You will be given prescriptions to fill at your pre-operative appointment several days before your surgery. Make sure you have these filled and picked up prior to the day of surgery. Do not wait until after your surgery. These will be medications that may need to be started within just hours of arriving home to keep you comfortable while you recover.
Someone should stay overnight your first night home. It is important to have someone available, should you need them, in the first 24 hours of recovery. The next day you will have been able to walk a few times within your home and begin feeling more confident in your post-op progress.
If it is not an emergency, you can call your doctor. Your discharge papers will also include an after-hours phone number to your doctor and his team should you have questions or problems during your recovery period and outside normal office hours. You doctor wants you to contact him if you have concerns. If your situation is an emergency, 911 should be called.
Your post-op site will be covered with a dressing. Do not submerge this dressing until follow up with your doctor. You can, however, clean around the dressing with a clean, damp cloth. After 2 days, you may shower, but avoid soaking the dressing by keeping any direct water flow away from the site. A bath will most likely have to wait at least a week or until after your first follow up with your doctor.
Starting slowly is key. Taking short 5-10 minute intervals to walk around your house a few times a day on the first day or two is recommended. Complete bed red is not recommended and there are many reason for this including slower overall recovery. When sitting, make sure you have adequate support for your back. Avoid twisting and bending or anything that would over extend or cause stretching at the area of surgery. As you feel better and gain more energy, slowly increase your activities. Driving, lifting anything more than a large book, and any heavier activities need to be cleared by your doctor after your first post-operative follow up. Being able to aggressively pursue more physically demanding sport-like activities will need to wait several weeks.
Watching for signs of an infection is very important. If your incision looks like it is gaining in redness, has any weeping or oozing, increased swelling at the incision site or you have a fever it is time to call the doctor. If you have any other unusual signs or symptoms during your recovery such as dizziness, shortness of breath, marked weakness, or any unexpected changes in your health seek medical advice right away.