Thursday, September 24, 2020

What to expect after surgery: Depression

Hello friends! In the last few weeks, I've answered so many questions about orthopedic surgery on Quora that people are specifically reaching out to me to answer their questions. (Sorry dude...I don't know when it's completely safe for you to smoke again after knee surgery, but I'm gonna say never.) As a frequent flyer in the orthopedic surgery center, I'm going to go ahead and proclaim myself an expert.

There are certain things that we all know that we should expect. We expect pain. We know that we'll need someone to help take care of us for at least the first day or two after surgery. But, the one post-surgical side effect that I always manage to forget about is depression. It happens every time, yet it's the one after effect that I put out of my mind.

I just had wrist fusion surgery on September 11 and all was going as well as I expected it to go. My arm was wrapped up, it was hard to shower and get dressed. I couldn't drive and, even if I could, where would I go? Plus, I'm in pain. I'm isolated, not really able to do much, having to count on my husband for many of my needs and exhausted. It stands to reason I wouldn't quite be myself. Plus, I've been taking pain medicine. I've been constipated. I already battle depression, so this is just amplifying an issue that already exists for me.

Finally, I opened to to my husband...really opened up. I told him that I was really feeling a lot of grief about my life not being exactly as I hoped it would be. I want to be able to be more active but find that so difficult. It sometimes feels that I have nothing to contribute to society anymore and that I have just given up. It felt good to tell him all of this, as hard as it was. 

I signed up for a pain and grief support group and then decided to start blogging again, since I feel that this is my contribution to society.  Then Scott made me go out for dinner. I didn't feel like it, but I was so glad I went. I really needed to get out of the house.

Here are a few recommendations for battling post surgical depression:

  • get dressed - that makes you feel normal again
  • get out of the house - go for a walk around the block, go for a ride with a friend
  • watch a funny tv show or movie - we've started watching Green Acres on Hulu and it always makes me laugh out loud
  • Talk with a friend - nothing makes me feel better than a chat with a friend. If you can't go to them, invite them to come to you, or call them

Surgery can be very jarring to the system. It makes sense that it leaves some emotional scars in its wake. Just remember why you had this surgery and take this opportunity to rest, recovery and take care of yourself.

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