Your Initial Recovery
Immediately following your surgery, you will be moved to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) in a bed that you will use during your hospital stay. You will stay in the PACU for several hours until you recover from the anesthesia. Nurses will be checking your blood pressure and pulse frequently. You will be attached to a monitor that records your heart rate. You will still have the IV in your arm giving you fluids. If you are in pain, let your nurse know immediately. Ask for pain medication when the pain is mild – don’t wait for pain to become severe and let the nurse know how well the pain medication is working.
Everyone experiences pain in a different manner after surgery. Several things that help relieve the discomforts are positioning yourself in a different manner, performing simple relaxation exercises and remembering to request your pain medication. When you are in the hospital there are a few ways in which medication can be administered. Your surgeon and anesthesiologist will decide what is best.
If you have been prescribed injections, be sure to tell your nurse as soon as the pain starts. Your pain is easier to control if you do not allow it to become severe before taking a pain medication. Keep in mind that getting your pain medication administered may take some time since this is one of many tasks nurses perform, so do not wait until it gets too hard to tolerate. Please discuss the best schedule for you with your nurse.
A day or two after your surgery, you will be switched to a pain medication given by mouth. By this time, your surgical pain will be less severe and you will be able to progress with various activities more readily. Oral pain medication helps patients resume daily activities with a minimum amount of discomfort.
Several times a day your nurse will question you about your level of pain. You will be asked to rate how much pain you have based on the Pain Scale below -
REMEMBER: The key to pain management is to stay in control through the use of proper medication. Speak with your nurse and doctors about how you can work together to stay one step ahead of the pain. Pain creeps up quickly - so please be proactive, work with your treatment staff, have your family help you remember when you last took medication, and don't try to be a hero thinking you can do this without help. Don't let pain get the better of you. When you manage the pain correctly, you can recover more quickly and easily from your surgery.
Please remember that no one will be totally pain free and everyone experiences pain differently with tolerances varying greatly from person to person. Our pain management goal is to keep you comfortable and at the same time be able to participate in your rehabilitation.
St. Vincent's Medicial Center: Surgical expertise when you need it most.
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