Not sure how helpful I can be since my surgery was done robotically with numerous small (relatively speaking) incisions on my abdomen. They said I'd be released anywhere from 2 - 5 days post-op. Because I like to think of myself as hearty and a quick healer, I was sure I'd be released after 2 days. Nope - needed the whole five. The most painful thing for me was the bloating from the air they puff into you during surgery. Walking DEFINITELY helps alleviate this pain and helps to get the intestines moving/functioning. (Also, I have a temporary ileostomy, so again my experience is different from what yours will be.)
I agree with Darkness about holding a pillow to your abdomen if you cough or sneeze. The first time I sneezed post-op it HURT like HELL and I was sure I'd busted sutures (I didn't. Just felt like it!) My lower abdomen was puffy for about 1 1/2 weeks post-op, then one night, almost magically, it went down to it's normal size. The next day, I was able to wear jeans. !!! (I'd been living in sweatpants & loose shorts until that point.)
I understand being scared. Like you, this was my first surgery ever. I'd never been under general anesthesia before and was terrified of the whole process: surgery, hospital stay, recovery - the whole bit. During my pre-op visit, I made SURE to tell them that I did NOT want to be nauseous when I woke up after surgery. They gave me meds during the procedure (I believe) and put a patch of some sort behind one of my ears. I didn't have any queasiness when I woke up.
I know they also gave me Valium right before they wheeled me into the OR and I remember feeling a little 'happy' as it took effect. (I'd never had Valium before.) I remember being in the OR and hearing the nurses say, "What time are we marking start of surgery? 11:03." The next thing I knew, I was waking up with my husband & sister standing there, and a nurse telling me it was over. They said they'd be moving me "up" to a different floor, which in my loopy state made me start singing the theme song from "The Jeffersons,", movin' on up.
ANYWAY - I totally understand your fears, but the surgery itself isn't bad. Mine took I think about 5 hours. You're totally knocked out, which is a good thing. You don't WANT to be awake for that! I really didn't experience much post-op pain, other than the gas build up, which went away. They gave me an Rx for Percocet and I never even bothered to get it filled. You will have soreness, but it's bearable. Laughing hurt, even a few weeks after surgery. My surgeon kept reassuring me that pain was normal. She kept saying, "Small incisions, but BIG surgery."
You will be fine. Try not to freak out (easier said than done, I know.) I'm a medical wimp, and if I got through the fears & the procedure itself, you will too.
Hang in there and keep posting questions, etc. here. There are MANY incredibly helpful, kind, generous souls here who will be happy to help in any way possible.
You're not alone - you can do this.
42 yr. old female
Rectal cancer Stage 3C T3 N1 M0 - Sept 2015
28 rounds radiation w/Xeloda - Nov - Dec 2015
2/17/16 - Surgery to remove rectal tumor, lymph nodes (2/20+), ovaries & fallopian tubes, temp. ileostomy
3/28/16 - 9/26/16 -12 rounds FOLFOX w/full oxi
Ileo reversal 10/27/16; Port removed 12/1/16
Lung mets confirmed 2/6/17
March-May 2017 - brain mets; brain rad. 5/9-5/29/17