Recovering From Surgery for Pancreatic Cancer
Your hospital stay will depend on the type of surgery you had. Recovery after you leave the hospital may continue for one month or more. Here is an overview of how you may feel after surgery:
For the first few days, you’re likely to have pain from the cuts, called the incisions. You can control your pain with medicine, which your doctor will prescribe. You may have an epidural catheter inserted into your lower back so that it’s easier to give you pain medication. You may have a patient-controlled analgesia pump (PCA). This is an intravenous form of pain medication that you control by pressing a button. Pain medicine will be transitioned from the epidural or PCA pump to oral medications before you leave the hospital. Talk with your doctor or nurse about your options for pain relief. Some people are hesitant to take pain medication, but doing so can actually help your healing. If your pain is not controlled well, for example, you may not want to cough or turn over often, which you need to do while you recover from surgery.
If your surgeon removed your entire pancreas, you no longer make enough insulin to get glucose into your cells, where they can be used for energy. The removal of your pancreas causes diabetes. You will need to learn how to test your blood for glucose (sugar) and to give yourself insulin shots. The diabetes educator at the hospital will help you to manage your diabetes. He or she will give you information about other steps you need to take to keep your blood glucose levels within a normal range.
You will also need follow-up care after surgery. You will need to make an appointment with your surgeon and get any other information for home care and follow-up when you leave the hospital.