Why will I still be tired when I wake up after my operation even though I have been asleep?

When you sleep at home at night you sleep naturally. Your whole body relaxes and restores your energy so you will feel refreshed when you wake up in the morning. When you sleep during an operation, this is artificial sleep with the help of medicines. These medicines shut down your body and your mind, but your body does not rest in the way it does when you sleep at home at night. This is why you will not feel refreshed and rested when you wake up after your operation, even though you have been sleeping. The medicines you were given during your operation will also still be in your body for a while and will make you feel tired. And then as we all know, it takes some time for our brain to wake up properly after being asleep. This is true when you wake up in the morning or after an operation.

Why do I have a sore throat and cough after my operation?

When you are asleep during your operation, you may need help to breathe. We then give you air through a thin plastic tube inserted in your throat. When you wake up after your operation, your voice can be a bit strange and you can feel as though you have a sore throat or are getting a cold, but that is not what is happening. The plastic tube can have squeezed and scraped your throat a little bit and it is this that makes it feel strange. Your throat can sometimes be sore, and you can keep coughing for a few days after your operation. This is nothing to worry about and it will pass. Drinking or eating something cold can often relieve your throat.

Why can’t I have something to eat and drink straight after my operation?

It takes some time for the anaesthetics to leave the body, which is why many parts of your body also feel a bit tired after your operation. If you eat or drink something too soon, it can get stuck in your throat or make you feel ill. If you have had an operation on your stomach, you may also need to wait a bit before eating and drinking as your intestines need to rest for some time. When the staff in the hospital say you can start to eat and drink, it is better to try to drink something a bit at a time. If that goes well, you can go onto something that you do not have to chew as much, maybe some yoghurt or soup. You will eventually start to feel really hungry and then it will finally be time to eat normal food.

Why does it hurt?

Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong, as a warning signal. A bit like a car that beeps so you won’t be run over. If your pain system didn’t work, you could suffer serious injuries as you would not notice if something was wrong. Pain after an operation works in a slightly different way. In this case the pain is not a warning signal but a reaction to your body having been operated on. Here, it is important that you move around to reduce the pain, instead. When you move, your body releases its own medicines to fight the pain and reduce the discomfort.

Will I be in pain after my operation?

Yes, you will probably have some pain after your operation. The pain can be different at different times of the day and sometimes it can hurt more when you move. Sometimes, you can even have pain when you sleep, relax or play. You do not need to be afraid that it will hurt. All of us in the hospital will help you to reduce the pain in different ways. When you are in pain it is also important to remember that the pain will not last forever. You will feel less and less pain the more time passes after your operation and eventually, the pain will go away altogether.

How will you know if I am in pain after my operation and how will you know how painful it is?

You are the person who knows best where you feel pain and how painful it is. This is why it is important that you always tell us if you are in pain, where the pain is, how it feels and if the pain has changed. If you feel a bit shy, you can ask mummy and daddy to tell us. Those of us who work in the hospital are also trained to look to see if you are in pain and we will ask you if you are in pain, where the pain is and how much pain you are in. You will also be asked to point to a face in a line of faces showing different amounts of pain or a line with a scale where you can mark how much pain you are in. Sometimes we can be pretty busy and then it is important that you do not wait for us to ask you if you are in pain. You really must tell us as soon as something does not feel good. Nobody in the hospital will think you are just being a very good boy or girl if you do not tell us you are in pain. We don’t want you to be in pain and will do everything we can to help you.

Will I get some medicine for the pain?

After your operation, you will be given medicine that reduces the pain until you think the pain level is OK. You will receive this medication directly via the plastic tube connected into a blood vessel, via a drip tube or in a special machine. You can also be given tablets to swallow or a spoon of liquid medicine in your mouth. The pain might not go away straight away when you are given the medicine. It often takes a little time before the pain starts to feel better but it is important that you tell us if you think it is taking too long or you are in too much pain.

Why must I take medicine if I am not in pain?

To ensure the pain-relieving medicine helps you in the best way, it is better to have the same amount of medicine in your body all the time. The pain in your body will not then go up and down like a roller coaster. To ensure you never have too little medicine in your body, it is important that you take the medicine even if you are not in that much pain when it is time for your medicine.

Can I do anything myself to make me feel less pain?

Yes, you can. If, for example, you think about something fun or that you like to do, this can keep your brain occupied. Play games, chat on the internet or watch a video on YouTube, these are all good to make you feel less pain. You can also try to change your position in bed and put a pillow under your arm or leg or behind your back. If you have had an operation to your throat, eating or drinking something cold or sucking an ice cube can help. It is also important that you start moving as soon as possible after your operation. When you move, your body releases its own medicines to fight the pain and reduce the discomfort. A good idea, don’t you think? When you are in pain it is also important to remember that the pain will not last forever. You will feel less and less pain the more time passes after your operation and eventually, the pain will go away altogether.

What is a local anaesthetic and how does it work?

Nerves are wires in the body and enable us to feel that something hurts. A local anaesthetic is medicine that numbs the nerves in the place where you feel pain. But only in the local area where the pain is. The skin or the area where you have been given the local anaesthetic can tingle and sting a bit. Sometimes, it feels as though your skin has gone to sleep. The local anaesthetic cream that is rubbed on your skin before an injection numbs the area.

How does it feel to have a spinal anaesthetic?

A spinal anaesthetic is called an epidural and is an injection in your back to stop you feeling pain in a part of your body. A tube is then inserted when you are asleep that stops you feeling anything. The tube is soft and thin and you can lie in bed in any position even when you have a tube in your back. When you are given medicine in the thin tube, different parts of your body are anaesthetised so you feel less pain. Sometimes an epidural can also make your legs feel heavy or that you cannot feel them at all. This is nothing to worry about and this feeling will pass when the anaesthetic is turned off. When you have an epidural, you will not know when you need to have a pee, so a thin tube will be inserted at the same time to drain your pee. Sometimes this pee tube can make you feel as though you want to pee all the time, but this is nothing to worry about, it is just a feeling. Your pee drains out in the tube and into a bag.

Will I feel ill after my operation?

Yes, sometimes you can feel ill after an operation. This can be due to a lot of different things. Some people feel ill more easily than other people, you can feel more ill after certain operations and if you are in pain or hungry. If you get travel sick easily, you are likely to feel ill more easily. This is why it is good if, before your operation, you tell us that you often feel travel sick or have felt ill when you have had anaesthetics and an operation before. Sometimes, certain medicines can make you feel ill but fortunately, we also have medicines that help you feel less ill. We will give you this kind of medicine if you need it. After your operation, it is therefore important that you tell us if you think you are starting to feel ill so we can help you very quickly.

How long do I have to keep my plasters, bandage and plaster cast on?

How long plasters, bandages and a plaster cast need to stay on depends on what kind of operation you have had. The staff will explain what will happen in your case before you leave hospital after your operation. When you come home it is important that you follow the instructions you have been given.

When can I have a shower after my operation?

If you have a plaster or bandage that can go in water, you can have a shower when you want. But if you have a plaster or bandage that must be kept dry, you will need to protect it with a plastic bag to stop it getting wet. Showering with a bandage can be a bit difficult and you may need a bit of advice on what to do. Before you leave hospital after your operation, you can ask the staff to explain what to do when you want to have a shower.

What should I do about the stitches?

Certain stitches will dissolve naturally while other stitches must be removed by a nurse at the hospital or clinic. Before you leave hospital after your operation, the staff will explain what stitches you have, how long they need to stay and how they should be removed.

When can I start exercising and going training again?

You can start doing physical exercise and go training when you feel you are as strong as you were before your operation. Sometimes, this can be quite soon, other times it can take a bit longer. When you start training again, it is important you do not start exercising as you did before your operation. It is better to start gently and gradually build up your training bit by bit and sense that your body can manage this and feels OK. If you are not sure, ask the staff before you leave hospital after your operation.

Why does my wound itch as it heals?

Loads of different things are happening in your body as a wound heals. Damaged skin is being eliminated and good new skin is growing. The skin contains sensors that can easily become irritated by everything that is happening as the wound heals and this is what causes itching.

What is a scab?

When you get a wound, the blood thickens to form a scab, which is a kind of crust over the wound. This scab acts as a kind of plaster and prevents bacteria getting into the body. Your body heals the wound under the scab and builds up new skin. When the process is complete, the scab falls off.

Why does it leave a scar?

When you have an accident and damage your skin or have an operation, the body needs to heal the wound and make the skin whole again. Your body starts to repair the wound and make new skin. Your body is unable to repair the wound in a way that means your skin looks exactly the same as it did before your injury or operation. Especially if you have a big and deep wound. That is when you get a scar.