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is a hospital bed necessary

jayhawkjjayhawk Posts: 1,032
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:41 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I have noticed that there have been several recommendations for renting a hospital bed to use after a Lumbar fusion. I'll be having a L4-5 ant/post fusion 2/26. I hadn't planned on renting one, actually thought I might sleep on the sofa for while as I thought it would be easier to be positioned and change sides than trying to log roll side to side.


  • The sofa may be too low for you to get in and out of. I had a mattress made for my fusion. We measured the bed height, and guessed what would be the best height for me. My inseam is 30', and the bed with mattress can up to 27'. I also bought a 2' memory foam that was recommended. I used the headboard to hold onto while getting out of bed. This worked great for me, and I have it for a lifetime.

    The hospital bed is probably optimal, but with a little planning, this was fine for me.

  • Hi Jay! you are having exactly what I had 6 weeks ago-when it comes to renting a bed,I think mainly you need to think about the setup of your house.Do you have a 2-story? Bathroom downstairs or easily accessible for you?Some people rent them because you can adjust the head and foot-right after surgery it will be hard to get comfortable.Also the bed may make it easier to get up.(handrails)Also some people rent them in order to be close to family,the t.v.,computer,pets,etc-so think about your situation-and lets talk about it!!!!
  • Hey Jay I agree with Jeanie on this.6 weeks ago Her and I both had the same surgery. 6 months ago I bought a new bedroom set. A little high. I did not have the bed prior to my surgery and when I got home I knew right away after laying down in my new bed that I would need one. So I was stuck trying buy a bed off craigslist after I got home. Luckly I found 1 and a buddy went and picked it up and set it up for me. In my opinion I think that they are necessary. I am still using it in my living room because I keeep my girl up all night with my crazy sleep pattern lately. I think for all practicle purposes it was a definate need along with this auto recliner i got also. Just made everything easier on me. I also would say try to get one off craigslist and then resell it after to recoupe some $. Anywho whatever u do make sure u nice and cozy where u plan on staying. If You are local I have an extra in my basement. needs a mattress and control. Take care and like Jeanie said Lets talk and try to help you figure it out.

  • oh no! Money is tight, we have to pay the surgeon and the hospital cash for our 20%, I feel so guilty, I would love to not have an additional cost of a bed. Rick, based on you referrence to having a basement, I know we don't live close, we can't have basements here. I am not very tall~ 5'2", my bed is tall, it has a pillow top on it.I'm just afraid once in, I won't be able to change my position. Our pets are the other issue~we have a younger dog that is part dingo and part Rodesian Ridgeback. She was a puppy during my last surgery, so we are well bonded as we spent a lot of time together. Her favorite thing in life is to wake you up with puppy kisses, especially if she can get your ear :) not sure how we will manage, it will break both of our hearts if she can't be near me. I also have a cat who likes to sleep on you and is relentless if you don't open the door. Last surgery the nurses flipped out that we had a new puppy, I can't imagine how they will react this time. LOL I am worried about positioning. During your hospitalization, do the therapist work with you on this? getting into & out of bed, rolling, it just sounds next to impossible. how long before you are independent with that aspect?
  • I was given the option of ordering a hospital bed by my patient coordinator at the hospital and it was done by prescription. She made all the calls, found one, gave me a prescription for it, and made the arrangements to have it delivered to my house. Apparently, my hospital has a patient coordinator for every patient, at least on the spine floor, so you might want to check out with your doctor if you can get one via prescription, i.e. free.

    With that being said, I declined. I found a way to be very comfortable in my recliner for sitting (it's a matter of pillows) and I slept in my regular bed upstairs. I never layed down while I was downstairs. In my personal opinion, you'd be using the hospital bed for such a short time, you might want to make alternate arrangements, like getting a wedge pillow for your couch, or doing what I did.

    Then nurses will work with you on log rolling. Also, a very helpful couple of things is to have satin sheets and/or satin sleepwear to help rolling over in bed. Also, you can place a towel underneath you and for instance if you need to roll onto your left side, have you wife grab the towel on your right side and pull it as you roll onto your left side.

    I really didn't find the sleeping/sitting arrangements very difficult and I hope you can work things out so it comes out well for you.

    I didn't find it was too long before I was able to do these things on my own. The first couple of weeks are the hardest, so just concentrate on getting through them then things will be a bit easier.

    Feel free to ask any questions you have. Rick, Jeanie and I had the same surgeries within days of each other and we're healing about the same, with a few differences, of course.

    Three things that you MUST make sure you have when you get home is a rolling table to keep next to wherever you spend most of your time (bed or chair), a grabber tool (cheap at Walgreens) and a toilet riser (also cheap at Walgreens). You'll find how low the toilet seems when you try to get up after your TLIF. Those three things were invaluable to me.

    Take care Jayhawk and feel free to PM me any time or of course, to ask any more questions publicly. Many of us have walked in your shoes and understand what you're going through.

  • Hi Jayhawk,

    I just want to wish you good luck with your up coming surgery. I know its so nerve wracking right now.

    I was taught how to log roll out of bed by the nurses after my surgery, and you'll probably be up walking the same day with PT, they stay on top of you several times a day to take small walks.

    I have a remote control on my bed, so I was able to elevate myself and I had my walker right next to the bed, its best to prepare everything now for yourself.

    As for the animals I can relate, my little puggle Sassy sleeps right beside me!!! LOL I don't know what to tell you about that one, but my husband did keep the animals away from me for a bit so I wouldn't get hurt, we have 2 dogs and 3 cats!!

    We'll be chatting, so take care and good luck, you'll do great!!

  • A hospital bed is absolutely not necessary and I didn't have the money to waste on it. If you are sleeping in your bed, you might consider buying bed risers(I found a set of 4 for $20 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond) or having a handy family member build wood platforms under each leg. Also, many people recommend sating sheets to slide around on easier. I liked putting a beach towel under my waist/butt/back area to catch extra drainage as well as let my husband easily turn me in those first few days. You can put a high backed kitchen table chair against your bed with the back to the bed so you can grab hold of it to sit up.

    I slept a lot on the couch after all of my lumbar surgeries. Important is to have many pillows for positioning. I also kept my walker next to the couch to lower and raise myself easier. I did NOT buy a toilet riser. Gross. I am the only one who cleans the toilet and I wasn't going to clean a riser used by me and 4 other people. I just took my walker in there with me and used it to raise and lower myself. Remember to take your brace off before you sit down otherwise it's harder to wipe.

    Essentials for me were: Pillows and lots of them. Walker with a bicycle basket on it to carry cell phone, meds, bottle of water, pad of paper and ped to keep track of when I took meds cuz I couldn't remember at first. Reusable ice packs for immediate needs then heating pad after healing. Reacher/grabber tool. Shower chair but you can use a plastic lawn chair, too. Before you leave the hospital, you can request to talk to the discharge planner and ask for walker, grabber tool, and shower chair(if you like) and she will get it for you and bill it to your insurance.

    If you couch is sagging a bit in the cushion area or your bed is sagging a bit, you can get a piece of plywood in the size and put it under the couch cushions or under the mattress to make it a little more firm.

    Keep plenty of light snacks on an easy counter or shelf in fridge to reach. You will be constipated from the meds. Bananas, cheese, and yogurt constipate your further. It's nice to have those little lunchables with meat and crackers, applesauce cups, jello cups, etc.

    Good luck, remember that these things are really personal decisions, it may take you a day or so to figure out what works in your house. Oh, did I mention lots of different pillows? :)
  • You're going to need to be careful with the pets. All it would take is one pet jumping up onto the bed when you weren't expecting it, and landing on you "wrong" to cause a bunch of problems.

    Also I would not count on the couch being comfortable for you right after surgery. Perhaps because you are shorter it will be less of a problem getting down and back up from it...but most couches do not provide the kind of support you should have for support when sleeping.
  • I am very worried about our pets, a baby gate would come in handy. But wouldn't keep the cats out. I hate to barricaid myself away, this is the only socialization I have left, but I may have to! Boo! I get such love and happiness from my pets, but I know. Don't they say, therapist make the worst patients! Ha! 'wanna sleep on the safa, have a bunch of pets, have throw rugs, etc. Sure am glad I found ya'll. Will I be ready in time?
  • I bought an Ergomotion bed before my fusion, which is essentially a hospital bed. For the first 2 weeks, I couldn't even bear the thought of raising my head or feet. There is absolutely NO comfortable position to lay in for the first couple of weeks. I am 3 weeks out, and still unable to sit comfortably.

    The most important thing, as stated above, is the height of the bed. It will be a struggle to get in and out regardless, but any assistance you can give yourself is a bonus.

    Hope all goes well for you. If it helps, I am feeling much better after my surgery. I have nerve pain, incision pain, and spasms, but my original pain is gone. Every day seems to be a little better.

    Good luck, sir!
  • well, this may be a silly question, but in reading all of your posts and hearing how difficult it is to be comfortable in any position, do the pain meds at least take the edge off? I have tried so hard leading up to surgery to not become dependant on meds, all in hopes that they will work after surgery. My hubby keeps trying to tell me that after going through as much as I have for as long, I'll be able to handle the pain(with meds) I just hope so! The next 11 days can't go fast enough! I so want to be on the other side! Thanks! Shari
  • I have a suggestion for a bed. See if your Dr precribes it, if your insurance will pay for it. Some will if it is precribed. If not, alot of towns have VFWs and other types of places that loan medical equpment. Check with your local public health nurses. They know all the resourses for these things.
    I have had back pain for 3 1/2 years. Had my fusion a year ago las Dec. I still having problems and wouldnt trade my bed for anything. Yes, you probably can get comfortable in a regular bed. I just found that as much as you are laying down, no sitting except for eating and restroom for many weeks, it is very nice to be able to position yourself, and the rails help you to turn over, even with log rolling. If you are able to get one through insurance or loaned to you, I would say, go for it. It has been nice for me,
    Good Luck on your surgery. I am sure you will be able to be comfortable even though you have been on pain meds for a long time. I was on Fentanyl patch 100 mic, and 30 mg oxycodone every 4hours for BT pain, and my pain was controlled. It was a little harder for them to tweak it for me, but I was very well taken care of. Dont worry about it, the hospitals now are very much about keeping pain under control, as it helps speed up recovery.
    Once again, good luck and if I can help you in any way, pm me. Love, Robin
  • Hi, I have had 2 lumbar fusions, both 2 levels (L2-L4, L4-S1) and did fine without a hospital bed. I think if you live alone it may be different though.
    Fot the first 3 weeks my hubby slept on the pull-out couch, he's twice my size and was worried about jostlng me in bed as he changed position.

    I think we need to find what works for each of us, good luck to you, Lisa

  • hope you don't mind. It seems that the main advantages of a hospital bed are the raised height and the bars to help you hold on to move yourself. Is that correct?

    What about a matress topper, that I've often seen mentioned here? Is that useful to raise the height of your bed, and extra comfort when lying on your back after surgery?

    Any other comments about how to get comfortable post surgery would be very helpful. Can you even get comfortable?

    How long would these special beds / matresses be useful? Is it a matter of weeks or months?

    Looking forward to hearing everyone's comments.

  • I didn't have a hospital bed after my one level PLIF L5S1. I was told not to spend too much time in bed. Once home I was supposed to potter about. I had the odd afternoon nap but mostly was not in my bed. I suppose my couch is quite comfortable though so I was on that quite a bit.
    The only thing it would have been useful for is sitting up without having to use my own muscles!
  • I'm not quite 2 weeks out from a 2 level lumbar fusion and I have not found that I needed a hospital bed. I have a high backed chair next to my bed to help with getting up and a pillow under my knees and that is working for me.

    As far as the dog goes I would try and keep them out of the bedroom and make sure you have someone with you initially when you go into the rest of the house, Our ridgeback is quite excitable and has almost knocked me over a couple of times. She is quite happy to talk to me over the baby gate which mostly calms her down before I go into the room.
  • I have a german shorthair and a weimerainer, and both of them are a little insane. The weim (90 lbs) jumped on my stomach out of nowhere, and set me back about a week or so. We ended up putting a gate up and calming them down initially just like suggested above.

    Comfort post-op

    I imagine that everyone is different in regards to what they find comfortable. For me, it was (and still is) laying on my back with my knees bent. Another gentleman that I spoke to with a 2 level fusion slept on his stomach. I couldn't even imagine laying on my stomach right afterwards.

    A lot of the time I ate standing up. At times it was more comfortable to stand and walk then it was laying in bed.

    The best suggestion in the way of comfort would be to have a lot of pillows to strategicly place around your body. It is a science, but you will have it mastered pretty quickly.


    Pain was intense at times, but the pain meds kept the edge off. One key thing to remember is to SET YOUR ALARM FOR YOUR DOSE. I kept my dosage next to my bed with some water. When my alarm went off, I woke up eventually and took them. You do not want to fall behind AT ALL on your med schedule.
  • I had a PLIF of the L4-L5-S1 and had no problems in my own bed. Buying or having extra pillows was the only addition I had for my bed. I am in a firm king size bed without a pillowtop and all I needed was a couple of pillows under my knees for back lying, but the most comfortable position was side sleeping. For this I had a long body pillow to prop between my legs. I bring my knees up when I sleep in this position. I couldnt sleep in the recliner or on the couch during the first 2-3 weeks postop because they were too soft. I sat in a straight back upholstered dining room chair that I borrowed from my parents with a small six inch high step stool to prop my feet on for those first couple of weeks. It was the only chair in the house that wasnt too soft or over stuffed. Anyway, I wouldnt worry about it until you are home and see what changes you need to make based on your individual preferences. I got the most use out of a grabber to avoid bending over, a toilet riser, and a chair in the bathroom for sitting to dry my hair, do makeup, etc. (course being a guy you wont need that lol). I kept my med doses in a small notebook for reminders. Last and not least, take it easy and dont stress as much as you can. I worried too...i asked a lot of questions to my surgeon and the nurses, etc. they were a great help and the physical therapy folks will visit you in the hospital to help answer questions and offer some lessons in proper body mechanics once you get home.
    Good luck and keep us posted.
    Cheryl :)
  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    I'm post-op from L3-S1 fusion 2-3-10. My insurance would not have covered a bed so it would have been cost prohibitive for me to even consider renting one.

    After a week in the hospital I realized I needed the softness of my bed. I now know the hospital bed was much of the cause of my discomfort since it was so hard and not comfy at all. Our king size bed at home is medium in terms of firmness and we have a memory foam topper (imitation one, not the expensive one). I was SO much more comfortable in my own bed. Our bed is a bit higher than average, but if it wasn't I would hive done as someone above suggested and bought some bed risers (very inexpensive) at a place like Bed Bath and Beyond.. I do find that a 7 inch bed wedge I got at Bed Bath and Beyond is excellent. It's the same as raising the head of the hospital bed just a title.

    It is challenging the first few nights at home trying to turn over. But my doctor said he wants me to struggle a bit with that as well as struggle a little log rolling to a sitting position to then stand. All of those make me stronger and use my core abdominal muscles more.

    I was in the hospital for a week. Last Tuesday morning when I woke up that morning I was in such pain that I was basically afraid to go home because "If I feel this bad here, how will I feel at home?". They released me at 4 and we live 15 minutes from the hospital. Just walking into my house I swear I felt 10% better. Then went to my bed to rest. Hubby brought me all out pillows (I have a ton due to my neck problems I've bought every type of pillow ever sold). So I laid on my back, used the 7 inch bed wedge and one pillow for under my head, and then pillows under my knees (which are most comfortable for me and often recommended after lumbar surgery. I came home at 4 pm and by 8 pm after a nap I felt 30% better.

    I do roam the house a bit an night. Hubby will sleep in the guest room for the next few weeks or months, it's not fair for him to be woken up when I'm up at 3 am in pain or need to watch TV, etc. So we give each other space.

    Now, one week later I feel 70% better than when I left the hospital one week ago today!
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • I have a very high bed so I am concerned with getting in and out of it. I live in a 2 story condo my concern is also getting up and down the stairs to get to the shower  and to get to the kitchen. Is a hospital bed my only choice ?????
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