Significant medical advances in surgery have led to many advantages for today’s patients. Gone are the days of long hospital stays and recovery times. With less invasive procedures patients are experiencing less pain and getting back to normal at a faster pace. But feeling great after surgery can in some instances, lead to the exact opposite – a longer recovery time. The patient feels great, over does it and has a setback. That is why it is so important to follow post-operative instructions to have a positive recovery experience. With more than $300 billion in extra healthcare costs wasted in the U.S. each year, it’s best to listen to the doctor. Trust us, when it comes to our patients’ recovery, we have their best interests at heart.
I see it all the time, my patient will nod in agreement as I give post-op instructions, leave the surgical center or hospital, and promptly forget what I said or ignore it all together. If you are having surgery soon, take a moment to read the following six tips for a better recovery. You’ll thank yourself, and maybe your doctor too!
- Get moving. I’ll say this with the caveat of making sure you listen to your body and know when enough is enough. Getting up and moving around a few times a day is important to your body’s recovery
- Eat well. You may not have an appetite even days after surgery, but putting the right fuel into your body will enhance your recovery time. Lean proteins, fiber and foods rich in Vitamin C, B12 and iron will help with your energy levels.
- Enlist a helper. Surgery is a major event, and it’s best to have a family member or friend you can ‘deputize’ to help you through. I recommend having someone with you before, during and after surgery so he or she can hear the physician’s instructions too and fill in any gaps you may have forgotten.
- Take advantage of recommended time off. Feeling great can make you think you can resume normal activities such as going back to work earlier than recommended.
- Don’t drive too soon. Once again, it’s easy to get ahead of yourself and think you can do more than you should. Your reaction times may be slow due to the medications you’re on, so it’s in your best interest, and everyone else on the road, to avoid driving during recovery.
- Listen to your physical therapist. As important as listening to your doctor is listening to your physical therapist. Physical therapy can help you regain your strength and mobility and skipping it will only set you back.
The essential point is this, ignoring post-operative instructions can only lead to longer recovery time and potentially additional health issues along the way. The fastest way to getting back to normal is to listen to your doctor, make sure you understand his or her instructions and follow them as best as you can. You will be glad you did.