Tips for Pre and Post Surgery
Surgery is stressful enough on it’s own so we put together a list of our best tips to help you out!
Strengthen. This one applies to before and after surgery. Ask your surgeon about starting physical therapy a couple weeks before surgery that way you go in strong and ready. As far as after surgery, ask your surgeon how soon you can start physical therapy or what exercises to do post-op. Set up your post-op physical therapy appointment ahead of time so you can get the day and time that you want. The stronger you are before and after the better off you will be long term.
Transportation. The person that takes you home will need to have a car that is realistic. If you’re having an ACL repair or a knee replacement then a corvette just won’t work. The height of the car and the ability to keep a leg straight out (if hip or knee surgery) will be crucial. Chances are you’ll be getting in the car a little groggy so comfort will be appreciated. Keep in mind that you will not be able to drive yourself AT LEAST until your follow up with the doctor and sometimes longer. Plan to use Uber/Lyft or a friend/family member for your transportation needs.
Medication. Not only will your doctor give you medications to take after surgery but they will limit the other medications they want you taking. Ask your doctor for any prescriptions they will be giving you that way a friend/family member can get those filled while you’re in surgery. The last thing you want is to get home and have to wait for the pharmacy to fill your pain meds. Ask your doctor about your current list of medications to make sure they are safe to resume post-op. There are some great apps that will help you keep track of when to take the medications you’ll be given. Keep in mind you don’t to wind up sleeping through your next dose of pain meds so delegate that task to someone else for the first day or so. Also know that some patients do get emotional as they are coming off anesthesia.
Daily Activities. For example, putting on socks or getting something off of the floor is difficult if you can’t bend your knee. Reaching for something on a tall shelf is impossible when your arm is in a sling. Lifting objects is usually forbidden. Either work on stretching to be able to move more easily after surgery, find assistive devices to help you or have someone around the house that can do these chores for you.
Clothing. Pajamas and daily outfits that are easy to put on will be a must. If you are having shoulder surgery know that you will need button up shirts. Getting in and out of a t-shirt will be your worst nightmare. Remember slings and braces may limit your clothing options so plan for this ahead of time.
Ice. There are many great ice packs out there but know that filling a ziplock with ice usually won’t be comfortable. You can find blue ice/heat packs at sporting good stores. These are great because you can keep a handful of the blue packs in the fridge and they won’t freeze solid; they can also be in the freezer for a while before they actually freeze. After surgery you’ll be on pain meds and the last thing you want to do is fall asleep with ice or a frozen ice pack on…that’s how frost bite occurs. Have enough packs so that you can rotate out while the others are re-chilling.
Prep your home. If your bedroom is upstairs, consider setting up on the couch or in a guest room for the first day or so. Making sure you’re near a restroom will make bathroom trips less strenuous. Keep snacks, water and your medication near by. If you will be on crutches, a walker or in a wheelchair then plan your route ahead of time. Move any small furniture items that will be in your way. Look ahead for other obstacles such as needing a step stool to climb into bed, a shower chair if you are non-weight bearing or a hand-held shower head to make your life easier.
Prepare your expectations. Speak with your doctor ahead of time about what to expect. Ask about how you’ll feel when you wake up, how long your recovery should be, what kind of brace you’ll have and for how long, how long you will be in the recovery room before you’re allowed to go home. Knowing what’s ahead will limit the potential for any surprises.
Financial responsibilities. Contact your insurance, doctor and surgical facility ahead of time to find out what you’ll owe at the time of the procedure. Make sure you are aware of any devices the doctor will order to be sent home with you such as CPM’s (for knee surgeries). Surgery can be stressful enough without walking into an unknown bill.
Compression. If your surgery is on your legs or arm ask your doctor about compression sleeves to help control the swelling post-op. If they approve the use of compression sleeves they’ll be able to point you in the direction of where to purchase the one they recommend.
Prep the night before. Most surgical facilities will have you bathe with a special solution the night before and the morning of surgery to reduce the risk of infection. Surgeons will also have instructions for how far in advance you should stop taking ibuprofen and blood thinners along with how late you’re allowed to eat or drink the night before. Be sure to get all of these pre-op instructions from your doctors office.
Surgery can be a stressful and sometimes scary process. Being as prepared as you can will help things go more smoothly. You will want to keep stress to a minimum after your procedure so that you can focus on rest and recovery. Keep in mind a positive attitude can go a long way in helping you get back on your feet. Remember if you have any doubts or concerns, call your doctor.