Sunday, December 26, 2010

After the Surgery

When you first return home or if you go to a sub acute facility, you will be extremely limited. 
At home, I had everything arranged (at least as much as possible) in order to make things easier.

I had a supply of sweatpants and T-shirts stacked up with underwear and socks.  It is impossible to open a dresser drawer and get things out, so keeping a supply of your daily items within easy reach is essential.  You will not be able to wear your jeans.  They will just be too tight along you incision area.  Stick with easy  loose pants and tops.  Your custom brace (which you will get in the hospital and wear for about 6-12 weeks) will feel more comfortable with a T-shirt under it.  Don't even consider sneakers, you can't tie them anyway.  I wore slip on sneakers or if the weather is cold, a pair of fleece lined clogs.  Works very well, no bending to get your shoes on or off.  A tight ski parka will probably not fit over your brace either, use a larger coat or borrow a friends that is 1-2 sizes bigger. 

I organized my hallway closet before I left for the hospital.  I put some towels within easy reach, soap, toilet paper, etc.  You will need to be able to reach this stuff.  There may be times that no one else is home with you and that extra roll of toilet paper inside the vanity is not within your reach.  Get a grabber thing.  You know that metal contraption with a handle that enables you to pick things up.  It works most of the time. 

I had a walker at home as well as a bedside commode.  During the day you can get to the bathroom.  At night it is a very long walk to the bathroom.  The commode can be used over the toilet during the day.  The height is adjustable so that you can have a raised toilet seat.  It's a long way down to that toilet seat, you just don't realize it until you have surgery. 

Sitting at the dining table for meals is sometimes possible,  you'll need extra pillow.  If that's not possible and you must eat in bed, get a over the bed table (like in the hospital).  I used this table for my stuff to keep easy access to it (tissues, water, reading glasses, Vaseline, lotion, medication, note pad, cell phone, etc.)  It is easier for you to have everything at your side instead of bothering a family member every time you need something. 

ADVICE:  you can purchase a walker, bedside commode, bed table on the Internet for a fraction of the price it will cost in the drugstore or surgical supply store.  Four years ago was in rehab, and getting ready for discharge.  The social worker said  "I will arrange for the necessary items to be delivered to your home".
The next day a top of the line walker, a bedside commode was delivered.  Billed to my insurance company for over $600.00.  I needed these items again in December 2010 (I had discarded them never thinking I would need a 3rd surgery).  I purchased the two items over the Internet, no tax, no shipping for $93.00.

Have a supply of gauze pad and tape.  The hospital or rehab may or may not send you home with a supply to cover your incision areas.  If you are sensitive to tapes, buy paper tape.   ADVICE:  I had visiting nurse coming in to do dressing changes for a few days, after that my husband took over.  Talk about it ahead of time, if you have a squeamish partner you may need to make other arrangements (son, daughter, friend, neighbor).

Take your medication as prescribed.  The first week or two after surgery you will still be very sore and have some pain.  Do not be afraid to take your pain meds, it will make your rehabilitation faster.  You will be reluctant to get out of bed and walk if you hurt.  ADVICE:  if you have a sluggish bowel (like me) your first bowel movement will really hurt.  Start taking stool softener the day before your surgery and continue it for up to 2 weeks along with plenty of water.    Use a laxative, if you really need one.  I also advise wet wipes for personal cleaning, plain toilet paper it rough and it will not be easy to reach your backside.  (I used a baby wipe wrapped around a wooden spoon).  Sounds crazy, but it works. 

So, if you plan ahead a little bit, you will save $$, time, and make your post-operative life much easier.

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