Hi Sparky! Welcome to our forum and sorry that you've had cause to seek us out!
Lilian as usual is spot on with her advice and there is little I can add.
Visitors:- Make sure someone co-ordinates who comes, when and for how long they stay, I couldn't believe how tired visitors made me feel and it's not easy to ask them to go. After your op one of the side effects of the anaesthetic is you get very emotional, which is heightened by tiredness and pain
Pain:- As well as an epidudural another form of pain relief post op is morphine administered through a pump (or something!) that you can top up yourself by pushing a button, the nurses will explain how to do it if you have this regime. As Lilian says, do keep on top of your pain, after one surgery I thought I'd 'be brave' and do without my pain relief and couldn't work out why I felt so rotten...... until one of the nurses on here said, "Alison, you are taking your pain killers aren't you?" Doh!
Diet:- If you haven't already been told about diet after your operation make sure you know exactly what foods to eat and what are 'No, no's'! I didn't know and suffered badly! Basically as Lilian says, stick to bland food, you will be guided for the first couple of days, but may be left unaided in your choices after that, it seems to differ from hospital to hospital. Bland foods are soups without 'bits' in (at first) especially veg, white bread, white pasta, plain white rice, milk dishes like yoghurt, custard, rice pudding, then a bit later onto chicken and fish, mashed potato, plain biscuits. Once you've established that you are Ok on these sorts of foods, gradually introduce other meats and a few veg that mash, mostly root veg, chew everything very well and you will grow more confident with each new food you introduce. If you have problems, start a diary and this may show some pattern. Don't do as I did on day 4 in hospital and eat a lovely healthy salad with loads of raw onion! I enjoyed the meal very much, but paid for it by being extremely ill for over 3 days after! If you have an ileostomy/colostomy and have very watery stools eat marshmallows and jelly babies, they help thicken the stools.
Clothes:- After your op you will be very tender around the tummy area, my surgeon told me they are quite rough with the instruments inside you, twisting and turning them all the time! So you end up quite bruised and swollen for a time so take very loose pyjamas with you and invest in jogging bottoms or trousers with elastic in them and probably a size bigger than you would normally use for your journey home and for recuperation at home.
At home:- Sleeping when you get home can be quite a problem as you get used to the electric beds Lilian mentioned, which enable you to sleep/rest with your legs bent at the knees and your back and head raised. Of course at home you just have a flat bed, you probably have a few spare pillows to put behind your head/back to let you lie in the sitting position, but a 'V' shaped pillow is better and if possible try and get a 'wedge' to put under your knees or at least a couple of pillows so that you can bend your knees. If you try to lie too flat straight away, it will pull at your stitches/clips and be uncomfortable in the already bruised tummy area!
It's not all doom and gloom though, if you're well prepared recovery can be steady, but take each day at a time, don't run before you walk, don't expect miracles, eat sensibly, little and often, drink plenty, especially water, try and walk a little each day and go a little further each day, when you feel like it set goals and when you're tired tell the family! You don't have to be brave all the time!
Best of luck, do let us know how you get on and ask any other questions as and when they pop up!
Best wishes, Alison