If you are about to have surgery, there are many things you can plan for in order to keep yourself as safe and comfortable as possible while also preventing complications. Read on to learn more about how to prepare for surgery.
Moving around is tough after most surgeries. It can be especially difficult if you’ve had abdominal surgery, replacement of a joint, heart surgery, or a procedure that requires you to keep weight off an arm or leg when you get home. Some of the most difficult mobility tasks will be:
- Getting in and out of bed. You may need to rent a hospital bed or plan to sleep in a recliner until bed mobility becomes easier.
- Getting up and down stairs. If your bedroom is upstairs, plan other sleeping arrangements on the main level until you’ve recovered. Avoid stairs as much as possible and look into home modifications that make your home safer. Click here for more details.
- Carrying items throughout the house. This will be especially problematic if you have to use a walker or crutches when you get home. Simple tasks such as carrying a plate of food or a glass of water will be very difficult. Set up stations in several rooms where you can eat and drink without having to walk with your hands full. Plan to have someone help you with lifting tasks such as bringing in groceries and doing laundry.
- Check out this video tutorial to learn how to properly adjust the height of a walker or cane if you you need one after surgery. We’ll also go over how to use it safely.
You may go home with instructions to avoid getting your incision wet. Be sure to pre-purchase the items that you’ll need to cover your bandages. Also, make sure that your bathroom setup will allow you to safely get in and out of the shower/bathtub or arrange to take sponge baths temporarily. Click here for more details on safe bathroom setup.
Even if you feel up to cleaning after surgery, you may not physically be able to. Allow friends or family members to help with light cleaning tasks if they’re asking what they can do to help. Look into hiring an individual or an agency for cleaning if needed. Click here for more details on hiring help.
4.) Pet care:
If you have pets that need to be fed, watered, or taken outside, look into boarding for a few days/weeks. Boarding will ensure that your pets are well cared for and that you’re not putting yourself at increased risk of injury. Pet care also falls under the category of tasks that your friends or family members can help with.
Depending on the type of surgery you have and the medications that you’re on, you may not be able to drive for days or weeks after your procedure. Arrange for transportation to/from medical appointments and anywhere else you need to go. Click here to learn about some options for transportation if your family or friends are not able to help.
6.) Medicine management:
After surgery you may be in a lot of pain, sleeping on and off throughout the day, feeling nauseated, etc. These circumstances make it difficult to keep track of which pills you’ve taken and when. Before surgery, get your prescriptions filled and organize all your medications for at least a few days so that there is no confusion about whether or not you’re taking them properly. Make sure that you have your physician’s instructions written down for any new medications that are added after surgery. This is especially true for pain medications.
- Disclaimer: I am an affiliate marketer with links to an online retailer on my website. When people read what I’ve written about a particular product and then click on those links and buy something from the retailer, I earn a commission from the retailer.
7.) Calendar organization:
Even if you’re technologically savvy, use a paper calendar to write down important dates. These could include date of surgery, dates of future appointments, date when you can start bearing full weight through your leg, etc. I suggest a paper calendar because these dates are often brushed over very quickly. The haste makes it difficult to record them electronically before your forget something and then get confused about it later. Once you’re back on your feet, you can import the dates to your smart phone calendar if you’d like. Be sure to keep track one way or another. Trust me when I say that 1-2 months later someone on your healthcare team will ask about these dates. You’ll be much less frustrated if you have everything documented.
It is very common to have trouble moving your bowels (pooping!) for several days after surgery. This happens for several reasons including inactivity, decreased water intake, changes to your diet, and pain medications. Constipation is one of the most common side effects of narcotic pain medication such as opioids. Drinking plenty of water, being as active as you’re able, and eating fiber rich foods can help prevent constipation. Click here for one of my favorite high fiber recipes.
9.) Lastly, watch for signs of infection (click here for more details) and blood clots (click here for more details.)
By taking the time to plan ahead, your recovery after surgery can be much more smooth and stress free. You can spend your energy focusing on getting better.
If there is some question about whether or not an elderly person is safe to return home after surgery then click here to learn how to know for sure.