I am a procrastinator of note sometimes. Like the last time I had a laparoscopy it was on a Wednesday and on the weekend before I had no idea what I was in for. Maybe I was just distracting myself from the actual seriousness op the operation and my usual anxiety when it comes to hospitals- heaven knows.
But this time around I am prepared.
Anyway- I figured since this is my second time around and I got some super cool advice the last time after surgery, I would take some time writing a quick blog on some tips and tricks I picked up.
Before the surgery.
1.) Go to Dischem:
When I realized I was going to need to pick up a few things for my recovery, I made a list and headed out to Dischem on Saturday like a woman on a serious mission. And it felt good. It felt like I was doing my post op self a favour, because I was. “Don’t worry, future recovering-from-surgery H, I’ll take care of you!” It was very nice of me. And recovering H will be very thankful. Things I picked up included: a cold/heat pack, easy-on-the-stomach foods, ginger ale, extra big high-waisted disposable undies, and throat sweets.
I knew I was going to be spending the day in hospital, so I packed a few extra things to get me through theday. But here’s what I packed: comfy yoga pants, a zip-up sweater, a comfy t-shirt, undies that are either very low-rise or very high-waisted (let’s see how I feel post op tomorrow. Lol!), throat sweets, pads, power bank, Twisp and two good books.
A few things you’ll likely need to do to be ready for surgery day: stop taking blood thinners (like ibuprofen and asprin) a few days before surgery, stop taking most of your normal daily meds the day before, stop eating or drinking past midnight, remove all nail polish, and avoid all make-up, lotions, and jewelry on the morning of surgery.
4.) Find prayer warriors.
Whether it’s your family, your coworkers, your friends, or your favorite online support group, find people to pray for you, especially while you’re under. This will put you at more ease going into the surgery; it certainly did for me the last time I went in.
5.) Eat your favorite meal/dessert.
Treat yourself! This might be a morbid way to think, but I basically thought of it as a last meal… or I guess a probably-not-but-maybe-possibly last meal. So I racked my brain and decided a boerewors roll was exactly what I wanted. My husband and dad made it happen and I will say, it was a delightful last treat before surgery.
Another night-before-surgery tip – find something that will help you relax! For me, it is writing, it distracts me and doesn’t require a lot of effort to do. Perhaps yoga or some form of exercise is your form of relaxation. Do it! Think about your favorite relaxation trick and make it happen. It’ll take your mind off of surgery and hopefully make sleep come easily.
1.) Prepare to be…
Anxious. Nervous. Interviewed by a million nurses and doctors. Half-naked all day. Hungry. Poked by needles and IVs. Confused by medical mumbo jumbo. Silly on anesthesia drugs. Scared. Cold. Then strangely calm. Asleep. Seemingly minutes later: awake. Groggy. Sleepy. Sore. Drugged up. Wheeled around. Relieved. Waited on hand and foot.
1.) Tools to use.
Alright. Now it’s time to dive in and talk about all of those handy surgery recovery tools I mentioned above. Though you may find other items more useful, each one of these were go-tos for me and if I were to go through this again, they’d be at my side the whole way, again.
Cold/heat pack – Dischem sells these packs as a 2-in-1, both cold and heat in the same gel pack, and only for a few bucks.
Throat sweets – During surgery, you’ll have a breathing tube down your throat. When you awake, it’s already out, but the throat can still be a little dry from it being previously in there. It’s really not a horrible pain, but the throat sweets will do just the trick for your slightly dry, scratchy throat.
Pads – Have some extra pads around because you will bleed for about a week after surgery. Probably nothing heavy, but constant.
Squishy pillow – It was most helpful in the car the last time, acting as a bumper between my new incisions and the seatbelt, but I would also use it on my belly when I was just laying in bed or relaxing on the couch. It created a great buffer between the fresh scars and the rest of the world and was especially great as a place to rest my lap top.
Extra big high-waist undies OR very low-rise undies – I went with the high-waisted undies. The main goal here is to wear undies that avoid the incisions. Although you’re not likely to have trouble with them, it’s still nice not to have an underwear line irritating them all the time.
Yoga pants and baggy shirt – The same goes for the yoga pants and shirt. You want clothes that won’t irritate those scars. The yoga pants should sit low or high and the baggy shirt will help things to breathe. Just make sure you don’t mind getting a little blood on the shirt because it may happen. Your incisions are closed, for sure, but they’re known to bleed a little here and there.
Zip-up sweater – Grab your favorite sweater that zips up the front since you probably won’t want to have to put your hands above your head and go through the supreme effort of putting a hoodie on while you’re fresh outta surgery.
2.) Eat light.
Your appetite won’t quite be the same, definitely right after surgery, but also in the days following. So make sure you have some easy-to-digest foods stocked up at home.
3.) Relax some more.
Recovery time can vary from half a week to two weeks, so whatever amount of time it is you’ll need, make sure you allow yourself pleeeenty of relaxation time. And don’t feel guilty about it! Not one bit! Watch your favorite movies and shows, read books and magazines and blogs, knit a sweater, call friends, listen to music, and sleep bunches too. This is the only time you get to recover, so milk it for all it’s worth! And listen to your body. It’ll know when you’re ready to go back to the every day grind. I was feeling pretty much recovered by 5 days post-op, but I stayed out of work one extra day last time just to be sure I wasn’t pushing it. I recommend that for you too!
4.) Move around.
Ok, so you definitely want to relax a bunch, as I stressed above, but you also can’t be afraid to move. In fact, one of the best things you can do for your recovery is move around a bit every day. A friend of mine recommended getting up and walking around a little every time you have to take your meds. It’ll keep you on a regular schedule of movement and get things flowing around inside like normal again. The last thing you want to do is come home from surgery and crawl into a ball. This will only delay recovery. So give yourself tasks everyday (like walk around the house, go to the mailbox, shower) and soon you’ll find yourself feeling back to normal again.
Oh, the dreaded gas! Yes, it’s true. You will experience gas pain with your laparoscopy recovery. But why so much? Well, they pump your abdomen full of gas to be able to see inside and get in there with their medical instruments. So after the surgery is over, you’ll still have a bunch of that gas left in you. Even more interesting is you’ll feel the gas in your shoulders. Weird, right? What’s it doing up there? My doctor explained it to me like this: Your diaphragm is in your abdomen, near where all this extra gas is sitting. Since your diaphragm can’t feel pain like other parts of your body, it instead refers the pain to other parts that can, namely your shoulder. Hence the icky shoulder pain. As I recommended before – heat packs will be your best friend for the gas pains. Lying flat on your back will also help. And now you know why it’s up there in your shoulder.
Going under was and still is probably my biggest fear in this whole process. My sweet doctor comes to the rescue once again. He said, “You can’t get into your car these days for those odds,” meaning you’d be more likely to die in a car crash that day than die of an anesthesia complication. A morbid way to think, but definitely reassuring. Also, if you’ve never had serious medical issues (diabetes, heart conditions, obesity), you’re really at a low, low risk. Hearing all of this made me feel a lot better and will also hopefully help you with your nerves too.
Ok, well, this post was a lot longer than I thought it would be. Call me comprehensive because I think I covered everything.
If you’ve already gone through this procedure and feel like I’ve left out anything major, please feel free to add on in the comments on Facebook. Let’s make this as comprehensive as possible!
Most of all, I hope this is helpful! If you’re about to go through a laparoscopy or other surgery and you’ve just read through this, please know that I’m wishing the absolute best for you.