This week’s post contains a few tips and tricks to make life easier after any surgery. Sneezing, coughing, vomiting or laughing can be extremely painful, especially if you had abdominal or spinal surgery. Here are a few ways I learned to stave off these little buggers, before they ruined my day.
Stop a cough:
Keep a bottle of squeezable honey, a tin of cough drops (I love Fisherman’s Friend), and a bottle of water within reach at all times. The moment you feel that tickle in your throat (very common after intubation), swallow hard, swig some water, then squirt about a teaspoon of honey and swallow. Then eat a cough drop. This is extremely effective, but please do not use honey (and opt for sugar-free cough drops) if you are diabetic.
Stave of a sneeze:
This one is short and sweet. Pinch your nose and wait. I honestly thought this one wouldn’t work, and continue to be shocked at its efficacy!
Fight the urge to regurge:
If you feel nauseated, you will fear the havoc this will wreak on your incision as you heave. Prevent this by using a tip the recovery nurse told me. It really works! Inhale as slowly as you can through your nose, and exhale as slowly as you can through pursed lips (like you’re whistling). After a few times, the feeling usually passed quickly. Others swear by ginger chews or ginger tea. I enjoyed pickled ginger, which you can find in refrigerated Asian food sections of the grocery store. If your physician approves it, you may wish to purchase an anti-emetic or sea-sickness patch. I also found a medication-free product, called sea band to be very helpful for the first week after surgery. It uses acupressure to relieve nausea, and it certainly made a difference to me.
Shrug off the giggles:
I’m a big jokester, so when I found that I couldn’t laugh without pain, I had to come up with some creative ways to stop laughing. This sounds awful, but anytime someone would crack a joke after my surgery, I would plug my ears, close my eyes, and chant “that’s not funny, that’s not funny.” I’m sure to my pals, it was hilarious, but it worked for me, unlike anything else I tried. Depressing movies can also do the trick…
What if you have to laugh/vomit/cough/sneeze?
If you had abdominal surgery, make sure you have a small, firm pillow that you can hold over your incision during the process. I made the mistake of lugging my massive pillow around, and it didn’t really do much. A firm throw pillow or travel pillow would work much better.