When you first wake up after your surgery you could be in one of two possible places. The first may be a small ward where you will have your own nurse: this is called (IUC) or in some cases you may have been taken back to the surgical ward where you started.
You will have several pipes and drains connected to you. Depending upon the surgery you have had, they may differ, but the most common are listed below.
– There intention is to decompress or drain either fluid or air from the area of surgery and will normally be attached to a measuring device on the side of your bed be left in for 3 – 4 days post surgery.
Urinary Catheter – A urinary catheter is any tube system placed in the body to drain and collect urine from the bladder this will be attached to a measuring device on the side of your bed and will normally be removed when you are mobile or when there is no further need to measure your fluid output.
IV Drip – Fluids are given during surgery to counter the loss of fluid during the operation. After surgery, you may continue to have a drip if you are dehydrated or have limited oral intake, so fluids are continued until you have stabilized.
Nasogastric tube (NG Tube) – Is a tube that is passed through the nose and down through the nasopharynx and esophagus into the stomach, which is used to decompress the stomach and remove air / fluids to help avoid you being sick.
Epidural – The epidural is an injection that numbs the lower half of your body. This includes your abdomen (stomach), pelvic area and legs and is your main pain control, this will normally be removed after 4 – 5 days if you still require pain control you may be given Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) where you will press a button if you have pain.
DVT Cuffs – Although deep vein thrombosis can develop after any major surgery, people who have had surgery on the lower parts of there body are especially vulnerable, the DVT Cuffs are similar to the blood pressure cuffs but are attached to the lower part of each leg and expand and contract on there own.
Oxygen – Post surgery you will normally be given oxygen therapy via a mask this is known to aid recovery and prevent hypoxia and also help with wound healing and nausea.
All of the above items will gradually be removed over 3 – 5 days post surgery as you recover and become more stable.
You will also find attached to your abdomen a bag over the newly formed stoma. Once you have recovered, and at home, you will be able to use an opaque stoma bag but initially in the hospital this bag will be clear so that the nursing staff can see and monitor the output from your stoma.
You will also have a surgical wound from the bottom of your rib cage about 9 inches long where your abdomen was opened this will normally be stapled with a dressing over it, the staples will normally be removed after 10 -12 days.
After a short period of time the stoma will start to work, initially the output from it will be dark and very watery and seem to be continually but over time this will thicken and you will soon see a patten as at certain times of the day it will be less active than at others.
During the first few days the nursing staff will empty and change the stoma bag for you.
For the first few days after surgery you will continue to receive pain medication through your IV or Epidural. You will not receive any food until the doctors hear the bowel sounds from your abdomen that indicates your intestines are “waking up.” At this time you will be given some clear liquids to eat such as broth and juice. If the clear fluids are tolerated well, your doctor will let the staff know that your diet can progress to full liquids or solid food.
Your nurses or the physiotherapists may get you out of bed and standing or sitting in a chair a few days after surgery, depending on your condition. Standing and walking as soon as possible is very important to the recovery process, even though it will be uncomfortable at first.
Your Stoma nurse will visit you several times before you are discharged from the hospital to show you how to care for and change your stoma bag, cut the template and measure your stoma so that your bag fits correctly, as during the first few months your stoma will change in size and shape.