Five tips to help with your hospital stay after surgery

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Having surgery can be stressful, even if you’ve prepared yourself. If you are getting ready to undergo your first surgery, it’s helpful to have an idea of what to expect and how to make the best of your hospital stay.  

Having surgery can be stressful, even if you’ve prepared yourself. If you are getting ready to undergo your first surgery, it’s helpful to have an idea of what to expect and how to make the best of your hospital stay.  

According to Dr. Eric Orr, a general surgeon affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital, patients play an important role in their hospital experience and recovery. “No matter what type of surgery, there are certain things every patient can do to help ensure their hospital stay is as pleasant as possible,” says Dr. Orr. He offers the following five helpful tips:

1. Bring a fully equipped hospital bag.

Having personal items can add comfort to your stay. If using your own pillow might give you a better night’s sleep, bring it. Other items that are useful for a hospital stay include:

Entertainment such as books, magazines or mobile devices 

Chargers with extension cords

Earplugs and an eye mask 

Preferred toiletries such as lotion, soap, shampoo and conditioner

Notebook and pen—these can come in handy to keep track of who comes to your room; conversations with different doctors; and any questions you may have

List of current medications 

2. Be prepared for lots of help. 

Throughout your hospital stay, many members of the care team will visit you. While you might not be used to so much attention, remember that everyone is there to help. Your care team collaborates to ensure that you have the best possible health care experience. 

3. Partner with your health care team.

Recovering from surgery in unfamiliar surroundings can feel overwhelming. Nurses will come in and out to take your vitals; physical therapists will get you moving; and a number of other clinicians may stop by to tend to your other health care needs. Quietness promotes healing, so it is important that staff do their best to manage these visits with the patient in mind. 

Members of your care team all have the same goal: to get you well. It’s important to follow their instructions, as this will help in your recovery process. If you are unclear on something, ask for clarification. Do not take medications unless provided by your care team; your doctor will ensure you receive the proper medications during your hospital stay and that you are sent home with discharge instructions.

4. Don’t be afraid to push your help button.

The nursing staff is there to help you. If there’s something you need, don’t hesitate to call for help. If you need to get out of bed, wait until a nurse is in the room to assist. 

“Our nursing staff will support you throughout your hospital stay,” explains Louise White, chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. “While you may feel able to help yourself, it’s important to remember that anesthesia and other medications can make walking challenging, so it’s always best to wait for a nurse to help.”

5. Enjoy the company of visitors.

Staying in the hospital can feel lonely, and sometimes it helps to see a familiar face and spend time with family and friends. If someone wants to bring you food from home, run it by your nurse to make sure it’s OK for you to eat. Sometimes there are temporary diet restrictions while your body recovers from surgery. Also, ask your nurses about visiting hours, policies and other resources that are available to you during and after your stay.           

This article features experts from Sharp Grossmont Hospital. For more health stories visit www.sharp.com/news.

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