Hope you're all as comfortable as possible today. I thought I would share this thread as I have answered questions about the first lap a few times now and thought it would be fab if we had a dedicated post where we can all share our tips and knowledge of laps and recovery for any newbies wanting some reassurance and pointers. Please share your tips and advice in the comments
BEFORE YOU GO TO HOSPITAL
Spend some time in the days before your op packing your hospital bag and also arranging some nice things in easy-reach for when you get home.
Think about what you might like to do to amuse yourself before you go down to theatre. I find I am always a little too jittery for reading but I like looking at pictures and so may take a Vogue or something to flick through. Audiobooks or podcasts are also good so it may be a nice exercise in the days before to have a look through the online books and podcast libraries to find something you really enjoy. I also quite like cross stitch so would recommend this or any kind of little craft where you can keep your hands busy. Anything that you can amuse yourself for a few hours quietly that isn't too stimulating and keeps your mind calm and positive.
I get quite sensitive to all the hustle and bustle of the hospital so ear buds or headphones are quite nice to cut this out when I just need a few minutes or even an eye mask if you wanted to try and have a pre-op snooze.
In the hospital bag I STRONGLY recommend some big old Bridget Jones style knickers and sanitary towels of your choosing, though I advocate for a brand like Yoni which you can get in Sainsburys which is organic cotton and chemical/fragrance free. You ABSOLUTELY will wake up with a megalodon of a sanitary towel put unceremoniously between your legs (the thing has its own gravitational pull - it's that large) and I have always found being able to change into something familiar and more discreet just makes me feel a little better and like I am in control.
Slippers and comfy clothes/ PJs is a must!
Also ensure you know what's what with your pre-op instructions concerning food and drink times (when you need to stop eating and drinking by the night before the op) and that you know how you're getting there and where you're going. Anything that can stop any stress on the day is a great thing.
ON THE DAY
This may change depending on if you're NHS or private but having had laps both privately and NHS I'll try to summarise my experience. Usually on the NHS you will arrive at the time on your letter to hospital and get taken onto the ward, introduced to the nurses and shown your bed. Privately you will sign in at the hospital reception and get taken to the ward and shown your own bedroom with ensuite.
Once here the nurses will go through your file about 3 million times and ask the same ol' questions until blue in the face. They will make sure you have stuck to the fasting instructions and check any allergies you may have. They will also take your blood pressure, check a urine sample, temperature etc. multiple times.
Usually your consultant and the anaesthetist will come round prior to the op to see you (NHS and Private). The consultant will go through the procedure with you and ask you to sign a consent form. The anaesthetist will ensure you are fit for surgery and discuss any concerns you may have about being put to sleep or if you are anxious. I *believe* it is the anaesthetist who can prescribe a sedative should you be really anxious pre-surgery.
Once all this has been done it's a waiting game until you get called. It is quite usual that you will be waiting a fair few hours unfortunately which is why I suggest having a few things to do. Although you will be told where you are on the theatre list to get a rough time of when you will go down, if there are any complex cases beforehand this may get pushed back. The nurses should keep you informed of this.
GETTING PUT TO SLEEP
There are a number of us on here who love being put to sleep but it can be a bit of a worry, particularly if you have never undergone this before so it thought I would share my experience of it.
As I've said it is usual that the anaesthetist will come round to see you pre-op to go through the procedure and medical history - in my experience they are always lovely! When it is time for your surgery you will walk down to theatre with a nurse and meet the anaesthetist and his team in a small room just off the theatre. They will ask you to lay down on a bed and prepare to put you to sleep, all the while chatting to you and making you feel at ease. Every time I’ve been put to sleep they have put some drugs through the canula in my hand which feels cold as it goes in and up your arm but I never found it painful, this always makes me feel a little heavy. They will put a face mask on you and ask to count back from ten / I don’t think I’ve ever got farther than 8, although the stubborn in me sure has tried to get to 1! This whole process from getting to the room to being put to sleep takes around 10-15 minutes. Next thing you know you will be getting woken up in recovery by a lovely nurse (recovery nurses are THE best) who will look after you as you come round from surgery. It literally feels like you are out for a second.
Recovery nurses are wonderful and I have only got nice things to say about them. You will stay in recovery (a large but quiet ward where patients are brought to come out of anaesthetic) for as long as needed until your pain levels are stable and to make sure you don't feel nauseous. They are very attentive and just want to make you feel as comfortable as possible, monitoring you and taking your readings. If you are in pain they will administer pain medication and the same if you feel sick. Their job is to get you feeling as well as possible - relatively speaking - until you go back to the ward/ your room.
BACK ON THE WARD
Depending on if you went NHS or private will all depend on if you get taken back to a ward or your own private room. In any case once you are back the nurses will want to get you eating and drinking as soon as possible and will monitor your weeing like little nurse-hawks. If you are having trouble weeing don't worry, they can help you so no stress Sometimes you may have to spend the night in hospital - this happens particularly if you are later on the theatre list or perhaps your op was bigger than expected. Nobody *likes* staying in hospital but the nurses will look after you and if you need something to help you sleep they will be able to give you something. Providing you can wee and have eaten something and feel okay it's time to go home.
I recommend taking a pillow to hospital or to ask whoever is collecting you to bring one so that you can put the pillow between your tummy and the seatbelt on your drive home. Your tummy will be uncomfortable and having something soft will cushion the drive a little. It may also be nice to ask them to bring a bottle of water for you and I always like a blanket... but i'm a sensitive soul so that one is up to you
Gather some things you like for the immediate few days at home post-surgery. Chances are you will be quite raw and groggy and won't want to move about too much to find nice things to do. I like to choose some DVDs I would like to watch and put them in easy-reaching distance and a nice pile of books. Have a flick through Netflix and see if there is a bingeworthy series up. Anything that you can look forward to.
It's worthwhile to think about food in the week post-op. The anaesthetic and the pain medication often cause constipation and so I recommend not eating anything stodgy until your first bowel movement, drinking lots of water and upping your fruit and veggies. Before you are discharged ask for a stool softener to take such as Laxido or Lactulose that can make that first bowel movement easier and ease any pressure on the tum. Please do not strain to try and force the bowels to move... from personal experience I can confirm this just isn't the thing to do. Rather have the softener, eat fibre like it's going out of fashion and stay hydrated. If you haven't managed to 'go' after 4 days always good to ring the ward just to check and put your mind at ease if you're stressed but 4 days I think it about average until you can 'go'.
Something that can come as a bit of a surprise post-op is the trapped gas pain you may experience in your shoulders or under your ribs. This is the gas they fill your abdomen with in order for them to see better and it takes a number of days to disperse. Rest assured as uncomfortable as it can be it will pass and gradually with each post-op day should get less. It usually takes around 4-7 days for it to go completely. Peppermint tea or capsules really helps to disperse the gas as does little walks around the house whenever you feel able. If the pain is quite trying try not to stress as you will clench up, rather try to stay as relaxed as possible and test sleeping propped up on a pillow as sometimes going from completely horizontal to vertical can make this discomfort worse.
SWELLY-BELLY! This is totally normal and your tum will be very swollen probably for 2-3 weeks. It's always good to be prepared for this and have clothes ready that aren’t constricting in any way (I like dresses because of this reason) and leggings with a high waist band that isn’t too tight. If after a couple of weeks there is no sign that your own swelly belly isn't going down then it's worth a call to the ward to just make sure everything is okay.
The post-op blues. SO COMMON! Please don't feel silly if you are a little up and down in the old emotion department after your lap. Post-op blues are experienced by many people and it can be quite unexpected. Just try and stay in as-positive-a-mindset as possible. You will get better but you need to give yourself time to heal. This is completely normal!
In regards to healing. Best not to put too many expectations on yourself such as you *should* be feeling better by this date. Everyone is different and bodies heal at different rates. I usually take 2 weeks to feel better in myself but 6 to feel totally back to normal. By week 3 I can usually leave the house to do a few errands. Others will bounce back a lot quicker (maybe 2). But don’t overdo it. Round about 2 weeks off work/ uni/ life is about right, but 3 is more realistic. If you can manage sooner that's fab and if you need more time that's okay too. Remember, just because outside the incisions are tiny doesn't mean it's the same inside. Your body will have experienced a trauma and will take as long as it needs to heal
If you need to change your dressings after a few days it can be a little unsettling to see the surgical sites for the first time... especially the belly button. Please don't worry... your belly button will resume looking normal again once you are healed and not the angry little weird thing it looks like straight after surgery.
MANAGING PAIN - My best advice would be to take your painkillers regularly as opposed to chasing the pain when it comes on. This way you will be far more comfortable and your body won’t have to catch up.
Some of us (myself included) hate taking pain killers but it's just not worth it in the first week or so to try and brave it out so if you can, take your pain killers and help your body ease back into wellness.
If possible have someone at home to help you for a few days. It’s just a lot easier if you don’t have to worry about cooking or fixing yourself a meal as those first couple of days can be a little disorientating and tough. Also it’s just nice to be looked after for a bit!
Also try and remember to ask when you are being discharged if you will need a check up with a nurse for wound care, and whether you arrange this or if the hospital does and also when your post-op check up will be and who arranges this. Better to have this info ASAP so you know where you stand with everything. Your nurses should give you information on post-op wound care and a number to call if you suspect that you may have an infected wound site.
If in the first week or so you feel that something doesn't feel right ALWAYS either call the ward or the GP. Chances are it's nothing to worry about but it's always better to be safe than sorry
I hope you find some of that helpful and very best of luck with your lap. I really encourage anyone who has experience of laparoscopies to comment down below and perhaps if I can edit this post I will keep it updated as I am sure others will have some great tips too.