How to Recover….

The unknown that we stumble into when the provider tells us that we have PCS is still extremely vast. Not many doctors know what it is, and of those who have heard of it, even less are convinced it’s an actual diagnosis. (This of course is a different post in which I could rant for hours about.) Without medical providers to lean on during this time we turn to the internet; to forums and support groups and to our faith to make it from one day to the next.

I would like to submit my two cents on the topic of recovery to the Google Library of PCS. So without any more babbling, here it is:

How to Recover From a Procedure.

Plan.

I know this seems like a no brainer now, but when you’re caught up in the chaos of the pain and the doctor says “…..surgery…..” we tend to go into soldier mode. Well, panicked soldier mode, and just jump in.  Don’t do that.

You only get one chance to recover from this procedure (I’m going to say this a lot…) so you want to do it right. Get all of the details from the surgeon on recovery time, as well as what your limitations will be while healing. Then do some research online to find out what real life patients are saying about the recovery. Look for trends and try not to get overwhelmed or freaked out by the extreme posts.

There is always going to be that patient or two who writes that this was the worst thing they ever did and they will pay for it for the rest of their life. Remember; they are the minority here. Every procedure, no matter the complexity has a percentage that doesn’t come out great but that doesn’t mean you are going to be that patient. Don’t go there. Just don’t.

Once you have a general idea of how long it will take to recover you can get to planning the details. Make sure you have a care provider lined up to be with you after your procedure so that you don’t have to do things for yourself. Make sure you spouse (if applicable) takes ample amount of time off work; it’s easier for them to go back early if you heal up quickly rather than have to take more time off because you underestimated your needs.

If you have kids, make sure you’ve lined up care for them on the day of the procedure and the immediate days to follow. If you have a spouse this will their domain, if you don’t you’ll need someone to watch after your kids until you are off restrictions.  Remember that you don’t have to take the first open slot for the procedure. Schedule your surgery date when these accommodations are possible.

Plan a menu of the foods you’ll want post op. If you’ll have a specific diet you’ll want to plan for that, otherwise just make sure you have your favorites. I personally like popsicles post procedure but make sure I have healthy stuff to promote a good heal. Work up a menu for the family with meals your spouse or helper can fix for you and the kids (if applicable) so that you aren’t having to cook.

Prepare your recovery space.

Make sure you have a space carved out for yourself for post op healing. Stock up on pillows and blankets for comfort as well as heating pads and ice packs. Make sure you have activities within reach so you won’t need to go hunting once you get home. Think movies or TV show series you enjoy watching, coloring books and notepads with crayons and other writing utensils. Books and magazines are a good way to keep your mind engaged without having to move about. If you like to knit or do other seated projects now is a good time to get yourself a new one, and splurge a little you deserve it!

Stock up on bandages if you’ll need to change dressings, and make sure you have over the counter (OTC) pain relievers at the ready for when you move off of your narcotic pain medications. Also make sure that you have appropriate clothing to wear during recovery. Items should be loose and comfortable, not too tight or clingy since that might cause more discomfort.

Another really important thing to have nearby is your cell phone and your providers contact information for both office hours and after hour emergencies. This also comes in handy for staying in touch with friends and family via text or social media.

Set your expectations.

Perhaps one of the most important thing to do is to set reasonable expectations for your healing. It’s really easy to get frustrated with the slow going process of recovery. Don’t worry about what other people’s recoveries look like, only focus on yours. Just because your sister’s husband’s cousin healed up from her Hysterectomy in two days does not mean that is common or that you should feel pressured to do so. Take it easy on yourself.  You only get to heal once.

Almost as important as setting your own expectations is the expectations of others. Make sure your spouse is on the same page as you are when it comes to recovery. They need to understand, and support, your healing and not rush you to get back on your feet.  If you have kids, explain to them in an age appropriate manner what you’re going to do and how you’ll need to rest for a long time after.

Once your household understands what this recovery will look like take a look at your calendar. If there are any events hosted by family and friends let them know you won’t be able to attend, or if you do it will be for a very short amount of time. This is a bit tricky because some people will get it, and others will take it personally that you have to miss their party. This is not your problem; it’s theirs. Please do not let others pressure you into doing too much too soon. All together now: you only get to heal once.

The last thing I would say is to follow your provider’s instructions. Even if you feel like you’re doing better than you thought, or the restrictions are too much. In this situation the surgeon has more experience than you and it’s better to say you did everything you were told, than to have a complication down the road that could have been prevented if you had complied with the doctor’s instructions.

Surgery is never fun, and what’s worse is the recovery afterwards. Remind yourself that you chose this procedure because it stood a pretty good chance of relieving the pain you’ve been dealing with. If you’re not going to put your recovery first post op there really isn’t a point in having the surgery to begin with. It may seem slow and tedious, but the end goal is what’s important here, and the easier you are on your body while you’re healing the quicker you will get back on your feet. I promise.

You only get to heal once.

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