Your Role after Surgery

 

Anesthesia means freedom from pain during surgery.
All anesthesia care is provided with the highest degree of professionalism. Sensitive equipment monitors every important function of your body. In response to your body’s reactions, the nurse anesthetist modifies your anesthetic as needed.

But anesthesia care is not confined just to surgery. The process also refers to activities that take place — before and after — an anesthetic is given. Before anesthesia, a preoperative interview with your nurse anesthetist supplies valuable information that helps determine your care. Open communication and cooperation are essential during the interview.

Communication and cooperation are necessary after surgery as well.
The medications that you have been given can remain in your body for up to 24 hours after their administration. You are not completely “back to your old self” until the anesthetic has been totally eliminated.

Also during this time, it is still possible for substances entering your body to interact with the anesthetic. Certain substances may cause negative reactions. Therefore, check with your care provider about what medications you can take. Continue to cooperate with your nurse anesthetist and physician after surgery. Don’t hesitate to ask questions.

“Don’ts” After Anesthesia

After receiving anesthesia during a surgical procedure, you can play an active role in your recovery by heeding the straightforward list of do’s and don’ts that follows:

  • Don’t drive a car for at least 24 hours. After anesthesia, your reactions and judgment may be impaired. Such impairment makes driving a car dangerous to you and others. It is especially important that you make arrangements for someone else to drive you home from the healthcare facility after your surgery.
  • Don’t operate complex equipment for at least 24 hours. The same logic that applies to driving a car similarly applies to the operation of other equipment. This includes equipment used at home, such as a lawnmower, as well as that used on the job, such as a forklift truck.
  • Don’t make any important decisions or sign any legal documents for the day. The potential for impairment relates not only to physical activities but to your mental state also. Moreover, avoid the anxiety that frequently accompanies making important decisions. The day should be spent resting.
  • Don’t take any medications unless prescribed by or discussed with your physician. Some medications may adversely interact with anesthetic drugs or chemicals remaining in your body. Included are prescription drugs, such as sleeping pills or tranquilizers, and over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin.
  • Don’t drink alcohol for at least 24 hours. Alcohol is also considered a drug, meaning that an alcoholic drink has the potential to negatively react with the anesthetic in your system. This includes hard liquor, beer and wine.

“Do’s” After Anesthesia

  • Do leave the healthcare facility accompanied by a responsible adult. This person will ensure that you travel home safely as well as provide immediate care at home. You should continue to have this adult with you for 24 hours after surgery.
  • Do remain quietly at home for the day and rest. You need rest both because you have received anesthesia and because you have undergone a surgical procedure — even one that is considered minor. If, after a day, you still do not feel recovered, you may want to continue your rest for an additional day or two. Discuss your planned return to work with your physician.
  • Do arrange for someone to care for your small children for the day. Even if given instructions to play peacefully and not overtax you, children sometimes forget such directions or have trouble staying quiet for an entire day. The most predictable course of action is to leave small children and babies in the care of another responsible individual.
  • Do take liquids first and slowly progress to a light meal. Heavy foods can be difficult for your system to digest, thereby increasing the chance for discomfort. For your nourishment, start by taking liquids, then eat light foods, such as broth or soup, crackers or toast, plain rice, Jell-O and yogurt.
  • Do call your nurse anesthetist, your physician or the facility where you were treated if you have any questions. These professionals are interested in your welfare and want your care to go as planned. If you have questions, or feel your recovery is not progressing to your satisfaction, call them.

Remember:
Communication and cooperation are essential to the anesthesia process. Active participation in your care helps ensure your safety and comfort.

“Do’s and Don’ts” After Anesthesia: A Quick Guide

  • Don’t drive a car for at least 24 hours.
  • Don’t operate complex equipment for at least 24 hours.
  • Don’t make any important decisions or sign any legal documents for the day.
  • Don’t take any medications unless prescribed by or discussed with your physician.
  • Don’t drink alcohol for at least 24 hours.
  • Do leave the healthcare facility accompanied by a responsible adult.
  • Do remain quietly at home for the day and rest.
  • Do arrange for someone to care for your small children for the day.
  • Do take liquids first and slowly progress to a light meal.
  • Do call your nurse anesthetist, your physician or the facility where you were treated if you have any questions.

Note: The above information was provided by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists. For more information visit www.aana.com or www.AnesthesiaPatientSafety.com.

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