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Surgery tomorrow! What do you wish you knew?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:21 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello everyone, I would like to know if any of you have some practical advice for the early post-surgery weeks. Is there anything that you wished you had thought to do for yourself ahead of time? I have tried to get my home in order, and to get some comfortable clothing (not that easy of a task, I find...) that is easy to put on. I do not own a single piece of furniture that qualifies as a not too low, not too soft chair with arms that is straight, any advice?

Ladies, any recommendations for bras for someone who is "above average" and not comfortable going without for long periods, especially in the very hot weather we are having right now. I bought a front-zip sports model; it seems comfortable.



  • Carrot top, I love the name btw. So sorry to hear you are having surgery and I will pray for you that it goes well. If you dont have anyone to help you after surgery at home you might want to put all of your clothes for at least a week in the top drawer or on top of the dresser if possible,get a good grabber(you will need it trust me,lol),you might also need assistive devices like a walker to help you stand up and get out of bed or off of a chair. Although I had lots of help these things will really helped. Also you might want to run out to the store today and buy easy to cook meals or frozen dinners. Try to put your food you like up high in the fridge and cabinets so you can reach it, and I know it might look bad but put a few pans up on the stove so you dont have to bend over to get them out of the cabinet(a grabber wont pick these things up,lol). Basically you want everything where you can get to it without too much bending and with as little effort as possible. Good luck to you and let us know how it goes. Gentle hugs, Christine
  • I am lucky to have my husband stay home with me at first; after he has to go back to work though, the pots on the stove are a good idea. We don't have much freezer space, but I also have some good friends who plan to bring food at first. I have a feeling I may have a finicky appetite afterward...

    I had not thought about changing the drawers, mine are on the bottom. We can get them switched today.

    We went to a medical supply and bought a "spine kit" that I hope has things I can figure out how to use; they look pretty strange. I'm hoping if I need a walker that my Dr. will prescribe and insurance will pay for it.

    Carrot-Top (so-dubbed a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...) Trying to keep my sense of humor.
  • I found that the sports bras worked the best. I also had the proble with low furniture so my husband went out and bought a highbacked computer chair with arms on it. WOrked perfect and was the only thing I could sit on in the house. You may think of getting one of those. Also, make sure youhave a raised potty seat.

    Best Wishes on your surgery,
    CHristina :)
  • Carrot top

    I see you are having L4/5 done. I had S1 up to L4, so I assume your incision won't go much higher than mine is.

    So as far as the bra - my regular standard ones have worked well. I worried that the back would be too low, that it would be on the incision, but it isn't.

    I too, am well, - endowed - and usually am very uncomfortable without. During the hospital I did not even think about it, I think I was just hurting so much that a little uncomfortableness couldn't get through. It wasn't until I came home that I finally started wearing one again.

    I decided I would wait on a grabber, shower chair, commode (handles for lowering yourself to the toilet) or walker.

    Now I am home and now I have all of them. Between the home nurse and the home PT I have them all.

    As far as appetite, I have been incredibly queasy - fresh fruit that I cut and froze have been lifesavers for making fresh yummy smoothies that I have added protein powder to. This has helped. Oh, and cheesesticks - quick, easy and not too bad on the stomach.

    Graham crackers really help you move your bowels too - better tasting then milk of magnesia

    Let's see, what else:

    Do you have a pencil/pen and a notepad?

    I found it invaluable to keep at the hospital for taking notes when my Dr. saw me, or to jot down when your last dose of meds were - nurses tend to forget you sometimes. Take all kinds of notes 'cause it's really hard to remember things and every person remembers them differently when you ask for clarification.

    Do you have a plastic organizer to keep by your bed?

    Something to hold remotes, notepad, pens, cell phone, RX's, misc. things you might need? Something to keep all your stuff with you wherever you are 'camped out' for the day.

    I also safety pinned my cell phone charger cord and the computer charger to the bedside - I didn't want to have to chase down cords when I needed them.

    I think Kinpain has a pre-op list. If your DH can take it and get things ready for your return home - that might something to get. I'll see if I can find my copy - if I saved it electronically.

    Good Luck, I'll be thinking of you and wishing you the best!

    I am 13 days out (well 11 if you count the second surgery) and I am really feeling well considering all I've been through - it will get better.

    Oh, MAJOR BIG THING I LEARNED - I know you are going to be in pain - lots of it, but, if you can, try to be super nice and sweet and 'strong' post surgery.

    After 9 days in the hospital I got the opportunity to see how the nurses responded to the 'yelling for these D--- nurses to help, can't you see I'm in pain here, moaning groaning and making a pain of themselves' people.

    Compared to what I did, I decided I was going to be strong and nice and thank everyone for their help.

    My nurses were wonderful. Constant offers to get me a soda, or chocolate icecream instead of plain vanilla or a back scratcher, or - well whatever they could. They were impressed with how I was dealing with everything and were incredibly nice back to me.

    Golden Rule at work I guess :)

    There will be occasions where you get forgotten or something, but I still stayed strong and nice. I think it helped me too. Acting strong made me strong. Power of positive thinking.

    Yikes, sorry to write a book!

    Good luck again!

  • Carrot top, saltzworks made me think of a couple things. I know it sounds silly but if you use the cell phone or portable house phone like I did you can call your husband on it if you are really in a bind and he is in another part of the house or outside and cant hear you. My family laughed at me the first time I did it but they actually liked it better than me yelling out across the house,just a thought. Also I am a nurse so I agree with her about being nice to the nurses. You get alot better treatment if you treat them nice too(they are really there to help and they do care). I packed a bag of miniture hersheys candy bars and left them on the table by where the nurses wrote their names on the board and stuff. Everytime anyone came into my room to help(including housekeepers)I offered them some candy. Trust me I got great treatment and my room was always clean :) Oh and dont forget to pack something comfortable to put on when you have to do physical therapy(they will probably walk with you the day after) I hate hospital gowns so I wore my own clothes. It felt alot better then having my butt hang out in the hospital gown,lol.good luck sweety.
  • Christine & Christina, I appreciate your suggestions.

    My main concern with the bra was one that would be easy to get into and out of, since I won't be able to bend over to properly position everything. I suppose I had better order another sports bra.

    There are just so many things to think about, I'm feeling kind of overwhelmed.

    I really like the candy idea, I would never have thought of it since I try to stay away from it myself (too much danger of eating the whole bag). I try always to be pleasant to the people who are there to help me; I never could understand those who are rude & hateful—like that will get you anyhwere...

    I would love a copy of the pre-op list, thanks for taking the time to look for it. I will try to post again when I get home. If I have time I will check in tomorrow morning. Thanks again!
  • ....yep, this is a big issue for many of us, post surgery. Its caused by opioid-based pain medication. Drink lots of prune juice and any other remedies that you know that will make you 'go', from as soon as you start eating/drinking again after surgery.

    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

  • But I only did a quick scan.....

    A trash bag on the seat of your vehicle to help you slide in.

    This small trick saved me as I climbed into hubby's Durango

    Thanks Amy for transferring the list from the old site. I can't believe you are even up to it after your experience.

    Carrot-top the only other thing I can mention to you is just to think positively. I was out before I expected to and before I knew it it was over. You will do just fine. I'll keep you in mind and prayer. Good luck and let us know how it all goes for you!!

    Kelly Jo
  • Kelly Jo - THANKS!!!

    I'll edit the list.

    p.s. I did use a trash bag too - truly a wonderful tip!
  • I'm trying to paste the list in:

    Handy List for Surgery
    1 of 7

    Food Items
    • Soft foods including: Yogurt, frozen yogurt, ice cream, popsicles, jello cups, pre-made puddings & tapioca, protein bars, cereal, microwave oatmeal, bananas, chicken stock, microwave dinners, frozen pasta entrees, pre-made mashed potatoes, cookies, chocolate, lettuce, salad dressing, cheese, lunch meat, hot dogs, bread, bakery items. o Check for other soft foods that are healthier than this list ☺o People had a difficult time digesting food. Reports include nausea, increased thirst and fatigue so quick meals were essential.
    • Drinks – Plenty of bottled water bedside, Gatorade, Powerade, coke, ginger ale, other soft drinks, yogurt drinks, Ensure or Boost protein drinks, milk, chocolate milk, orange juice, other juices, tea, coffee with cream/sugar/sweetener, Black tea with honey/lemon that soothes the stomach.
    • Frozen fruit for blending smoothies in a Magic Bullet or blender
    • Protein Powder [will assist with bone fusion, particularly if you cannot chew much]
    • Bag of ice – small cubes
    • Ice chips to help dry or sore throat
    • Flexible and long straws
    • Paper plates and plastic cups
    • Candy, sugarless gum
    • Mints
    • Vitamins
    • Magic Bullet (or similar blender) for individual servings o It is great for individual blending/smoothies, etc. which I lived on for the first 2/3 weeks. It is carried in most dept stores, kitchen stores, etc. It is great at blending up ice and much more convenient to have the individual serving size than the full size blender. Magic Bullet also has a website.
    Page 2
    2 of 7 Shower
    Bathroom Items
    • Shower stool to Chair to sit in shower with soap/shampoo/shower gel on another chair for easy reach
    • Non-slip mat for shower
    • Hand shower
    • Long-handled Back scrubber
    • Nylon bath poof instead of wash cloth; easier to hold
    • Exfoliating skin towel. [Body Shop has these and they are great for rubbing off the dead skin and helping you feel fresh, especially if stuck in bed]
    • Toilet riser with or without side handles - $15-$25
    • Bedpan if necessary
    • Walker and/or cane per doctor Personal Items
    • Deodorant body wipes / wet wipes for freshening up (Drug Store has near the Depends. They are a large size.)
    • Pre-moistened facial cleansing cloths
    • Dry shampoo $5 from specialty beauty store
    • Powder – Shower to Shower or other
    • Face cream (I would suggest small sizes)
    • Hand cream
    • Body lotion for itchy skin
    • Lip balm, Chapstick
    • Mouthwash
    • Throat lozenges o Chloraseptic Spray
    • Kleenex
    Page 3 of 7 Personal Items (continued)
    • Wound dressings per doctor
    • Thermometer to check temp after surgery
    • Stool softener o Suppositories for constipation (Some found they couldn’t keep the pills downand/or they got stomach cramps from the pills) Handy Items
    •Grabber/picker – preferably 36” long. Perhaps one in bedroom and one in living room. $10-$25
    • Long handled shoe horn. $5
    • Pill Organizer or notepad to keep track of what you need to take when and to make notations of when you take your meds
    • Bedtray
    • Bell or walkie talkies to contact caregivers
    • Microwaveable hot packs –great for aching shoulders, etc. o Bed, Bath and Beyond carries some that have aromatherapy and are especially comforting. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
    • Cold packs in freezer prior to surgery
    • Phone near the bed. Get a wireless or wireless adapter from Radio Shack o Cellphone and charger o Blackberry, Treo and chargers
    • IPod, headphones, charger o Update your playlists
    • Books, magazines, audio books, crosswords, Sudoku o Booklight
    • Extra batteries for remotes
    • Remote controls for TV, DVD, etc.
    Page 4 of 7
    Handy Items (continued)
    • Plastic containers to hold and organize items you will use while confined to bed. Also to use after mouthwash or for small trash. o Put all the reading materials, crosswords, pencils, etc. in one. Put personal cleansing items in another.
    • Small, lightweight pitcher for water next to bed
    • Paper towels near bed
    • Small wash basin near bed
    • Small bucket for nausea next to bed
    • Small garbage bags nearby
    • Towel that lies flat on the bed beside you. Put items you may use on top then just pull the towel toward you to retrieve items you can’t reach.
    • Extra pillows to help with comfortable positions
    • Additional sheets, blankets, pillows near recliner, sofa, chair in living room
    • Wheelchair, if necessary
    • Recliner, if possible
    • Think about placing every day items at waist height even if it means storing on counters.
    • Pedometer for post-op walking program Clothing
    • Slip on shoes o Croc shoes with the open back. They are ugly but they are easy to get on, provide great traction, comfortable to wear and were recommended by the hospital.
    • Slippers - not too loose with good soles
    • Soft socks – NAP socks from Brookstone are awesome & keep your feet warm at night. $20/3 pairs
    • Bathrobe
    Page 5 of 7
    Clothing (continued)
    • Pull on pants – make them a size larger so they don’t bother your incision(s); check elastic so it’s not too tight.
    • Front buttoned shirts or zipper tops for trips to PT and doctor
    • Jogging suits
    • Sweat pants
    • Yoga pants
    • Front button pajamas – numerous sets
    • Camisoles or tee shirts to wear under brace, preferably cotton so it breathes. Try the ones with the bra built in. Comfort Items
    • Lots of pillows, body, small, wedge, cervical, etc.
    • Pressure mattress or pads
    • Have plenty of sheets, pillowcases, blankets, washcloths and towels ready for use. o Have sheets, blankets, pillows near a favorite recliner or sofa
    • If you are planning on much reading or computer (laptop) work post-op, consider a stand that adjusts in position and height like a hospital bed tray –Brookstone. $150; There are less expensive ones around $60-70. Make sure they fit under your favorite chair.
    • Linen spray to freshen sheets and pillow cases. Use lavender scent to relax and help with sleep. To Do Prior To Surgery
    • Shave, wax, pedicure, manicure, etc. right before surgery. If you have fake nails, think about removing since they may fall off due to anesthesia
    • Hair cut
    • Dentist
    • OB-GYN
    Page 6 of 7
    To Do Prior To Surgery (continued)
    • Update prescription glasses, both reading and regular if you wear contacts since you won’t be wearing contacts much in the hospital or after surgery
    • Give all doctor names and numbers to caregiver(s) as well as next to your bed
    • Put together phone numbers of all concerned family members and friends on one sheet
    • Check with your doctor for handicap sticker
    • All grooming/personal supplies waist high to avoid reaching/bending
    • Organize essential items at home to be within reach, e.g. telephone, shoes, etc.
    • Arrange for care - someone to be with you for most of the first week post-discharge
    • Make sure you give your surgeon a list of your regular medications including the dosage amount.
    • Give blood prior to surgery and/or family members
    • Checks made out for bills, stamped envelopes ready or online payments done in advance
    • Have some cash handy for family members to run errands.
    • Pet care arranged
    • Car keys and house keys given to appropriate caregivers Boredom
    • Magazines, books
    • Audio books
    • Crosswords
    • Sudoku
    • IPod (updated with playlists for recovery)
    • Nintendo
    • DVDs o Order prior to surgery if belong to Netflix or other service
    Page 7 of 7
    Take to Hospital (check with hospital in case you receive items during stay)
    • Button up pajamas
    • Bathrobe to cover up if use a Johnny
    • Hairbrush/Comb
    • Toothbrush and toothpaste
    • Mouthwash
    • Facial wipes
    • Body wipes
    • Hand Cream
    • Facial Cream
    • Lip Balm
    • Lavender linen spray or Febreze
    • For long hair, elastic bands to tie back
    • Loose clothing to come home in o Underwear o Front button top o Socks o Comfortable, safe shoes
    • Magazine, crosswords, notepad, pencil
    • Glasses

    On the day you come home:

    Make sure you put a plastic trash bag on the car seat for easy sliding in and out of the vehicle :)

    Message from Jujybean

    Many thanks from everyone who made suggestions. I credit all of you with contributions to this list and forgive me for not keeping track of where suggestions came from. Obviously, there are so many items here that if you purchased everything, you would need a separate room to put things in, however, I included many items so people can make their own choices. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know. Thanks in advance and hope this list makes life a little easier for you prior to surgery. Best of luck.
  • First I know I am late but you may see this tonight or in the AM before you leave.
    I did very minimal things.
    Packed a PJ outfit for home. Used their jammie pants to walk there. I was not allowed out of bed for 2 days had the cath in. Plus I was in such a haze I do not know who was coming or going. So I overpacked half the stuff I did not use. Magizines etc I was to zoned to read. I slept ALOT with the pain pump. Plus the nurses that had time would talk my ear off. Before I knew it I was on my way home.
    Coming home was easier then I thought. We used my mom's car since it sits low. I had 2 pillows which I brought to the hospy with me. I just got in very slow and out slow.
    One thing I will change before my next surgery is get my meds filled the day before so there is no stops on the way home.. One good hint on that one.

    Chapstick a MUST. baby wipes , deo.toothbrush (i hated theirs) headband if needed really thats it. OF COURSE MY MAKEUP LOL lotion since I was not able to shower.
    Extra bandages and neosporian for the scar. LOTS AND LOTS OF gel re-usable icepacks. They are heaven for pain!!!!!
    By the second week I was using my grabber doing laundry. some dishes. slept alot during the day.
    Hubby had the couch set up for me. I put my featherbed folded in half with a sheet on it. Plus to quilts underneath the cushions so I was up high. Like 4 pillows. 1 for head, 1 for under knees, 1 for under each arm. Felt like I was on a cloud.
    Phone, laptop, meds, water. I only needed the walker to roll over from the couch. (something to grab onto) I had the potty riser only used it once in the bathroom, did not hurt at all to sit there. Nothing for the shower but help the first time as I was dizzy.
    When I finally made it upstairs to sleep which I stayed down stairs because I was awake every 2 hrs to get comfy. I brought the porto potty upstairs THAT WAS HEAVEN. Kept some meds up there and down here.
    Hubby had food for me on the top shelf of the fridge.
    Anything boxed I wanted he left on the counter.
    Not much of a appitite mind u. Mostly from the meds.
    FIBERSURE/MIRALAX for sure. For constipation. Lots of water.
    I waited to walk when he got home or when my kids got home from school.
    Back brace not needed. Just once in awhile while walking it held a ice pack in the back . very cool. My ortho hates walkers as your not using all your core strength while walking and some depend on them. So he would not approve one when we ordered the stuff at the hospy to bring home.
    So pretty much its not to bad when you have someone home that can prepare things for you. Hubby only took the day of surgery off, and the day I came home. Otherwise it was just me. It was not as bad as I thought.

    Of course not everyone is like this. All different w/ surgery, pain levels, recovery etc.

    Just remember you will take a nice long nap tomorrow.
    Gheesh by the second day I thought it was 7 in the morning and it was 7 at night!!!!! LOL LOL :O :O 8) 8)

    Third day they had me walk that was the toughest rolling out of bed the first time. Up in the chair. Then reg meds then I was home by the 4th day.

    BEST OF LUCK HUN!!!! Thoughts will be done to hope all goes well!!!!!! remeber kick nurses butts if needed or the aides LOL your paying their paycheck }:) }:) :) :)
  • Thank you all SO much! Saltz, I really appreciate your efforts so soon after your own surgery.

    I have no laptop, so you won't hear from me for a bit. Thanks again for your good wishes along with the practical help.

  • i see ur still online or mabye u did not sign out yet LOL
    you will have happy juice soon.
    the worse part is prepping you and WAITING for them to get ready. tell the doc no extra coffee for him lets get the show on the road!!! LOL.

    i was at the hospy by 6am surgery was at 7:30 so i guess yours is a bit later than that.

    post when your able hun or have someone do it for ya.
    alot have done that.

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