Recovering from surgery: What you should know

Even when the result will make life better, going in for surgery is not something anyone looks forward to. It's one of those experiences you hope to "get through" and then never worry about again.

There are so many variables when you go in for surgery but there are a few things you can know and do to make the process easier.

Know what you're getting into beforehand

Even for people who don't like to know all the medical details, it's important to at least have an overview of what the doctor is doing and why they are doing it. Having a grasp on the basics of the procedure will help you understand the risks and what is happening during the healing process. Knowing more about your procedure will also put you in a better position to know if something isn't quite right afterwards.

What to expect

Make sure you have a clear understanding of what to expect in the days and weeks following surgery. Get the details on pain management, rehabilitation, and returning to regular activities.

Your recovery time might be faster or slower than the projection that your doctor gives you, but knowing what will come as part of that recovery will help you with your recovery goals. See if your doctor can give you smaller recovery goals so you can keep track of your progress.

Going home

There will be a lot of details to remember when it's time to go home. You'll probably get a packet detailing the instructions, but if not, make sure you ask! Sometimes the excitement to go home can make it difficult to remember all the things the doctor said to do. Also, ask a friend or family member to take notes for you. A second set of ears could catch something you might miss.

Leave no question unanswered

Be sure to talk to your medical team about any questions you have before and after your surgery. Rest assured, you're not the first patient who has had a list of questions or concerns, and you certainly won't be the last. With medical care, you don't want to find yourself guessing, so make sure if a question comes up, you ask.

Also, make sure you get your hospital's 24-hour help line. It will have nurses available to answer questions day or night.

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