Your Recovery from Surgery: Self-Help Tips
During Your Hospital Stay
You will still be sleepy when you are taken to your room. A quiet, dimly lit room helps you to rest, which helps your pain medicine work better. Our goal is to help you reach a tolerable level of pain control. Even with pain medicine, you CAN expect to have some pain after surgery. Use your call light to ask your nurse for pain medicine.
Your nurse will ask you to rate your pain level on a scale of 0 to 10. By using the scale below, your pain can be more effectively managed.
Before surgery you need to decide your goal for pain control. This will be a level or number on the pain scale. Few people are able to meet a goal of “0.” Just as each person is different, each person’s response to pain is also different. You will need to tell your nurse when your pain level is higher than your goal. We encourage you to ask for your pain medicine so that it will be easier for you to turn in bed, walk, sit in a chair and do your deep breathing exercises. Severe pain can keep you from doing these activities.
Your nurse will work with you to make a plan to manage pain. Medication is only one part of pain control. Pain can also be relieved by changing position, massage, walking, deep breathing, daydreaming about pleasant things and listening to music. Pain medications can often cause nausea and itching. Tell your nurse if these occur. These side effects can be treated. You may not reach your comfort level “goal.” Working together, we will make every effort to keep you as comfortable as possible while maintaining your safety.
Your doctor may put a gauze roll in the vagina to control bleeding.* The gauze causes pressure in the vagina, rectum, and bladder. This pressure may make you feel like you need to urinate or have a bowel movement. This gauze roll is usually removed the day after surgery.
(* This is not applicable for breast surgery pateints.)
Getting Your Medicine
The doctor will order all medications and tell how they are to be given. Ask questions about the medications you receive. You should become familiar with the name of the medication, the reason you are taking the medication and its possible side effects. You may receive medication in one or more of the following ways:
- Patient-Controlled Analgesia (PCA) Pump: A pump with pain medication is attached to your IV line. A certain amount of medicine is given when you push the button. It is very important that your family knows that only you should push the PCA button.
- Intravenous Medication: The nurse prepares the medication in a syringe and gives it through your IV. Not all medication can be given this way.
- Intramuscular Injection: The nurse prepares the medication in a syringe with a needle and injects it into a muscle (usually in the hip).
- Mouth: Pills are given by mouth. Your nurse must give you all medications while you are in the hospital. DO NOT take your own “home” medications during your hospital stay.
Wash your hands before and after you touch your incision. Clean your genital area after you go to the bathroom by wiping from front to back. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom.