1. Will I be able to have visitors?

Since the covid pandemic we have had many changes around visiting. There are now certain wards and units in the hospital where pre-booked visiting is allowed for 2 nominated people.  On our elective wards where patients are on a green pathway visiting is yet to be reintroduced, this is for your protection. Green pathway patients have isolated pre-op and when they are in hospital we are doing all we can to minimise mixing and risk.

2. Do I have to wear a face mask all the time whilst in hospital?

No, we will only ask you to wear a face mask on admission whilst you wait to go into the operating theatre and when you are being transferred between areas. You will not be required to wear a face mask whilst recovering on the ward, but please continue to observe regular hand washing and maintaining social distance from others where possible.

3. Will I be able to eat following my operation?

Following surgery, your surgeon will clearly indicate when the right time to eat again is.  For most patients this will be within the first few days, but this depends on the type of operation you have had.  Although we want you to get back to normal eating we have to be mindful of reintroducing food following major surgery therefore we do this cautiously and only when instructed.

4. What should I eat after my operation?

Your surgeon will let you know when you are allowed to eat, remember that if you are not allowed to eat then we will be managing your nutritional needs in other ways with the support of the dietitians. When it is time to eat again staff will guide you through good food choices, it is always a good idea to start with liquid or soft foods like soup, yoghurt, and ice cream to see how your body feels. The chart below is a guide to foods and how we would advise you to progress eating to get back to normal, unless instructed otherwise by your surgeon or dietitian.

5. Can I bring in my own food to hospital?

The Trust provides a variety of high quality, safe & nutritious food & drinks to patients in hospital. Great care is taken to provide food, which is right for the needs of individual patients. Drinks and snacks are freely available when a patient is allowed to eat & drink. If you want to bring in food for your recovery period, we suggest food with a long life like:

•  Biscuits.

•  Individually-wrapped cakes or cereal bars.

•  Sweets / Chocolate / Crisps.

•  Fruit Squash / Cordials / Mineral Water / Flavoured Water.

•  Individual Cartons or bottles of still juice that doesn’t need refrigerating

•  Fresh Fruit (small amounts only)

In the interests of safety we cannot warm or reheat food brought into hospital.

6. What are wound drains?

Wound drains are small plastic tubes placed by the surgeon, near the wound site, at the end of an operation. Their purpose is to allow any excess fluid to drain out of your body into an attached bag in the days after surgery. This prevents fluid from building up or collecting inside your abdomen. They are not usually painful and removing a drain is a simple task performed by the nurses on the ward when instructed by the surgeon. Some operation require a few drains some require none.

7. Is it safe to get up, out of bed on the day after surgery?

Yes, in fact it is really important that you try to mobilise on the first day after your operation. Enhanced recovery aims to get patients back to normal function and get the best recovery possible, early mobilisation, getting out of bed or taking a short walk, in the first day or two is the best way to kick start your recovery and reduce your risk of complications. This will not be easy but the nursing staff and physiotherapists will work with you to make sure you are safe and comfortable. The team are skilled in mobilising patients when they may be attached to many machines, tubes and wires, don’t let this put you off, all we ask is that you try.

8. Should I keep my compression stockings on day and night?

Compression stockings are used after surgery to reduce the risk of clots developing called VTE or Venous Thrombo Embolism. When compression stockings are recommended after surgery, they should be worn as much as possible, day and night, until you're able to move around freely. Your stocking can be removed when you are having a wash and when the nurses want to check your skin, but should then be replaced.

9. Who will help me with my stoma if I have one?

If your surgery involves the formation of a stoma (colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy) then you will be given support from the stoma care team. These specialist nurses will provide education, training and the supplies you will require to ensure you are confident and efficient in dealing with your stoma before you are discharged home. The nurses and healthcare assistants working on critical care and the surgical wards will also be there to support you with stoma management 24hrs a day.

10. How long will my recovery take?

When we discharge you home from hospital this is the point where your recovery must continue at home and you will have to monitor your progress, ensuring you keep increasing your mobility on a daily basis until you are back to what is normal for you. Recovery is different for every patient and depends on what type of surgery you have as well as your health and condition before your operation. After major surgery you should expect a recovery of at least 6-8 weeks.

11. When will I be able to return to work?

Returning to work will be guided by your surgeon and can be different for every individual and will depend on what type of job you do. We advise that you wait until  at home recovering and see how you feel, you will know when the right time is for you. You will have an outpatient appointment with your surgeon in the weeks following your discharge, use this opportunity to discuss returning to work safely.

12. Who will provide my Fit note (previously called sick note)?

You can get a fit note from the team in the hospital which will only cover the time you are an inpatient with us. For all other time you are off work including your recovery, your GP will provide a fit note.

13. What can I do when I go home?

When you are discharged from hospital, it will be when the team feel you are safe and well enough to continue your recovery at home. We expect you to continue to increase your daily mobility as you are able. Try to set yourself small goals each day or week which can be good to motivate but also to see your progress. You will still need plenty of rest and good nutrition to ensure your body can heal. Walking is the perfect activity to aid recovery, distance and speed can be altered to your ability and can be increased as you progress.

14. What should I not do when I go home?

Remember you will need to time to get back to what is normal for you, don’t try to achieve all you may have done before your operation when you go home. Don’t lift anything heavy or put strain on your operation site. Avoid activities which involve standing still for a long time or tasks that may involve overstretching. Leave household chores to others and only undertake when you feel able. Discuss with your surgeon when it is safe for you to return to more strenuous exercise when you have your post-op appointment.

15. What if I can’t give myself the heparin injections at home?

Often following major surgery you will be required to continue anti-coagulation therapy, a small daily injection, at home for a number of weeks. This is to reduce your risk of blood clots or VTE (Venous Thrombo Embolism). We encourage all patients to learn how to administer these injections to themselves in the days prior to discharge under the supervision of the nurse. If this is not going to be possible for you, we will train a family member or friend to be able to do this for you at home. Occasionally we will ask the district nurses to attend daily and give your injection if necessary.

16. Who do I contact for any problems with my wound when I am at home?

When you leave hospital you will be given instructions by ward nursing staff regarding the care of your wound. This will usually include how to dress it if needed, when stitched need to be removed if appropriate and whether you will be expected to attend your local practice nurse or if district nurses will come to your house. You will be given some dressings to take home with you. If you have any questions regarding your aftercare then phone the ward in the first instance, they will advise as to the best treatment if you have any problems. Ward phone number will be on your discharge letter.