Surgery can take more out of you than you would initially think. There is a mental and a physical aspect to it, and depending on the type of surgery, the mental aspect may be a tougher road to navigate.
I have had my share of surgeries/procedures/complications over the past two years, all of which have put me in the hospital or emergency room a total of eight times. Some were easier than others, but all took their toll.
I experienced pain of course; anxiety (never would have guessed that one); nausea (I found out afterwards that they can help with that in advance); mental and physical fatigue; internal bleeding; an inflamed testicle due to a procedure (that one was a toughie); weight loss (not welcomed); loss of strength and stamina; mental stress.
What can you do to prepare for, or minimize these symptoms? In my humble opinion, the first step is to expect them. Sounds simple right? It’s like having a guest come to your home. If you expect them, your house will be clean and tidy, and you will have fresh coffee in the pot awaiting their arrival. If they drop in unannounced, your stress level instantly spikes and well, you can imagine the rest. Preparation helps!
Secondly, I would make sure you are as healthy as possible prior to the surgery. This could include eating right, drinking plenty of water, and exercising/stretching. Actually, I suggest living a healthy lifestyle whether or not you are about to have surgery, but some people choose to live hard. Regardless, having your body in shape for what it is about to go through, including the anesthetic, the surgery (invasive or not), and the recovery (possibly limiting your movement or ability to exercise for a specified period), will help in all these areas.
Third, follow all rules given to you by your healthcare provider prior to the surgery. There may be drugs prescribed to prepare you for a procedure (read all instruction on pill bottle labels and the paper the pharmacist provides). They may instruct you on what to eat or not eat, and when, along with how much water to drink. All those things are told to you for a reason, and that is to make sure the procedure goes as smoothly as possible. Complications only make matters worse. These things can help prevent them.
Then of course, don’t be a knucklehead and try to rush things to soon. You may want to get up and moving, back to work, etc., however, it is important to give your body and mind the time it needs to recuperate. I rushed things a couple of times last year and found that it had a cumulative effect. I got to the point where I couldn’t even hold my head up straight when sitting. I had zero energy. This required over a week of rest to recover, when a couple of days after each procedure would have sufficed.
Lastly, have a good support system. Have someone to help you move around, or just someone to talk to, to tell them how you are feeling. In my case, after a few of my procedures, we knew that I was not going to be able to move very efficiently for a couple of days. My wife made sure some of the furniture was moved around to accommodate for this, and of course, she had my bedside prepared with everything that I would need.
Getting old isn’t for sissies, as my friends and I often say, but really, it is no joking matter. These types of things become a fact of life, and staying ahead of the curve, if at all possible, both physically and mentally is quite helpful in the recovery process.
It starts with the heart!