Surgery Post #1:
Pre-Op Preperations and Purchases
Please note: While my specialty is in hip surgeries, a lot of this information may still be incredibly useful to a wide range of surgeries, and not just limited to orthopedic 🙂
Surgery can be quite daunting. However, it is important to remember that while you are in hospital you will be in an environment specifically tailored for your situation and will be under the care of many trained professionals who will take care of you.
But what about at home? Most houses are not function-fit for rehabilitating from major orthopedic surgery! So here you will find some tips on how to prepare your home for rehab.
Start up your own list
Write a list of anything that pops into your head leading up to the surgery. I recommend having one on your phone, you might be out somewhere and something comes to mind, “ooh keep some walnuts in my bedside table for snacks!” or “omg! genius! set up the tressel table in my room” or of course something like… “download Stranger Things to watch in hospital so I can finally understand what everyone has been going on about all these years…”.
Keeping all these thoughts in one place will help make sure you don’t forget anything 🙂
Organise a carer
Depending on what procedure you’re having, a carer may be necessary for a week to maybe month or so. Your surgeon will be able to advise the length of which you’ll need someone spending each day with you.
In some instances, if you are unable to have a carer, you may need to look into heading to a rehab facility straight from hospital instead.
Make your place safe
Prepare your house to be as safe as possible. Remove any trip hazards such as rugs, cords, or furniture.
Minimise your sheets and blankets, if possible just keep it to one blanket or doona, if you’re incredibly immobile after your procedure, the last thing you need is to be constantly getting tangled in your own bed. (You may wonder if this is just me speaking from experience…well you’re right!)
Set up your main rehab bed or couch
This will be your day area (and possibly even night area), where you can sit on your laptop, read books, watch tv, whatever you like to do to pass the time while your body heals.
Make sure you have a space or bedside table for your chargers, bed-bound activities, medication, and water (consider a jug and a glass, so you can top yourself up as much as possible without having to keep calling for your carer).
It is preferable that the bed or couch is not too low as it may be difficult to get in and out.
Get a 1L water bottle that has a carry strap or handle on it that you can carry while on crutches. Once you’re able to move around a little more and you’re no longer under constant care it’ll be handy for you to fill up yourself and carry back to your day bed.
Set up your bathroom
Depending on the surface of your bathroom, you may consider removing the bath mat from outside the shower door. In some instances it can actually be more dangerous than the tiles themselves as it may slip out from under you as you try to get out of the shower, or you may trip on it getting in.
Some rubber-based bath mats may provide more grip than a bathroom floor. Consider testing before your surgery getting in and out of the shower with crutches, pretending you cant put any weight down on your bad leg and you can’t raise it higher than 5cm. See what you think will be safest.
Either way, I’d recommend for the first week until you’ve gained some confidence, to have your carer sit in, or just outside the bathroom while you shower in case you need help with anything.
Remember: “Call – Don’t Fall”
Do not push yourself – always ask for help.
For major procedures like PAO or hip replacements, I’d recommend hiring a toilet chair (that can double as a shower chair if you have the space in your shower for it!). You’ll probably only need it for two weeks, but it is a worthwhile addition to your comfort. Getting up and down from the toilet can be EXTREMELY difficult, painful and dangerous if you don’t have some handles to help you, plus with the additional height it means you have less distance to lower and raise yourself.
Set up a clothes table
If you have the space, set up a desk or table in your sleeping room (or whatever room you’ll be getting dressed in). Rather than bending over into drawers or mucking around with clothes on hangers in wardrobes, set up a bunch of clothes on a table that make for easy access once your carer is no longer required.
Grab all your loose comfy clothes
Trackies, Pyjamas, Slippers, Slides. Anything that is loose fitting and easy to put on. Getting dressed can be one of the biggest daily challenges, especially in the early days when you’re extremely swollen and sore.
Hoodies with a front pocket are invaluable if it is cold enough to wear them, the pocket on the front means for easy transport of your phone, keys, wallet etc. while hobbling around on crutches.
P.S. if you own your own crutches, there’s nothing wrong with razzle dazzling them! As you can see I have rainbow tape on mine – but after so many surgeries they’ve gotten a little worn…😅
For PAO it is recommended to purchase some high waisted undies that aren’t too tight. The incision is on your lower stomach where the pelvic bone sticks out, which is also where the waistband of regular undies goes. You won’t want anything digging into there for a while!
For a hip replacement or arthroscope, consider getting some undies with loose or no elastic bands, you may be swollen and the elastic might be uncomfortable.
Another tip I just learnt from a hospital roommate that had an arthroscopy at the same time as me, was to wear bikini bottoms that tie up on the side, especially for check ups with the surgeon and physio, it is a lot easier for them to access the scar area without you having to pull your undies down! And as an added bonus you can wear them loosely so they don’t dig into any scars or swelling 😀
Bio-Oil or another skincare oil is great to apply to your scars after your surgeon has granted you permission. It can help drastically reduce the visability of your scars.
Find out what to do with your meds
If you take regular medication it is important to know if you need to stop taking it prior to the surgery, and if you are allowed to take it on the day of the surgery.
Your surgeons secretary or assistant will likely tell you this information anyway, but it’s important to be certain so you’re not frantically calling the hospital at midnight the night before wondering if you should take your meds before fasting!
If you’re having a major procedure, it is likely that you will get a lot of medication afterwards, consider purchasing a Mon-Sun pill container to help manage your medication
Finally...don't be afraid to ask
Your surgeon and his team have heard every question under the sun, don’t hesitate to ask them any questions leading up to the procedure!
Thank you for reading my first in a series of surgery related posts, keep an eye out for future posts on:
- What to eat leading up to a surgery
- What to pack for hospital
- Day of surgery and your hospital stay
- Post hospital care and rehab
I hope this information was helpful – if you have anything you would like to talk to me about please hit me up on my socials, and if you have any other tips and tricks that helped you prepare for your surgeries please let me know!
Remember: don't stress or panic. Allow yourself a lot of time to prepare, and things will go smoothly 🙂
Hi! I’m Stephie
A long-time sufferer of arthritis, I cook foods using ingredients that can help control the symptoms, and aim to reduce joint inflammation.
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