Your Guide to Returning to Health

The First Day:

You will spend approximately 1 ½ - 2 hours in the recovery room as you slowly wake up after surgery. You will be closely attended by your nurse, who will administer pain and nausea medicine as needed. Due to the amnesic nature of the medications that you get in the operating room, you will likely have little recollection of this period of time.


When you are fully awake, you will be taken to the regular nursing unit. You will still be quite groggy, so if family members wish to visit, it is advised that they wait another few hours. As soon as you are awake enough, the nurses will ensure that you use your incentive spirometer (the breathing machine to help you clear your lungs) and walk in the hall as soon as you are steady on your feet.


It is very important to follow the instructions of the nursing staff – walk and deep breathe as much and as often as you can – as this is an extremely critical time in your recovery!!


Keep the nurses apprised of your pain control so that they may alter medication dosages immediately if necessary. You will have an On-Q, which is a tiny pump that instills pain medication directly into the largest of the incisions. You may ask for extra medication for pain or nausea if you need it, but most folks do not require more at this time. You will remain without eating or drinking anything for the night. You may, however, use wet swabs which are provided by the nurses, to refresh your mouth.


The Day After Surgery:


After spending a vigorous night walking, coughing and deep breathing, you might undergo an X-Ray (this is the Upper GI Study) the following morning. This X- Ray will demonstrate healing of your stomach, but is only necessary in rare instances.


If your kidneys have been working well throughout the night, the nurses will remove your urinary catheter. This is painless.


The day after surgery, you will start taking ice chips by mouth, followed by sips of water, broth and sugar free jello. You may start drinking your protein drinks at this time - please bring your own to the hospital so you have the one that you like. It is important to take small sips only, leaving plenty of time for the fluid to pass through stomach before taking another sip. If you drink too much or too quickly, you may feel very nauseated and vomit. Just take a small sip every couple of minutes with the goal of 1/2 cup per hour and you will get plenty of fluids in throughout the day. Once you are doing well with the drinking, we will unhook the IV and you will be able to take pain medicine by mouth. You may break the pills into small pieces and take them in fragments if you wish. It is still imperative that you continue walking, coughing and deep breathing frequently and vigorously throughout the day. 10 breaths every 30 minutes, with the machine, is the rule for this day. Don't forget to walk every two hours.

The nurses will help you in the shower and afterward, they will remove the staples from your incisions. Special surgical skin glue will be applied to keep the skin closed together. Do not worry if the incisions tend to open slightly –they will heal well and will look just as nice in the end. 


Going Home After Surgery:


Most people go home the evening of the day after surgery! As long as you are walking, coughing, deep breathing and taking enough water, protein, broth and jello by mouth, you will be discharged from the hospital –generally in the middle of the day. You will take your incentive spirometer home with you, as you must continue to use it every day. 10 breaths per hour is the rule, for the next week. Continue to walk as far as you can, every two hours!


 Be sure to check the date and time of your follow-up appointment in the office, generally about a week after your surgery. Remember, too, that you are NOT allowed to drive for two weeks after surgery, so always arrange for transportation to your appointment.



Read on about Care After Surgery