pre and post surgery tips
I am writing this a month after surgery on my foot. My recovery has been excellent according to my surgeon and my follow up appointment was fast tracked due to great healing. Obviously this could be down to a variety of factors, but I thought I would write down what I did as a nutritional therapist to help prepare my body for surgery.
Going into surgery is a scary prospect and not to be undertaken lightly. I had to have my bunion operated on. It was causing me pain after only an hour's hike with my dog and I felt that surgery in my 40s to correct the problem was better than surgery later in life. A month on, I am so pleased that I had it done. I might not be wearing high heels and dancing the night away yet, but I am already in trainers and walking around fairly comfortably.
Surgery, whether planned or an emergency is a stress on the body and it takes time and plenty of good nutrition to heal and recover. I knew that I wouldn't be able to move around much after my operation and so I booked surgery for a time when I had someone at home to cook me food, make me a herbal tea and walk the dog. What I didn't expect was how rotten the general anaesthetic would make me feel. It's only a month on that I feel the fog has cleared and I'm more like myself again.
• The first thing I did was plenty of batch cooking so that I had a well stocked freezer to come home to. Homemade curries, stews and soups. If you need tips to batch cook, see our recent blog post on the subject. I used lots of healing spices in my food to help with post surgery inflammation.
• I phoned up Helios Homeopathy and told them I was undertaking surgery and the type of surgery. They sent me a few bottles of pills and instructions of what to take when. These were to help the general anaesthetic leave my body, and then some general healing and bruising combinations.
• I ordered some extra strong probiotics for post surgery. I already take probiotics most days but when I have been rundown or feel in need of a boost I turn to Elixa Probiotics. These probiotics repute to contain half a trillion CFUs per dose. I really notice a difference in my digestive system when I take this short 6 day course.
• I ordered some kefir from The Chuckling Goat. I ordered the 21-day course. I had never had this kefir before, but had heard excellent reports. I was a bit worried about how it might taste, but as the 21 days wore on I grew to really like it. It tastes fizzy with a slight goat's cheese after taste. Kefir helps to repopulate the gut with good bacteria. The reason I chose this kefir is that it has been tested and found to be effective and full of friendly bacteria.
• The number one thing I did was listen to my surgeon and physiotherapist. I was told to completely elevate the foot as much as possible. So I did this! I literally spent two weeks on the sofa with my foot elevated. Yes, it was boring and frustrating. But, I think by doing this I was back on my feet much quicker than if I had tried to do too much too quickly.
• Keep hydrated. Post surgery this can be difficult as depending on the type of surgery, getting up and down to the loo might be hard. However drinking water will help with any constipation issues that you might experience due to either the surgery, the painkillers or the inactivity. It will also help to detoxify the body and help clear the painkillers and general anaesthetic. Try and avoid coffee, tea and sugary drinks which will act as diuretics.
• Look after your gut. As well as taking kefir and probiotics I also made sure I ate an anti-inflammatory diet that was low in sugar, refined products, trans fats and alcohol. I also took a tablespoon of sauerkraut every day to help feed the good bacteria.
* I made sure I was still eating 10 portions of vegetables a day. These are rich in antioxidants which help to mop up any free radicals. Also vegetables contain plenty of nutrients which help the immune system to fight the risk of any post surgery infection.
• Although I was given lots of pain killers and non-steroid anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) to help with the pain I am always reluctant to take too many. NSAIDs can irritate and weaken your stomach lining with long-term use. Therefore I turned to natural anti-inflammatories to help bring down the inflammation. Two of the best products I used were a very high strength curcumin extract and an anti-inflammatory called KappArest by Biotics Research.
• I found the inactivity really hurt my back and hips as I am not used to lying around all day. To combat this after the first week, when I was bit more mobile, I foam rolled and did some simple hip stretching exercises. If you don't know what exercise to perform then I suggest consulting a pilates teacher who is familiar with rehabilitation exercises.
• After my wound had healed I visited our local Cryotherapy chamber and had a local treatment on my foot. The cold air really helped with the inflammation and pain and felt loads better afterwards.
I presume if you have read this far then you too have just had surgery or are about to! Good luck and I wish you all the best in recovery.