My six tips for a speedy recovery after surgery

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Let me start by saying that I'm not a medical professional. I am a quite healthy 41-year-old. And, while none of my friends or family members seem to think I'm very tough, I think I'm a pretty resilient sort of person.

But I've had the not-so-fun experience of having surgery twice in the past year, including a week ago when I had my gallbladder out and nine months ago when I had my third C-section.

Since I'm happily sitting here at work today, I thought I would share my amateur's advice on how to get over surgery quickly. After all, health is a financial matter. A serious illness not only saps your savings, but can easily lead to lost income and even bankruptcy. So, here's my top six doctor-unapproved tips for recovering from surgery quickly:

Get out of the hospital as quickly as possible. I learned this one during my first C-section, an operation for which you can stay four nights or sometimes longer. But after the third day, the nurses were tired of me, I was sick of the hospital, and I found I had more help and had a happier outlook once I got home to my loving family. Now I convince the doctor to let me out as soon as possible.

Don't overeat. You won't be able to eat for 12 to 20 hours before surgery so you'll be really hungry after surgery. Hate to tell you this, but many types of surgery give you gas. So if you eat too much or too quickly once you get your doctor's okay, that gas pain gets a lot worse. Bloating and incisions are not a happy combination.

Don't take too many pain killers. Okay, maybe this doesn't make that much sense, but it's my list and I think you take better care of yourself if you know what hurts, how much and where -- and are not spaced out on meds. Get as much sleep as possible.

Sleep is the best pain killer. You'll be able to sleep a lot. Enjoy it! When you wake up, you'll probably feel much better. Then, make yourself get up, get some fresh air or putter around the house (but don't lift anything).

Shower every day. It will wake you up and make you feel better instantly. Surprisingly, most bandages these days can withstand a shower it seems.

See some folks. It's depressing to sleep so much and be in pain all day. So, even if you feel terrible, invite some close friends over (another good reason to shower daily). They will be really nice to you and may even bring you presents. Plus it will give your beleaguered caregiver someone to joke around with since you've probably lost your sense of humor.

And here's my big realization about recovering from surgery, which took until the latest procedure for me to realize. It's this: Just when you're wondering if you will ever feel normal again, you wake up the next morning and suddenly find you feel much better. At least I hope you do!

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