My plastic surgeon sent home an information packet when I scheduled my surgery. She recommended that I reduce vitamin E supplements (though the amount in a multivitamin is okay), and increase vitamin C and B complex. I started taking extra C in addition to the usual supplements I take. The surgeon was especially concerned about plant extracts and Chinese medicine supplements, because those can contain all kinds of unknown compounds.
Two weeks before the surgery, I picked up my prescriptions: Erythromycin for fighting infection, Darvocet for pain, Ambien for sleeping, and Phenergan for nausea. I also picked up a bottle of Dulcolax stool softener. When I got home from the surgery, I took an Erythromycin and a Darvocet right away. I was warned not to take the Phenergan on an empty stomach, so I waited to take that one. I tolerated all the pills well, except for the nausea drug. And I didn't take vitamins for a few days post-surgery, until I started eating again.
From what I understand, Darvocet is a relatively mild narcotic. The doc said that it's less potent than Vicodin, but it also has fewer side effects. I had some Vicodin left over from my c-section, so I felt like I had a backup plan in case the Darvocet wasn't strong enough. There were only a couple of times I wished I has something stronger than the Darvocet, but it wasn't bad enough for me to break into my bottle of Vicodin. For the first five days, I took a Darvocet every four hours around the clock. I worried that I wasn't able to let more time pass between doses, but I just felt like I needed it. By day 5, I was able to go an extra half hour or hour between doses, and around day 8, I was off the sauce entirely. The biggest impetus to get off the pills was that I wanted to drive. I'm amazed that my body was pretty much pain-free such a short time after major surgery. Way to go, bod!
I tried the Ambien a couple of nights before the surgery, and it seemed gentle and effective. I continued to take the sleeping pills for two weeks after surgery. They seemed to work best while I was taking the narcotics! At the two week mark, I hit a night where it took me three hours to fall asleep after taking an Ambien. I realized I would have to either up the dosage or give it up, so I gave it up that night. As it warned on the package insert, I had a fierce case of insomnia on the next night, but after that I slept more or less okay. I still woke up three or four times a night to roll over for awhile, but that eased as the days progressed.
I mentioned in a previous post that I had a horrible (and apparently rare) reaction to the nausea drug Phenergan--extreme vertigo. I wish I had taken a sample dose before the surgery so that the doc could have given me a different prescription. Thankfully, I only had a little nausea in my recovery.
Now let's talk about my pal, the stool softener. I started taking one per night on the second night. Things are rather sluggish in that department for the first few days. On the morning of day 4 post-surgery, the Dulcolax kicked in. It was a glorious moment, indeed! As the anesthesiologist told me, you can't start taking a stool softener too early. After a week, I felt like I could go without it. No pun intended.
Before surgery, ask you doctor if you can give some of your prescriptions a test run (not the antibiotics, but the others). After surgery, be sure to write down the times you take your meds. You'll be in the twilight zone for a few days, and it will comfort you to know when you can take your next dose. And give yourself at least a week before you start obsessing about addiction. Most people can take these drugs for a couple of weeks without a problem. But if you suspect a problem, talk to the doctor right away.