Not Feeling Well after Surgery – Now What?

Not Feeling Well after Surgery – Now What?

Your surgery is over – yay, you did it! But why aren’t you feeling well? Perhaps you feel nauseated, tired or fatigued, you have bruises that hurt, you may have a rash and itch, experiencing headaches, maybe have a fever or a sore or scratchy throat from a tube that was inserted into your airway. Here you were thinking that the surgery was the worst of it and now this. I mean you understand you signed up for surgery, but you weren’t expecting this, at least not to this extent. Some of these maladies will leave shortly and others you are experiencing should be reported to your doctor. Not feeling well after surgery may not be expected but is a very real occurrence.

Effects of Anesthesia – You Say What?

Anesthesia is used during surgery to deaden the brain signals to pain. You will be in what is referred to as deep sleep – this, if you ask me, is a good thing. Once you awaken you may feel some side effects. Perhaps you feel dizzy – which is why you should have help getting up the first few times. Perhaps you have a dry mouth so begin taking fluids – water is usually suggested. Perhaps you feel nauseated, and if you do be sure to tell the medical staff as you can be given medication to alleviate that problem. Headaches are somewhat common and usually, if caused by anesthesia will leave within a few days to a week. In some instances, you may have foggy thinking, which also usually leaves in a week or two.

Bruising – Ouch!

When I came home from my most recent surgery it looked as though I lost a fight with Mike Tyson. All the pokes and prods from my hospital stay, IVs and all the times they took blood samples, left me with bruises up and down my arm. You can also experience bruising around the surgery site where there might also be swelling. Rest assured all these bruises will usually go away in about two weeks – it’s normal to see a change in color – usually something like purple/blue to brown, yellow and green. Applying a cold compress to the bruise can help with any the pain or swelling you’re experiencing at the site of the bruise. Be sure to have a barrier between the ice and your skin. There are also creams that claim to help which might be worth a try as well.


Your body has been through a lot and it’s normal to be tired following surgery as your body recovers. It’s thought that the body gives out a response that triggers fatigue so you will rest – our bodies are amazing. Other causes of fatigue include having lost blood during surgery which might have led to anemia. You’re also probably aren’t getting uninterrupted sleep and you may be tossing and turning as you try to get comfortable. Even doing the normal activities you did before surgery can be enough to exhaust you. Any narcotic pain medication will surely make you tired. This is all completely normal. Try to stay hydrated, rest when you feel tired and eat healthful foods as this will help you return to your pre-surgery surgery self. With doing so you may not see improvement day to day, but you should see some improvement week by week month by month.

Fever – Why’s it so Hot in Here?

Having a low-grade fever after surgery can be nothing to cause worry and usually, this is the case. Your body has been through a lot and at times a fever may be a reaction to the anesthesia and the surgery itself. However, if the fever begins a few days after surgery it could be stemming from something different, there is a possibility that it could be serious, and you should contact your doctor right away. Having a fever can be a sign of Infection and can be dangerous and even life-threatening, so again contact your doctor right away.

Infection – Oh No, Not a Good Thing


Infection is something that cannot be taken lightly. You want to watch for any signs that an infection. Some signs you want to watch for are:

1. The incision getting more red

2. There is swelling around the incision

3. The incision has begun oozing pus

4. The incision has a bad odor

5. You have an increase in pain

6. You have a fever

If you experience any of these symptoms call your doctor immediately. Infection is nothing to play with and can be life-threatening.

Nauseated – I Don’t Feel so Good

Not-feeling-well-after-surgery-NauseatedBesides a possible side effect of anesthesia, you may experience nausea for other reasons as well. Maybe your medication is upsetting your stomach. Be sure you are taking medication after eating, especially if the warning label says too. Even if it doesn’t, I tend to eat a little something just to have something in my stomach. Pain can be another cause of nausea. When I became nauseated, though I never discovered the cause, I tried Peppermint Essential Oil and that did relieve my nausea – it might work for you as well.


Rash – Itching, Itching, and More ItchingNot-feeling-well-after-surgery-Rash

If you’re experiencing a rash after surgery, it could be that you are allergic to some type of material, including adhesive, that was used during surgery. In most cases, if you remove the adhesive (bandage/tape) the rash will fade. Another cause of rash could be an allergic reaction to the medication. This can be dangerous, and you should consult your doctor. If you are experiencing a rash near your incision, the rash becomes larger, or you have a fever you should contact your doctor.


So Much is Normal After All

Even though your surgery is over you probably will experience not feeling well after surgery. So much of the time this is normal – the effects of anesthesia, experiencing a fever, rash, fever, infection, bruising, tiredness can all be a part of your post-surgery recovery. Talk to your doctor about any discomfort you are experiencing. Above all, if you do have any symptoms of infection call your doctor immediately.

2 thoughts on “Not Feeling Well after Surgery – Now What?

  1. Nice work, Debbie! This is really insightful. I’d like to also point out that it is VERY vital that you take the pain medication the doctor prescribes to you immediately after surgery. The anesthesia will eventually wear off, so if you don’t take the meds, you will feel ALL that pain that you would’ve felt during surgery. I once had oral surgery to pull out my wisdom teeth and I learned that the hard way!

    1. Thank you TJ. I did that same thing and learned it’s harder to chase pain and easier to take your pain meds.

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