Over the last couple of weeks, I have learned a few things. Gentle readers, I know you are always on a quest for knowledge, so I will share the highlights.
• If you need to have surgery, schedule it first thing in the morning. Since my surgery was not an emergency sort of thing, I had a fair amount of flexibility in scheduling. They wanted me to have it done in August but that would have meant missing two obedience seminars, a five-day cluster show seven miles from my house and a three-day cluster show with amazing shopping. So that wasn’t going to happen.
I scheduled for mid-September. I had a 2:30 p.m. time slot. All fine and good except when you factor in no food or drink after midnight. That’s left a lot of time the day of surgery for sitting around hungry and thirsty. Plus when you schedule first thing in the morning, you don’t run the risk of having previously scheduled surgeries taking longer than expected, thus pushing yours back. This happened and my 2:30 p.m. turned into 3:30 p.m. What's another hour of being starved and dehydrated?
• If you have multiple meds to take after surgery, it helps to write down which drug you’re supposed to take and when you’re supposed to take it. Then check it off when you take it. Seriously. I thought I could remember but more than once, the concept of counting forward six hours from 1 p.m. and remembering it at 7 p.m. was more than my anesthesia- and narcotic-fuzzed brain could handle.
• Always take ibuprofen with food.
• Ice cream is food.
• Pain makes your heart beat faster. Lower the pain, lower the heart rate.
• Ask for specifics. When I was discharged from the hospital, my doctor only said “If it hurts, don’t do it.” The problem was that what felt fine on Wednesday had the potential to hurt like hell on Thursday.
• Take a notebook to doctor appointments so you can write things down. It’s amazing how easy it is forget the simplest answer when you have a lot your mind. I even took one to the hospital and kept it on the bedside table. I’ve spent the last 25 years writing down what other people say, why stop now?
• You only get once chance to heal right.
• Nurses are amazing. I don’t know what they get paid but it’s not enough. Appreciate them.
• Steri-strips need to stay on for one week after surgery. Mine were apparently applied with cement. When I peeled them off on Day 10 (with permission), they took a layer of skin with.
• Gals, if you are having a female kind of surgery that might result in bleeding afterward, take your own lady things to the hospital so you'll have what you're comfortable with. After being repeatedly assured by my surgeon and nurses that I would experience “occasional spotting,” I was handed a pad that could have soaked up Lake Michigan. Seriously?
• Before going to the hospital, I made several of my favorite salads, thinking it would be great to have some tasty things to enjoy when I came home. I don’t know if it was the anesthesia or what, but food didn’t taste right for about the first week. Nothing but toast tasted very good and I ended up throwing out most of my pre-prepared food.
• It’s helpful if you can get any prescriptions filled in advance so you don’t have to mess with an additional stop on the way home from the hospital. My doctor wouldn’t do this (not sure why, I think some will, some won't) so the Farmer went into our local pharmacy on the way home while I sat in the van. In reality, it didn’t take that long but it sure seemed like an eternity while I was waiting.
• Stool softeners + apple cider + grapes = sprint to the bathroom. You have been warned.
• Give yourself permission to do nothing after surgery. I’m one of those people who is always doing something – working, gardening, training, cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, teaching a class, helping at a trial, etc. I’m really lousy at doing nothing.
Realize that while healing after surgery, the last thing you need is to feel guilty about going back to bed for a nap after breakfast or watching a Harry Potter movie marathon while your co-workers/significant other are working their butts off, doing their jobs and covering for you. Too bad. They didn’t just have their bodies cut into and their guts re-arranged. Make your health your number one priority.