It is understandable that you want to get back to your normal life as quickly as possible after surgery. However, it is also essential that you follow your doctor’s post-surgical advice to avoid delaying your recovery or even needing to have the surgery all over again.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make after surgery is trying to do too much too soon. Whether this includes going back to work right away, driving, working out, or not eating in moderation, the consequences can be significant. Your doctor gives you post-surgical restrictions with your long-term recovery in mind. You will need to ease back into your everyday activities and possibly make permanent modifications to your diet. Here are some other common post-surgical mistakes that can delay your recovery:
Staying in bed too long
At the opposite end of the spectrum from people who overdo it too quickly are those who feel afraid to do anything at all. They stay in bed all day instead of gradually working up to more movement and taking on more of their usual responsibilities. This can be just as dangerous because it increases the risk of blood clots, muscle wasting, pulmonary embolisms, pressure ulcers, and constipation. After an adequate period of rest after surgery, movement is an essential aspect of recovery.
Not eating or drinking enough
You might not feel like eating or drinking if you feel nauseous or constipated after surgery. However, try to take in at least some nourishment. Fluids help to keep you hydrated while food delivers energy to your muscles and cells. It can slow your recovery when you do not get enough of either.
Not following doctors’ orders regarding prescription medication
Some people stop taking their required medication before finishing it because they start to feel better. Unfortunately, this can cause symptoms and pain to return. Others fear they may become addicted to it or do not care for the side effects that it produces. We encourage you to speak to your doctor or surgeon if you have any of these concerns. While you do not want to be on medication indefinitely, going off it too soon can set you back in recovery.
Giving into pressure to return to work before you are ready
Perhaps you are getting messages from your boss or co-workers that the company is falling apart in your absence. You feel guilty for taking several weeks away from work and go back sooner than your doctor recommends. Another possibility is that you are self-employed and do not have any income coming in while you recover from surgery. While money concerns are certainly understandable, going back to work before your body is ready could end up costing you more. You could need additional treatment or end up being out of work longer than expected because you tried to take on more than your body could handle.
Do not follow through with physical therapy
If you only had a minor surgery, you may be able to get by with just a few physical therapy sessions in the hospital. However, major surgery such as knee replacement requires several weeks or months of physical therapy as your body learns to adjust to a new normal. Patients often make the mistake of thinking they do not need the ongoing sessions or fail to schedule them because they are too busy. Regardless of the: reason, skipping out on physical therapy means it can take much longer than you expected to return to normal after surgery.
Not doing breathing exercises at home
Some surgeries, including those performed on the spine, heart, lungs, or belly require you to complete breathing exercises for a while afterward so your lungs can recover from the effects of the anesthesia. Since anesthesia dulls the sensation of pain during surgery, it would be impossible for you to get through the procedure without it. The breathing exercises your doctor gives you later are to help clear mucus from your lungs as well as expand their size. You should not quit doing these exercises until your doctor gives you the okay.
Resume driving too soon
Because we value independence so strongly in this country, it can make you feel like a burden to others to have to ask for rides. It might also feel like taking public transportation is too inconvenient. Even so, remind yourself that it is only for a short time to help you recover from surgery as quickly as possible. Following your doctor’s orders means that you will soon have the freedom that driving brings you. Trying to drive too soon after surgery could be inviting an accident since your reaction times are slower.
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