Many people will go through some surgery at some point in their lives when diagnosed with a Chronic Illness, be it moderate or severe. Sometimes they have a strong support network at home and sometimes they don’t, and it’s important to concentrate on what you can do for yourself to help you through the recovery process after surgery.
So we all have things that are important to us including bills, personal hygiene, our furry friends and housework etc however i feel that what we really need to focus on is the little things for example; fluid intake, being comfortable, having enough medication to last you through the week, snacks or food and making sure you have someone who can come and check on you every so often to help with dishes or change bedding. Not everyone has someone that can check on them, so it’s important to make sure that if that person is you, that you have a plan of care with doctors or nurses for you returning home. District nurses (also known as community nurses, who work along side GP’s) help with wound aftercare, monitor your wellbeing, give required injections, help you wash/dress and assess your health on a daily basis to ensure everything is going the way it should, also known as continuing care.
The biggest part when recovering is that it is you who is adapting to life again physically and mentally from surgery, not anyone else, and so you have to put your needs first and slowly build up your independence. In order to do this it’s important to start slow and not over do it as you want to ensure you don’t make yourself more stressed or in more pain than can be helped, you must also make sure that the people around you are patient with this. You also become more hidden into your own shell during the process at times and that’s OK, but do keep in contact with friends or family and don’t let your social life disappear. It’s so important to keep your life before surgery intact to now as big changes in your social life have some less beneficial affects on your mental health which can lead to struggling with daily life. This slow process is about making many small changes rather than one big one, which makes a bigger more positive difference! Routine is a great way to start for example; 9am take x medication, 10am shower, 1pm have something to eat and so forth, it really helps you focus on the the little things that are most important to be done to help you through the day.
Finding something new to do like a new hobby can help take your mind off of things and gives you something to focus on rather than sitting being bored or worrying about things. Many people decide to watch something new on NETFLIX, YouTube, DisneyLife or on TV, many decide to buy a new book and read it within a few days, i’ve even witnessed some patients study for degrees or courses online whilst in hospital! I took up gaming after my first major surgery in 2015 on the Xbox One and from there i played loads of free to play games, then i moved onto playing PC Games and as i got stronger every day i then went onto walking with the dogs. So it went from sitting being unable to move very much to gaining independence and being able to enjoy life outside. This isn’t how it is for everyone though, so you should remember that every recovery is very person dependant and isn’t the same for everyone. You will go through phases of down periods and highs, feeling all types of emotions and it can be overwhelming which is completely normal! Don’t shut yourself down or let anyone else put you down because one day you feel so sad that you don’t want to get out of bed or eat, tomorrow is another day to pick yourself up and find something positive from this hard situation.
Now some of the important medical stuff (yawn i know!, make a cup of tea to accompany you!) Feeling tired after surgery is completely normal and having a low appetite due to General Anesthetic so you should only do what you feel you can and leave it at that. (If the washing pile is sky high, leave it for another day!) Your doctor’s and surgeons always ask that you do try to move a little each day to increase blood flow and this is because more blood flow promotes more healing for wounds and strengthens your muscles. It is also important to have movement daily to reduce the chances of a blood clot which can very nasty! Please click here for information on blood clots, from the NHS website (which is the best place to go for online advice, unless you wish to call 111 for urgent advice.) Many patients can suffer from Depression and Anxiety after surgery too, you can do some things to help your symptoms however seeking medical help is crucial such as visiting your GP. Sometimes after surgery things can happen such as infection, weight loss or anemia, which too can be treated appropriately by visiting your GP or A+E.
It can be hard to find any positives from a difficult situation that you didn’t ask for or want to be in, sometimes you feel fed up and alone. It is really hard to think there can be any positives at all, but not all good things are lost from life at this point. I found little things such as a cup of tea the greatest part of my day! Being able to catch up on social media or helping others going through similar in support groups felt like my purpose. I was able to watch that Netflix show i always wanted to watch and even though (even now after recent surgery) that i can’t walk anywhere, going out in the car Pokemon hunting with a bacon sandwich is fantastic!
I really hope this may benefit you or someone you know who has or is awaiting surgery.
-Lots of love and healing vibes, Alannah.