Knowing what will happen when you wake up after your operation can help you feel less anxious. It also prepares your family and friends for what to expect. How quickly you recover will depend on the type of surgery you’ve had.
Most people will be nursed in an intensive care or high-dependency unit for a few days after their operation. This is routine and doesn’t mean your operation has gone badly or that there are complications. A machine called a ventilator may be used to help you to breathe for a few hours – again, this is routine in some hospitals. You will probably feel quite drowsy and may not remember much about the first day or two after your operation.
The nurses will encourage you to start moving about as soon as possible. This is an important part of your recovery, as it helps to prevent problems such as chest infections or blood clots. If you have to stay in bed, the nurses will encourage you to do regular leg movements and deep breathing exercises. A nurse or a physiotherapist can help you do the exercises.
The ward staff will help you during this time as you may need help to wash and go to the toilet. Once you are moving about more freely, you’ll probably be able to manage this for yourself.
If you’re in an enhanced recovery programme or have had laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery, your nurse will encourage you to get out of bed and start moving around as soon as possible.