For the first 24 hours after your surgery, you will be in the SICU. You may stay longer, depending upon your progress. Here a team of specially trained physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and others will provide constant care and monitoring. You can expect some of the following as you wake up:
- You may hear unfamiliar sounds, such as machinery to monitor your heartbeat, blood pressure and breathing.
- When you first wake up, you will have a "breathing tube" in your throat. You will not be able to speak. Please remember that the nurses are experts at communicating with patients who cannot talk, and finding out exactly what you need.
- You will be either asleep or very drowsy during most of your stay in intensive care. When you do wake up, you may find soft restraints on your arms and legs. Sometimes, you move around without knowing it as you are waking up. The restraints are there to keep you safe and to make sure the tubes and lines stay in place. Once you are more fully awake, the nurses will remove the restraints and ask you to move your arms and legs around on your own. Your ability to do so will help us check your recovery from anesthesia.
- Some medications may make you very sensitive to the noises around you.
- You might feel nauseated from the anesthesia. Your nurse will give you medication for relief.
- Medication can also help relieve any pain or discomfort you feel from the surgery.
- Nurses will check the dressing on your incision frequently and change it as needed. It is not unusual for fluids to drain from your incision for some time after your operation.
- You will also find thick stockings on your legs. These stockings are used to help your circulation.
- Doctors and nurses in the SICU will continuously monitor how well your new organ is functioning by taking blood tests, measuring and testing the fluids your body produces, and using other testing methods such as X-rays when necessary.
Many of the tubes, intravenous lines, monitoring devices and drains that the transplant team put in while you were under anesthesia will still be in place after the surgery. Here is a little more information about some of them.