depression may include:
- Lack of motivation
- Feeling flat, depressed or empty inside
- Negative thinking
- Changes to sleep
- Feeling extremely tired
- Changes to appetite
- Withdrawing from people and activities you used to enjoy
- Feeling helpless or hopeless.
Common symptoms of anxiety may include:
- Hot and cold flushes
- Racing heart
- Nausea or butterflies in the stomach
- Tightening and pain in the chest
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive worrying
- Obsessive thinking
- Compulsive behaviour
- Sweating or shaking.
Getting back into the swing of things
Start slow but stick with it. Try to stick to your regular routine to the degree that you can—for example, get up at the same time you normally would and get dressed—and try to be active in your house. Take it slow and ease your way back into more and more activities. Don’t worry if you feel tired doing things that used to be easy—this is a normal part of recovery—just stop and rest when you need to.
Continue your healthy lifestyle: Eating well, being active as soon as you’re able to and not smoking will all help you recover more quickly. While you’re off work, make an effort not to lay around or sleep in, as tempting as it may be. Try to spend time with people you care about and plan something you enjoy each day to keep you motivated.
Stay connected: Emotional support is crucial for your overall health and wellbeing—and it can help you stay motivated through your recovery. Make it a priority to connect with friends and family during your recovery.
Keep your GP in the loop: See your GP regularly to monitor whether your treatment is as effective as it should be, and identify any complications before they become serious. Make sure your GP is aware of any new medicines you’ve been prescribed at hospital and any lifestyle changes you’ve started. Tell your GP about any new symptoms since your last visit.