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You have now had your surgery. This part of the guide has more information about your care while in hospital, including:
After your surgery, we will take you to the
Post-Anesthetic Care Unit (PACU). It is also called the Recovery Room. This room has other patients and may be busy and noisy.
Your nurse checks your pulse and blood pressure often. You may have an oxygen mask that covers your nose and mouth. The nurse calls you by your first name as you wake up and may show you how to do deep breathing and coughing exercises. A member of the operating room team will update your family.
Everyone experiences pain differently after surgery. It is important to tell your nurse if you are having pain.
This page provides more information about how we help you manage your pain and how you can also help yourself.
How long you stay in PACU depends on the care you need, your health and how you recover from the anesthetic. When your condition is stable, we will take you to the nursing unit.
What happens when I leave PACU and go to the inpatient nursing unit?
While you are on the nursing unit, a team of health care professionals will look after you. You may see different team members depending on your needs.
Your opinion is very important to us. We want you to be as comfortable as possible. Please talk to a member of your health care team about your plan of care each day, or about any questions or concerns you may have.
Taking part in my care: bedside shift report
At shift change, nurses share important information about your care in your room as one nurse is handing over your care to another nurse. This is a time for you to learn more about your plan of care and share important concerns you may have with your nurse. You are encouraged to ask any questions or share your concerns before the shift report begins or ends.
If needed, you will have an intravenous (IV) line in your hand or arm. This is to give you fluids and medications until you are drinking well.
We know that we are not always able to meet the personal food choices of all our patients. We understand that a familiar food brought from home may give you comfort during your hospital stay. Before bringing food from home, talk with your nurse or dietitian first about the kinds of foods that you will be able to have after your surgery.
A member of your health care team will see you every day. If at any time you want to speak with your surgeon or another member of the health care team, please let your nurse know.
The health care team will tell you how you are doing and answer your questions. We check your vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, breathing rate and pain score) throughout your hospital stay.
You may have blood tests and diagnostics tests such as
ultrasounds after your surgery.
You may need blood tests done every day to monitor a special condition (such as blood sugar levels).
It is important for you to know as much as possible about the medications you will be taking after your surgery, including:
When you are ready to leave for your place of residence, we will give you a prescription for any new medications. The nurse or pharmacist will review your medications with you.
Review our videos on pain management:
My Surgery Guide: Pain Management - [Part 1 of 2]
My Surgery Guide: Pain Management - [Part 2 of 2]
Everyone experiences pain and discomfort differently after surgery. At UHN, we take a holistic (whole body) approach to treating your pain. Our goal is to make sure that you have as little pain as possible after your surgery.
It is important to manage your pain because it means you will have less stress on your body. It will:
Managing your pain early helps you to return to your everyday activities much sooner.
At UHN, we use a number scale to measure your pain. We will often ask you to "rate" your pain, when you are moving and when you are resting, using a scale of 0 to 10.
You can use words like
mild, moderate or severe to describe your pain. You can also describe the type of pain you are having. For example, words like sharp, achy and throbbing may help the staff understand and treat your pain better.
Many members of the health care team can help you manage your pain, including a UHN team of specially trained nurse practitioners and anesthesiologists called the
Acute Pain Service (APS). Also, your Essential Care Partner can help you to be as comfortable as possible after your surgery. Talk about your pain with everyone involved in your care. Your health care team will help you find what works best to manage with your pain.
Review our video on exercises for after your surgery:
My Surgery Guide: Deep Breathing & Coughing Exercises
You may feel sleepy, and have nausea or be sick to your stomach after your surgery. You may also feel stiff and sore.
These exercises will help you recover from your surgery. Your health care team will let you know if you need to do these exercises once every hour.
Some of these exercises may be uncomfortable for you. Talk to your nurse about managing your pain before starting. This will help you to do these exercises.
1. Breathing with an incentive spirometer 10 times
Depending on your surgery and medical history, an incentive spirometer may help you to breathe in as deeply as possible. Breathing deeply helps your lungs work better.
2. Deep breathing exercises 10 times
These exercises help to clear mucus and keep your lungs well expanded.
3. Splinted cough 3 times
4. Ankle pumping 10 times
It is important to keep the blood moving in your legs. Depending on your surgery, ankle pumping will help prevent blood clots in your veins.
5. Leg slides 5-10 times
Depending on your surgery, you may learn how to do leg slides during your Pre-Admission visit.
You will be able to do more and more activities as time passes, like walking and sitting in a chair for longer periods. Remember that some days you will feel better than others.
You can expect to get up and walk the day of your surgery with help from your nurse or physiotherapist. Each day, we will assess your activity level and help you become more independent.
Handwashing is a simple way in which you can help yourself after surgery.
Washing your hands well and often during your stay in hospital can help you stay safe by removing germs from your hands before they can make you sick.
Rub hand sanitizer between fingers and over both sides of your hands for 15 seconds.
After your surgery, you will have an incision (the cut from your surgery) that has been closed with staples or stitches. Your nurse or surgeon may check your incision every day.
Your health care team will show you how to care for your incision before your discharge.
Watch for these symptoms. If you have any of these, call your health care team right away:
Follow these instructions:
Depending on your surgery, we will decide whether to remove your staples or stitches before you leave the hospital. If you leave with staples still in place, we may give you a staple remover and your family doctor or staff at a walk-in clinic can remove them. If you have questions, ask your nurse or surgeon.
Check your skin every day. If you think you are getting skin breakdown, talk to your health care team.
Your skin protects you from infection. You need to protect your skin to protect yourself.
The following sections provide answers on how to take care of your skin.
A pressure ulcer is an area of skin that has been damaged because of pressure from a surface (like a mattress or chair).
You can get a pressure ulcer when this pressure stays for long periods of time over a bony area like your elbow, heel, hips or tailbone.
Your skin may have different colours at first such as red, purple or blue. The colour does not go away when pressure is removed. This is an important sign from your body that something is causing too much pressure over this area. More skin damage will happen if this pressure continues.
These red, purple or blue areas may become open ulcers, involving your muscles, tendons and bones.
There are many reasons that increase the chances of your skin breaking down and leading to pressure ulcers:
Have your caregiver look at your skin, paying special attention to areas you can't see or feel well, such as your back, bottom, hips, legs and feet. Watch for any rashes, redness, or open areas.
Skin care tips
Healthy eating tips
Activity and exercise tips
Keeping active speeds up your recovery and prevents other health problems.
It is important for your recovery to get as much sleep and rest as you can after surgery. Have several rest periods during the day.
It is common not to sleep well after surgery. Your sleep will improve as you recover. If you find it hard to sleep at night or you have strange dreams, please let your health care team know, or call your family doctor. Your medications might need to be changed.