Stay strong for a speedy recovery from surgery

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RCA’S Active Health philosophy has been designed to assist residents to remain strong and healthy as they age.

However, even for the most health conscious person, some wear and tear on the body can only be rectified with a surgical procedure. Not all surgery follows a medical emergency. In many cases surgical procedures like hip and knee replacements can be planned for.

Plan ahead for optimum recovery from surgery

Any kind of surgery causes physical and emotional trauma to the body, placing pressure on our stress responses, nutritional requirements, and immune defences. The body’s ability to recover from surgery requires key nutrients, so it is worthwhile to make sure that you are optimally prepared with a nutritional diet as well as other important factors including physical therapy and exercise, medication regime and post-op support.

Reach out to others. It is possible that you know someone who has had the same operation. Ask them for tips based on their experience – and after your surgery, pass your experience on to others who are facing the same procedure.

Nutrition – before surgery and to promote recovery

Prior to surgery, eat fresh fruit and vegetables and protein such as fish, chicken, lean meat and legumes. Drink plenty of water and cut down on fatty food, caffeine, sugar and alcohol. For the weeks leading up to surgery, until seven days before, boost your immune system with vitamins C and A.

Zinc is an essential mineral required for growth, repair, wound healing and immune function. It helps with the formation of proteins and collagen, required for skin and tissue repair. Zinc is found in lean meat, fish, wholegrains, nuts and seeds – especially pumpkin seeds.

The body’s ability to stop the flow of blood after surgery is vital. Various nutrients, herbs and foods that have blood-thinning effects may reduce the blood’s natural ability to clot and should be avoided one week before surgery. They include vitamin E, omega 3, garlic, ginger, ginseng, green tea and cranberry.

Boost the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut by supplementing probiotics and eating probiotic rich foods like yogurt and sauerkraut. The presence of good probiotic bacteria in the digestive system may reduce the risk of infection while you recover.

A healthy gut flora will also manufacture vitamin K for us, which is needed for clotting mechanisms after surgery.

Reducing stress and achieving a relaxed and harmonious state will also help to provide the resources required during stressful surgery and your hospital stay.

man running

Exercise – before surgery and to promote recovery

It’s a good idea to exercise as much as you physically can (without injuring yourself) before the surgery. The goal is to build or maintain as much muscle as possible since you won’t be able to use those muscles as much for a while after surgery. A stronger body will make for an easier recovery.

Speak to your doctor about which exercises you can do before your operation. These might be the same as you will be doing post operatively. Do them every day no matter how simple. They won’t be as easy after the surgery and it’s a good idea to get your body used to the motions.

forget the pills

Medications – before surgery and for recovery

Speak to your doctor about when to cease certain medications. Aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can thin your blood and increase the amount of blood loss during surgery. You should also stop taking anticoagulant medications and blood thinners in accordance with your doctor’s instructions.

Preparing your home for optimum recovery

Before you go to hospital, clean your home and make sure you have clean clothes ready. You’ll be too tired for chores after surgery and you’ll enjoy the calm of an orderly environment while you are recovering. If you live alone, have a meal plan in place – you could prepare and freeze some meals, or ask friends or family to help with this.

It also is highly recommended that you organise your home with safety features to prevent accidents. These include making pathways in crowded areas, securing rugs, extension cords or power cords on the floor, organising a chair for the shower if you’ll need it, and placing whatever you know you will need after surgery within an easy reach.

If you are a resident of an RCA village, speak to your village nurse who will be able to assist you in getting back on your feet as soon as possible.

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