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Housework after ACDF?

BuelaBBuela Posts: 67
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:57 AM in Recovering from Surgery
I finally got a surgery date for a two-level ACDF, January 3rd. Doc said that I should expect 4-6 weeks before I can return to even "light duty" activities at work.

But when you're married and have a house to take care of and kids (5 and 16) to contend with, you know that your "work" is not just what you get paid to do!

I'm trying to get a realistic idea as to what I will and won't be able to do (or shouldn't do, even if it feels like I can) around the house during that recovery time. I'm not the only one who does work around the house of course, but the things I do would typically not get done (or, let's be realistic, not get done according to my standards and timelines) if I didn't do them.

The big things I normally take care of include cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, washing dishes (we have no dishwasher), getting the 5yo ready for bed (bath, story, etc.), and making/packing school lunches.

How difficult is it likely to be for me to do those things? Which will I need to plan to have someone else do for the entire time? Which will I probably be able to do with help or modifications? Which will I probably not be able to do for the first couple of weeks but should be able to do after that?

I totally know that everyone is different, I'm just trying to get a general sense so that I can plan for whatever help I'm going to need.


  • My suggestion would be to let everyone else do everything for you and then add stuff back in on your own time table. Time for everyone to come to the table and help. You'll need to overlook how things are done or not done and fix it when you're fixed.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,877
    When you are first out of surgery and home, you will be somewhat uncomfortable, post surgical discomfort and getting used to the ACDF.

    Your doctor is your formal source for telling you what you can do and what you can not do and the time frame for each.

    As Dave posted, in the beginning get a lot of help. This will just make it easier for you to adjust.

    Also see that your house is ACDF-Friendly! That is have a comfortable chair with a phone right there, remotes to your TV, etc.

    This is the perfect time for take out or food deliveries. Hopefully you should be able to get daily help from your older child. You didnt mention a spouse, but they can also help out in picking up additional chores.

    The most important thing to do is NOT to overdue it. Don't feel guilty because right now you cant do the things you want to.

    All will happen in time. As weeks go by you will build up strength and should be able to do more. The key is not to do too much. Listen to all the limitations and restrictions your doctor gave you.

    In a short time (well it may seem long, but in the entire scope it is not) you will be able to get back and do so many of the things you did before.

    But dont rush it!
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Thanks! I definitely plan to get the teenager and spouse (yes, I do have one ::grin:" alt=":grin:" height="20" />: ) involved, and I plan to take it easy for as long as possible. And they already do a lot of the other things around the house already, mostly the cleaning (dust, mop, vacuum, put things away, etc.).

    Also, my parents will be here to help out for the first week or two (though that of course has its own set of issues wrapped into it!).

    What I'm mainly trying to find out is which of these types of tasks are generally harder to do after this surgery and will likely take the most time until I can get back to them, and which are more likely to be the easiest ones to do, so that I can plan for what is going to work best for my family for the time it takes for me to get back to those things. For example, I don't want to put a lot of time and energy into cooking meals in advance if I'm likely to feel up to doing at least some basic cooking (chicken tenders in a pan, potatoes and veggies in the microwave level of cooking) at least a few times a week by the 3rd week, but if I'm not likely to feel up to that for a lot longer, I'll probably make some stuff in advance or try to get one of those "we'll make decent meals for you and deliver them for you to heat and eat" services.

    So I guess the main thing I'm looking for is, at least in your experience, which of those tasks were easier or harder or impossible to do in your first 4-6 weeks afteer surgery.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,877
    Each person recovers at different paces.
    Depending on that, the tasks you can start to do will vary from person to person.

    For me, the hardest things was doing anything that involved me moving my head up/down. It also took about 5 weeks post surgery before I regained normal strength and feelings in my right hand. Prior to that, I really couldnt depend on doing that much.

    I know this is not exactly what you want to hear, but the major emphasis needs to be placed on the things you can do to regain as most strength and range of motion as possible. This will go a long way to determine what you can and can not do weeks after surgery.

    Still the best and the ONLY valid source for all of this is your doctor. They are the ones to perform the surgery and understand the situation the best.
    They can outline various tasks that you can and can not do and also provide you with a timeline.

    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I had a huge fusion, my back had "gone out" In late oct. Of 2008 & surgery
    Was scheduled for Feb. 2009, I thought I would try to think of as many
    Ideas as I could, knowing that I would be down for quite a long time.

    Every day that I could, most days before surgery, I would do one job,
    I washed all the curtains, could only iron one panel a day. Cleared
    Out drawers, shopped ahead, made lists, lemon oiled the cabinets,
    Cleaned everything and had my husband do what I could not.

    In Feb. I called the utility companies and asked to pay the current and
    Following month bills ahead. I recorded the house and car payment
    Drafts for Feb. And for March. I left the checkbook out but asked my
    Husband to use a credit card for purchases rather than keep up
    The checkbook, left an envelope for receipts, had the summer comforters
    Cleaned so they would be ready to put on in the spring, arranged for
    A friend's teenage daughter to come and do things for me after school
    One day a week. I tried to think of everything.

    Of course, not everything went according to plan, I was in the hospital
    Much longer than planned but at least I came home to an organized
    House. Two & a half years later, I know what I can and cannot do
    And can tell when I am about to reach my limit, I pull a kitchen chair
    Up to the dishwasher and can unload it sitting down.

    I use a grabber to reach things for me, I could not manage without it.
    You will figure it out but for me, lists and preplanning really helped.
    Good luck, I bet you will do fine and accept help!
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