Why am I still tired after waking up from operation?

When you sleep in your bed at night, that sleep is natural. Your entire body rests and gathers new strength so that you can be alert when you wake up in the morning. But when you sleep during operation, it’s an artificial sleep induced by the use of drugs. These drugs shut down your body and consciousness, but your body doesn’t rest like it does when you sleep at night. The drugs you’re given during your operation will remain in your body for a while and cause you to feel sluggish and tired even though the operation is over. It also takes a while for your brain to wake up after you’ve been put to sleep artificially.

Why is my throat sore, and why am I coughing after my operation?

You may sometimes need help with your breathing when you’re asleep during your operation. This involves giving you air through a thin plastic tube placed in your throat. When you wake up after your operation, your voice may sound strange and it may feel as though you have a sore throat or are getting a cold. What’s happened is that the plastic tube has compressed your throat slightly and scraped its lining. You may sometimes have a sore throat and cough for a few days after your operation. It’s nothing dangerous, and it’ll pass. Drinking or eating something cold might help to soothe your throat.

Why am I not allowed to start eating and drinking straight after my operation?

It takes a while for the anaesthetic to leave your body, so lots of parts of your body are a little bit tired after your operation. If you eat or drink anything straight away, it might go down the wrong way or make you feel a bit sick. Your body isn’t awake enough to do such ordinary things yet. Wait a couple of hours! If your stomach was operated on, you may also have to hold off on eating and drinking for a little while as your intestines will need to rest for a bit. When the hospital staff think you’re ready, you can try drinking a little bit initially. If that goes well you can carry on with something that you don’t need to chew, like yoghurt or soup.

Why am I in pain?

Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something is wrong – it’s a warning signal. If your pain system didn’t work, you could injure yourself seriously because you wouldn’t notice any damage being done to your body. Pain after an operation works slightly differently. In that case, the pain isn’t a warning signal – it’s a reaction to the fact that your body has been operated on. Say if you start to feel pain, so that you can be given pain relief. It is also important for you to move around. Your body forms its own substances to eliminate pain when you move around, and this will help to relieve your pain.

Will I be in pain after my operation?

Yes, you’ll probably experience a little pain after your operation. The pain may vary at different times of the day, and you may find it hurts more when you move. You may sometimes be in pain even when you’re sleeping or relaxing. Everybody at the hospital will help you to reduce your pain in different ways. And if you’re in pain, it’s also important for you to remember that it’s not forever. There’ll be less and less pain as time passes after your operation, and in the end there’ll be no pain at all.

How will the people at the hospital know whether I’m in pain after my operation, and how much pain will I be in?

You know best where the pain is and how much pain there is. That’s why it’s important for you always to tell someone if you’re in pain, where the pain is, how it feels and whether it changes. Everyone working at the hospital is trained to tell whether you’re in pain and will ask you whether you’re in pain, where the pain is and how much pain you’re in. You’ll be asked to tell them how much pain you’re in on a scale of 1 to 10. It’s important for you to speak up straight away if you start to experience pain, even if the staff look as though they’re under stress. It’s easier to overcome pain if you deal with it early on. And putting up with pain isn’t big, and it’s not clever. It’s simply unnecessary!

Will I be given pain relief?

After your operation, you’ll be given drugs that will reduce your pain until you feel okay. This drug is administered directly through the thin plastic tube in your blood vessel, using a drip tube or using a device known as a drug pump. You may also be asked to swallow a tablet or be given a spoonful of liquid medicine. It may often take a little while to start to feel better, but it’s important for you to speak up if you think it’s taking too long or if you’re in too much pain.

Why do I have to take drugs even though I’m not in pain?

It’s a good idea to keep drug levels in your body consistent at all times so that your pain relief drug can help you as effectively as possible. This will prevent your pain levels rising and falling like a rollercoaster. It’s important for you to take your drugs at the prescribed times even though you’re not in any particular pain – this ensures that the levels of drugs in your body never fall too low.

Is there anything I can do to reduce my own pain?

There certainly is! You can keep your brain busy by concentrating on something else, closing your eyes, thinking of something fun or something you like doing. Play games, chat or watch videos – anything is good for reducing the pain. Also try to change your position in the bed, and try placing a pillow under an arm or leg or behind your back. If your throat was operated on, you might enjoy drinking or eating something cold or sucking on an ice cube. After an operation, it’s also important for you to move around as soon as possible. Your body forms its own “medicine” to eliminate pain when you move around, and this will help to relieve your pain. When you’re in pain, it’s also important for you to remember that it’s not forever. There’ll be less and less pain as time passes after your operation, and in the end there’ll be no pain at all.

How do local anaesthetics work?

There are nerves in your body that tell your brain that something is painful. These nerves feel nothing when they’re numbed with a local anaesthetic. You might feel a slight tingling, pricking sensation in your skin, or in the area that’s been anaesthetised. It might sometimes feel as though your skin has gone to sleep. The numbing cream applied to your skin before you’re given an injection is a kind of local anaesthetic.

What does an epidural feel like?

An epidural involves inserting a thin tube in your back. The tube is inserted while you’re asleep, so you won’t feel anything at all. This tube is soft and thin, and you can lie however you like in the bed. When drugs are administered via this thin tube, different parts of your body are anaesthetised so that you’re in less pain. You won’t notice when you need to pee when you have an epidural, so you’ll have a thin tube inserted to empty your bladder at the same time. This tube might make you feel as though you need to pee the whole time, but it just feels like that. The pee runs out into the tube and down into a bag. The epidural may sometimes cause your legs to feel heavy, or you might not feel them at all. This isn’t dangerous, and the sensation will subside when you’re no longer under anaesthesia.

Will I feel sick after my operation?

Maybe. Some people might feel a bit sick after an operation. You might end up feeling sick for all kinds of different reasons. Some people are more prone to feeling sick than others, and feeling sick is more common after some operations than others. If you’re in pain or are hungry, this can also cause nausea. The risk of you feeling sick is slightly greater if you suffer from travel sickness. That’s why it’s a good idea to tell somebody that you suffer from travel sickness before you have your operation. If you’ve had a general anaesthetic for an operation before and felt sick then, there’s every chance it’ll happen again. Tell the staff the situation so that they can give you drugs that will help stop you feeling sick.

Unfortunately, some of the drugs that you need to reduce pain may sometimes cause you to feel sick. Luckily, there are drugs that eliminate the nausea caused by other drugs. Don’t ever hesitate to tell somebody that you’re in pain just because you’re afraid a drug will make you feel sick – the staff will help you out! Just as with pain, it’s important for you to speak up straight away if you start to feel sick. Taking drugs straight away will stop you feeling sick before you start to feel really bad.

How long should dressings, bandages and plaster be left in place?

Dressings, bandages and plaster should be left in place for varying amounts of time depending on which operation you’ve had. The staff will tell you what to do before you leave the hospital after your operation.

When can I shower after my operation?

If you have a dressing or bandage that can withstand water, you can shower whenever you like. But if you have a dressing or bandage that can’t withstand water, you’ll need to protect it with a plastic bag so as not to get it wet. Showering when you’re wearing a bandage might be a bit difficult, but ask the staff for tips on how to shower.

What should I do with the stitches?

Some stitches will disappear on their own, while others have to be removed by a nurse at the hospital or clinic. The staff will tell you which kind of stitches you have before you leave the hospital after your operation and let you know how and when they should be removed.

When can I start exercising again?

You can join gym class and start exercising when you feel your strength is almost equivalent to what it was before your operation. This might not take long, but sometimes it will take longer. When you start exercising, it’s important for you to start off carefully and gradually increase your exercise levels when you feel your body is coping and doing well. It may take a little while before you’re fully fit again, depending on how you feel. But there’s always something you could be doing! You might sometimes be given exercises to do in order to strengthen your body. These may seem repetitive and a bit pathetic, but do them anyway! The idea is for them to get muscles and other parts of your body moving in a way that’s good for them. Remember, you can always ask the staff for advice before you leave the hospital after your operation, or later on if you’re not sure what the best way is to exercise.

Why is my wound itching while it heals?

Lots of things are going on in your body while your wound is healing. The old skin has to disappear and fresh new skin has to emerge. There are sensory cells in your skin that are easily irritated by all the things that are going on while your wound is healing, and that causes the itching.

What’s a scab?

If you have a wound, the blood will congeal and form a little scab on top of it. This scab acts as a kind of dressing and makes sure that no bacteria can get into the body. The body heals the wound beneath this scab and builds up new skin. The scab will drop off when the wound is healed.

Will I end up with ugly scarring?

The body starts to make new skin when it heals. The body can’t repair the wound and make the skin look exactly the same as it did before, especially not if the wound is large and deep. This will leave a scar, but it will pale over time. You can also get a special scar cream to apply that will make the scar as neat as possible.