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Colorectal Service: What You Should Know About Going Home

This information will help you prepare to go home after your surgery.

After your surgery, you will stay in the hospital for about _____ days.

You will be ready to leave the hospital when:

  • You have passed gas and had a bowel movement. This means your digestive system is working properly.
  • You are able to eat solid food. It may take several weeks for your appetite to be the same as it was before your surgery. However, you must be able to eat some solid food before you leave the hospital.
  • You are able to drink enough liquids to stay hydrated. This is even more important if you have an ileostomy.
  • You are not in too much pain. You should expect to have some discomfort after your surgery, but you will be given pain medication. It should make you comfortable enough to recover at home.
  • You are able to get up and walk. Your nurse will show you how to safely get out of bed and walk around while you are recovering. If walking is difficult for you, a physical therapist can help.

Getting Ready to Leave the Hospital

You will be told in advance when you are likely to go home. Most patients are discharged by 11:00 am. If you need a visiting nurse, your case manager can help set this up for you.

Some patients may go home with a wound, staples, or an ostomy. An ostomy is an opening made in the wall of the abdomen (stomach area) to drain urine or stool (feces). If you do go home with any of these, you and your caregiver will be taught how to care for it.

Before you leave, you will be given:

  • Instructions on how to care for your incision (surgical cut)
  • Any prescriptions you need
  • Any supplies you need. Your nurse can help you order more supplies if you run out.
  • The phone numbers of your doctor and nurse. Keep these numbers in a safe place.

When You Get Home

  • Call your doctor's office to make a follow-up appointment.
  • Walk around several times a day. This will help your digestive tract work properly. It will also help you heal and recover.
  • Drink plenty of liquids.
  • Eat small, frequent meals to get enough calories.
  • Keep track of your medication. Call your doctor's office when you have 3 days of medication left to give us enough time to renew your prescription.

Call Your Doctor or Nurse if You Have:

  • A temperature of 101° F (38° C) or higher
  • Shakes or chills
  • Increased pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased redness or draining from your incision