Recovery room (PACU)
When your surgery is done, the anesthesiologist will wake you up. When you are breathing on your own, you will be taken to the recovery room. Most patients stay there one to two hours. When the care team decides you are ready, you will be taken to your inpatient room on a stretcher. The volunteers in the Day of Surgery waiting room will tell your family your room number so they can join you there.
The surgeon will talk with your family to give them an update after surgery.
Your inpatient room will most likely be in Roy J. Carver Pavilion (Elevator F, Level 2). It can take more than two hours to get to a room if the hospital is full and other patients need to be discharged to make room for new patients. While most rooms are private, we cannot guarantee that you will have a private room, and you may have to share a room. Your family will be helped to your room once your nurse checks you in.
When you are in your room:
- The nurses will greet you and help you move into your bed.
- You may have a small tube in your bladder called a Foley catheter. We measure how much urine you are making and how well your kidneys are working.
- You will have an IV in your arm to give you fluid.
- You may need insulin to help lower your blood sugars even if you are not diabetic. Blood sugars can be elevated around the time of surgery (body stress response). We need to treat this in order to lower your risk of infection.
- You will get to drink clear liquids.
- We limit the amount on the day of surgery so you do not overdo it.
- The care team will take your temperature, pulse, and blood pressure.
- You may be given oxygen.
While you are on the inpatient unit, you will:
- Get a blood thinner shot each day to help prevent blood clots
- Get an incentive spirometer. It is a device to help you breathe deeply and keep your lungs open. You should use it 10 times an hour when you are awake.
- Most of your home medicines will be restarted. Some of your diabetes and blood pressure medications may not be given for several days.
- The nurses will get you up and out of bed one or two times that afternoon and evening, depending on what time you get to your room.
Comfort control after surgery
Keeping you comfortable is an important part of your recovery. Your nurse will start asking about you comfort level when you get to your room. They will use a scale, such as:
- Zero (no pain) to 10 (the worst pain you can imagine)
- Minor, moderate, or severe pain:
- Minor pain: The discomfort makes it hard to concentrate
- Moderate pain: Constant discomfort that makes it hard to sleep and relax
- Severe pain: It hurts to take a deep breath; you cannot stand, walk, sleep, or concentrate.
You need to be able to:
- Take deep breaths
Remember, pain is normal after surgery. People have different amounts of pain after the same surgery. The surgery team has a lot of experience treating pain and will do their best to keep you comfortable.
There will be pain medicine ordered for you during your hospital stay. There are many types of pain medicines we can give you.
You may be given Tylenol on a regular schedule while you are in the hospital. It does not have many side effects and it lessens the amount of narcotic pain medicine you will need. It is important you take it as scheduled.
Non-steriodal anti-inflammatory (NSAID)
These are medicines, such as ibuprofen, celecoxib, or Toradol (an IV medicine). They work a little differently than Tylenol, which is why they work well together. They also help lessen the amount of narcotic pain medicine you will need.
They have a few more side effects, so the surgery team will decide if they are right for you.
If they are not scheduled, you can ask for them when you have moderate pain.
Comfort control after surgery
These are medicines like morphine, Dilaudid, hydrocodone, and oxycodone. They come in IV and pill form. They work differently than Tylenol and NSAIDs. They work well to relieve pain when taken with Tylenol and NSAIDs.
They have more side effects but are usually needed the first few days to two weeks after surgery. They can:
- Make you dizzy
- Make you confused
- Put you at a higher risk of falling
- Slow down how quickly you pass gas and stool
The surgery team will make sure your doses are safe based on your age and other medical conditions. It is best to not take narcotics if you are able to rest, take deep breaths, walk, visit with family and friends, watch TV, and have mild to moderate pain.
There are ways to cope with pain other than taking medicine. Try:
- Changing your position
- A heat or cold pack
- Listening to music
Your nurse can help with these also.
If you have chronic pain or take narcotics often, we will work with our pain specialists to make you an individualized plan to keep you comfortable.
It is important to keep these goals in mind while you recover from surgery:
- Able to take a deep breath
- Able to sit and walk
- Able to rest and nap
- Able to talk with family and friends, watch TV, or read