I’ve had abdominal surgery twice, once per child. I paid close attention to my instructions; though I was more obedient to them the second time around and had a much easier recovery for doing so. Here are a few things to ask your doctor about.
Breathing: You’d think this wouldn’t be a necessary topic, but after abdominal surgery, breathing, coughing, sneezing and laughing can cause pain. Many patients will take multiple small breaths over any deep breathing. That’s a prescription for pneumonia, so try to breathe as normally as possible. If they give you a device to “practice” deep breathing, use it. It really does help.
Chores: Sweeping, vacuuming and other actions that involve side to side rotation of the abdomen are usually a bad idea. So is changing sheets, weeding the garden and so on. Let the dust bunnies multiply until given the all clear.
Driving: There are two very good reasons to avoid driving, at least the first couple of weeks post surgery. First, you use your abdomen more in driving than you might think. Second, most of the time you’ll be on strong pain killers. Even if you have them legally, you can still be arrested for driving under the influence of them.
Exercise: You won’t be able to go jogging again the day you get home from the hospital, but you may be able to do some light exercises. To find out what you can do and when you can get back on track, ask.
Food: What you eat and how soon you can eat it depends on both what type of surgery and on any complications that might arise. Get a list of which foods to eat, which to avoid and when you can go back to a regular diet. This can prevent a lot of pain and some serious complications.
Help: If there is someone in the family or a close friend who can lend a hand, don’t be shy about asking. We’d really rather lend a hand than have you end up back in the hospital. It’s hard to ask, but it’s worth it.
Lifting: In a word, don’t. Ideally, you should wait five weeks before doing any heavy lifting. Wait at least two weeks for lighter stuff. More importantly, ask your doctor for his or her time schedule on the topic. You may have to wait longer or be healed sooner than these estimates.
As you can see, your doctor is going to be the one who will tell you when you can safely to what. The above are fairly generic restrictions. Each of us is individual, so be sure to listen when your doctor explains post surgery activities.