"How do I know something is wrong?"
Many times after a procedure a nurse or the performing surgeon will come by and tell you what symptoms to look out for over the next 24 hours and over the course of recovery. Problem is, most times post procedure, we are overwhelmed, completely loopy or barely awake. So all the valuable info that was given to us might as well have been tossed into the closest garbage can. I see people post questions all the time about "is this pain normal after my procedure?" and "when should I be worried about my symptoms after surgery?". All these questions are valid, and the answers to them are even more vital. If patients are expected to have the best recovery outcomes post procedure, they need all the info on what to expect, what are considered normal symptoms, and when symptoms are more concerning and warrant medical assistance.
So to help those who had the brain fog post procedure and couldn't remember anything anyone said to them afterwards, as well as the loving family members that were so overwhelmed by the process they couldn't remember anything either, I'm here to help. I'll be going over what to expect immediately post procedure, as well as normal symptoms and expectations, and what symptoms are serious and will require immediate medical attention.
*Also, write yourself a note that before you are discharged you make sure to get: 1)Phone numbers of the physicians office, hotline for after hours (if something occurs in the middle of the night or on the weekend), as well as closest urgent care and ER; a Doctor's note if you need one for your workplace, and if they have any printouts or pamphlets about post procedure recovery information.
Immediately following post procedure, the patient should expect:
- No driving for the next 24 hours and anytime you take narcotic pain medication. So yes, you will need a driver after the procedure to get you home safely.
- Drink lots of water (not all at once) to flush out the dye that may have been used during your procedure, as well as to re-hydrate since you haven't been able to eat or drink for quite some time.
- Make sure to look at the area where the puncture or surgical incision is prior to your discharge (take a picture if you can so that you can use it to compare with later if you have questions). If there is a bandage that covers the area ask the nurse to take a picture with your phone/camera prior to the bandage being placed. Once it's on they may tell you not to take it off or change it for up to 24 hours.
- You should be able to start eating and drinking about 4-6 hours post procedure. Take it slow, you may feel tempted to gorge yourself from feelings of starvation but take it easy. Try a half sandwich and a glass of fluids (water/milk). then after an hour or two, eat the other half or make a small plate. After that as long as everything seems alright, eat as you normally would.
- Expect some tenderness at the puncture site or incision site for a few days. Keep the areas clean and dry. There may be some slight pinkness at the site, but if the pink area starts to increase keep an eye on it (we'll discuss more later).
- REST! It's safe to say that yes you should get up as soon as you feel able, but it's okay to rest as soon as you get home. The more you rest means the more energy you'll have later or the next day to get up and start moving around (which is vital for your recovery!).
- Refrain from heavy lifting for at least 24 hours post procedure. Light dishes and folding laundry are okay, but lifting the heavy basket of laundry is not. Your physician may have more rules about lifting and activity. If you are unsure it's always a good idea to call first before attempting the unknown.
Normal symptoms after the procedure can include:
-Tenderness or soreness at the puncture site or surgical site like stated above for several days is normal.
-Bruising-a small amount at the site is okay and normal, as long as it is NOT actively bleeding.
Symptoms that require immediate medical attention:
-Excruciating or unrelenting pain is not a normal symptom. Although pain is very subjective and varies person to person depending on their tolerance level, you should not be in so much pain that you cannot walk or move.
-If you find that the puncture/surgical site starts bleeding, lay flat, use a clean piece of gauze or towel and place pressure directly on the site. Call yourself or have a loved one call the physician who performed the procedure. If the bleeding isn't stopping or the area becomes very swollen very quickly call 911.
-If you start feeling numbness/tingling or your leg that had the procedure starts turning blue or discolored, notify the physician who performed the procedure right away.
-If the skin area around your puncture or surgical site starts becoming increasingly dark pink/redder (pink/redness area becomes larger), starts to swell and become hot (remember that picture you were supposed to take before discharge-use that to help you compare), if you notice yellow or green discharge coming from the site, or you start having a fever go to the hospital right away. Those could be signs that you have an infection and will need antibiotics!
I hope this information helps everyone out there and that you can feel a little more at ease if you forget what to look out for after your procedure.
*If you are ever in doubt it's best to call the performing physician, or if you suspect you will need medical assistance to call 911. This information should not replace the advice of a medical professional or the professionals who are aware of your medical situation.