I have many patients who have had major surgery and are back on their feet within days and back to normal activity within weeks. I have made several recommendations to them that I would like to share with you in this blog.
Your doctor or nurse will probably recommend that you discontinue use of food and fluids at 12:00 midnight before your procedure. The purpose of this recommendation is to empty your stomach so there will be no vomiting of food or fluids during your surgery. Not consuming any food before surgery and for hours after surgery when the anesthetic wears off is like fasting at a time when your body is craving good nutrition. My recommendation is to avoid eating solid food up to six hours before surgery and to drink clear liquids containing electrolytes and carbohydrates such as is found in Gatoraid up to two hours before surgery to aid in your recovery. I suggest you discuss this recommendation with your doctor and the anesthologist who will be putting you to sleep to be sure they are on board with this recommendation.
The use of post operative pain medication and narcotics can slow recovery. These medications lead to decrease in the peristalsis or squeezing of the small and large intestines which can contribute to nausea and constipation if used in excess. These drugs can also lead to dizziness and a dizzy patient may lose their balance and fall and puts the patient at a risk of a hip fracture which may be worse than the surgical procedure they had in the first place. I recommend pain medication be given before surgery and actually during the operation itself. I also recommend the use of acetaminophen during surgery as this decrease the need for pain medication after the procedure.
Finally, get moving. I recommend that my patients start walking as soon as they are taking fluids and have recovered from the anesthetic. Staying in bed is detrimental to the recovery process. Immobility leads to decrease in motility of the gastrointestinal tract and if prolonged can result in deep vein thrombosis which can lead to a fatal pulmonary embolus. Immobility increases the risk of pneumonia. Walking exercises the muscles in the lower extremities, promotes bowel function, and prevents pneumonia.
Bottom Line: Surgery can be a daunting event for even the most sturdy of patients. However, with the advice I have provided you, you can shorten the recovery period and be back on your feet in no time.