Information on how to stay healthy during your hospital stay.

You can have visitors here. We have open visiting hours. However, remember rest is important for your recovery. Ask your visitors to limit their visits to short periods. 

Your family member or friend can bring in your bag with your personal belongings.

Your nurses regularly check your blood pressure, pulse, breathing, temperature, surgery site, and pain level. 

Managing pain

You might have some pain or discomfort.

It is important that you are comfortable so you can rest, move, heal, and exercise. Tell your nurse if the pain is making it hard for you to move, deep breathe, or rest. Don’t wait until you are having a lot of the pain before you ask for help.

To help us know how much pain you are having, we use a pain scale like this one below. These faces show how much something can hurt (not what your face looks like when in pain). From left to right, the faces show more and more pain.

You can point to the face that shows how much you hurt, or tell how much you hurt using words or a number from 0 to 10. 

surgery pain faces

If it is easier, you can also describe your pain as ‘small’, ‘medium’ or ‘large’.

Your pain needs to be at a comfortable level. You should be able to do normal activities such as washing, sitting, eating, and walking. For most people, this means have a pain score less than 4.

We regularly give medicines for pain to help keep your pain under control. Depending on your surgery, the pain medicines we give could include:

  • Pills
  • Injections (needles)
  • Into the intravenous (I.V.)
  • Epidural (numbing medicine given through a small tube into your back)
  • Nerve block (numbing medicine injected around the nerve near the surgery area)

Other ways you can help ease your pain:

  • Do slow, relaxed breathing.
  • Listen to music.
  • Change positions.
  • Hold a pillow to splint the surgery area when you cough or move.

Feeling sick

If you feel sick to your stomach (nauseated) or throw up (vomit), we can give you medicine to settle your stomach. Let us know as soon as you feel sick.

Other ways to help settle your stomach:

  • Place a cool, damp cloth on your face or back of neck.
  • Take small sips of cold water or suck on ice chips.

Get moving

Expect to be asked to sit up and even get out of bed the day of your surgery, unless your surgeon has ordered something different.

For the first few times you get out of bed, call for a nurse to be with you. Never try to get up on your own until you are steady on your feet.

Get up and sit in a chair for your meals.

Go for a walk. Start with one walk and progress to two or more times a day.

Do leg exercises. Bend and straighten your legs. Tighten and relax your buttock and thigh muscles. Point your toes up and down.

Drinking and eating

For most surgeries, you can begin to drink fluids shortly after arriving on the Surgical Unit. For many surgeries, you can start eating within a few hours.

Your body needs healthy foods with extra calories and protein to help you heal.

Passing gas is a sign your bowels are starting to ‘wake up’ after surgery. Your nurse asks you often if you are passing gas or if your bowels have moved (had a poop).

Both having surgery and taking pain medicine can slow down your bowels. Getting out of bed, sitting up, and going for walks helps get your bowels moving. 

Keeping healthy after surgery

A nurse in the recovery area will let you know when you are able to go home or are ready to be moved to a unit in the hospital.

If you are going to a unit in the hospital, here are some things you can do to stay healthy during your hospital stay:

  • Clean your teeth and mouth two to four times every day.
  • Keep head of bed at 30 degrees and foot of bed at 15 degrees, unless instructed not to do so.
  • Sit on the edge of the bed as soon as you can. Sit in a chair for meals or sit up in bed.
  • Walk three or more times every day. If pain prevents you from getting up, ask for pain medication.
  • Do deep breathing and coughing at least 10 times every hour. Use an incentive spirometer if one is given to you.
  • Wear non-slip shoes or socks when up. Never try to get up on your own if you are unsteady. Call a nurse to help.
  • Ask for your urinary catheter to be removed, if you have one.
  • Use the toilet (or bedside commode) to empty your bladder or bowels.
  • Wipe from front to back.
  • Clean your hands often. 
    • It is the best way to stop the spread of germs.
    • Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
    • Clean your hands before eating and drinking, and after using the toilet and after touching surfaces others use.
    • Ask others to clean their hands before touching you.

Frequently asked questions

Understand more about your surgery by visiting our frequently asked questions section.