When you wake up after surgery you will probably feel quite drowsy. You may not remember much about the first couple of hours after you wake up. A nurse will take your blood pressure regularly. Depending on the type of operation, you may have some tubes attached to your body. If you had a small operation, you may not have any tubes at all.
You may have some of the following, but not everyone will need all of these:
- A drip (intravenous infusion) to give you fluids until you are eating and drinking normally.
- A tube (drain) in your wound to drain extra fluid into a small bottle. This is usually removed after a few days.
- A small tube (catheter) in your bladder that drains urine into a collection bag. It is usually removed when you start walking around.
- A tube going up the nose and into the stomach (naso-gastric tube) to remove fluid from the stomach until the bowel starts working again.
You may have some pain after surgery, but this will be controlled with painkillers. You may have painkillers:
- as tablets
- as injections
- through a tube into a vein in your hand or arm (cannula), which is connected to a pump
- as a continuous dose into the spinal fluid through a fine tube and a pump (epidural).
The pain control you need will depend on the type of operation you’ve had. Always let the nurse know if you are still in pain.
Painkillers occasionally make it difficult to have a bowel motion (constipation). If your bowels aren’t moving, let your nurses know. They can give you medicines to help them move more regularly.
After an APR, it may be uncomfortable to sit down. This will improve as the wound heals.
After your operation, you’ll be encouraged to start moving around as soon as possible. Even if you have to stay in bed, it’s important to do regular leg movements and deep-breathing exercises. A physiotherapist or nurse will explain these exercises to you.
To reduce the risk of blood clots, you will wear special stockings. You may also be given injections under the skin of a drug (heparin) that prevents blood clots.
Feeling sick or being sick
The nurse will give you anti-sickness (anti-emetic) injections or drugs to control any sickness. If you still feel sick, tell the nurse looking after you.
Your wounds may be closed with stitches, clips or staples. They are usually removed after you go home by a practice nurse at your GP surgery. Some surgeons use dissolving stitches that don’t need to be removed.
Sometimes your surgeon may use a flap of tissue to close the wound, instead of stitches or clips. This is more likely if you have already had radiotherapy. If your doctors used a flap of tissue to close your wound, you will need to lie on your side for 3 to 4 days after your operation. This reduces pressure on your wound and helps it heal.
You will be able to sit on your bottom for five minutes at first.
As things improve, you slowly increase this amount of time.
Your doctor will give you advice about how often to change position when sitting.
You may be given antibiotics to help prevent any wound infection. While you are in hospital and after you go home, tell your nurse or doctor straight away if your wound:
- becomes hot
- becomes painful
- leaks any fluids.