That kind of thing should never happen.
I speak of all this not just a fitness guy, but as someone that has had to deal with a sick daughter with kidney disease, as well as a very jarring situation with my dad having a heart attack and angioplasty just a few weeks back. Sometimes we get fantastic information from the doctors, nurses and other health care staff, sometimes not. Most importantly though we need to be very careful with the way that we take in information. sometimes we miss details given to us and sometimes the health care professionals think that we are aware of certain things when in fact we are not.
First of all the hospital staff including nurses, doctors and other health care workers have a head full of knowledge that you just have to ask the right questions to the right people.
Right after leaving the hospital
Right after you leave the hospital what do you need to know. Are there any special instructions for that first night?
Are there any medications needed? Some medication may need to be taken that first day but some many can wait.
Are there any dietary restrictions? How about water and food intake over the first 24 hours. Often there are water restirctions or a need for water and fasting or not.
How about baths, heat or ice packs? Are these needed, can you pick them up on the way home from the hospital or wait?
The initial day home from a hospital can be difficult so it is important to know what distractions you can get rid of. The last thing you want to do in those first 24 hours is to be running out to the store to buy things, fill prescriptions, get food, or any other things that can just wait a day.
After 24 hours - Through the first week out of the hospital
As any kind of caregiver you need to make sure that you are very clear on the situation above. You need to know things like dietary restrictions going forward, water and liquids, and then all the crazy things that certain surgeries can bring on. You may need to have multiple medications to track and exercise considerations.
As far as medications. How many and how often. It is important to have a schedule of exactly what has to be taken when and any interactions between the medications. You can get this information from a pharmacist or the doctor and in these cases do not trust your memory. Write everything down. Another problem with medications is the side effects.
Make sure that you know what the side effects can be and what to watch out for. Most people do not show side effects but really the fact is that you will be dealing with medications that are not common to you or your patient so you need to be aware if there is an allergy or side effect showing up.
Finally, as far as I am concerned, most medications are for acute symptoms. Right after a trauma or a surgery you need to take a few things like pain killers, blood thinners, anticoagulants, and anti-inflammatories that you should be able to drop once healing has taken place. Please under no circumstances should you make these decisions on your own, but instead consult with the doctors and other staff that you have access to so that the decisions are not going to set you any steps back in the recovery process.
Food, Drink, and Exercise. What you take in an what you do in the days after surgery and recovering from these often has a bigger effect on the outcome and recovery than anyone really suspects. The fact is that your body will heal with what you eat and drink and what you do for exercise is really important.
Critical changes to your diet and exercise are important if you want to heal or support those healing so be sure to be very aware of what is prescribed for in the area of food and restrictions for foods or other things like sodium. Also after a stay in the hospital it can be very difficult to get a lot of exercise but exercise is critical to recovery. In my dads case after his heart attack we of course had no idea how much exercise a moderately physical guy should get afterwards so it is important to talk to the doctor and nurses to see what they have to say.
Permanent changes are often needed after hospital stays. A car accident, heart attack, or other major life event is just that, a major life event and may mean that you have to make permanent changes. You have to look at diet, exercise, ongoing health care, and even lifelong habits may need to change.