Physician consulting with patient in hospital shortly before surgery

Surgery: What to bring – What to expect

Millions of Americans undergo surgery each year. Depending on the nature of your operation, you may be released to go home the same day, or you may need a short hospital stay. If you do have to stay for a couple of days, there are things you can do to make your stay a little more comfortable.

Bailey Watson, manager of Patient Care at OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony’s Health Center, offered some advice on what to bring and what to expect should you have to stay in the hospital for a couple of days following your surgery.

“First, bring a list of the medications you take at home. You won’t be allowed to take your home medications from your supply. However, the hospital will provide you with all your needed medications as prescribed by your doctors,” Bailey said.

It is also important to tell the hospital staff if you have any allergies to foods, environmental factors, medicines or latex, and how you react.

What to expect

patient in a recovery room speaking with physician and nurse.Immediately following your surgery, you will go to a recovery room where nurses will watch you until your anesthesia wears off.

“For a short time following your surgery, we will be checking on you quite often to ensure you recover well from the anesthesia, and your surgical site is okay,” Bailey said. “And depending on your surgery, you might be at risk for falls, which means we will need to assist you if you need to get out of bed.”

Bailey also warns that you might be put on a diet restriction because of swallowing issues due to the anesthesia. As your situation stabilizes, the swallowing restriction will be lifted. But, your diet restrictions may remain if you have other health issues. The restrictions will depend on your existing health issues.

You will not be allowed to leave the floor. However, your visitors can bring your meals as long as they adhere to the diet restrictions issued by your care team.

As you improve, your care team will come in less frequently to take your vitals, check your IV and monitor your general condition. During the waking hours, these checks are as often as every hour. In addition, your surgeon or other care team provider will make daily stops to check on your condition and answer any questions you may have.

“Depending on the type of surgery you have, a physical therapist may perform a consult and even start your physical therapy while you are still in the hospital,” Bailey said. “And your physician might request more imaging after surgery to check the success of the operation.”

OSF HealthCare does not allow tobacco usage or vaping at our facilities. Please leave all forms of tobacco and vaping products at home.

“It’s recommended that you don’t smoke before and immediately following a surgical procedure. Tobacco can cause complications with general anesthesia and affect your body’s ability to heal,” Bailey said. “Plus, it is a perfect time to quit. Your body will thank you.”

As far as comfort

Teddy bear in a bed

Spending a couple of days in the hospital can make you antsy, but you don’t have to be uncomfortable.

“The hospital does supply the basic toiletries, but feel free to bring your toothbrush, soap or preferred shampoo,” Bailey said. “We do ask that you do not bring perfumes or spray scents as this could aggravate yours or other patients breathing.”

Bailey recommended bringing the following comfort items:

  • Blanket
  • Cane or walker
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Hand-held game system
  • Magazines and books
  • Music player
  • Pillow
  • Slippers with nonskid soles
  • Snacks that adhere to your diet restrictions

“You are more than welcome to bring comfort items, but we do advise against bringing valuables,” Bailey said. “While we can lock up valuables, we suggest those are sent home.

“We want your stay to be as stress-free as possible, so it’s important you’re comfortable. Please bring the little things that will make your stay enjoyable.”

To learn more about pre- and post-surgery recommendations, visit the OSF Health Library. Surgery and hospital recovery can be stressful, but knowledge is power. You can temper your experience by being informed and prepared.

Last Updated: May 31, 2024

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About Author: David Pruitt

David Pruitt is a writer for the Marketing & Communications division of OSF HealthCare. He has a bachelor’s of journalism from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and worked as a reporter before joining OSF HealthCare in 2014.

An avid golfer and fisherman, David was born and raised Alton, Illinois, which is where he currently resides with his son, James.

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