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Advice on preparing for surgery?

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Old 10-11-2004, 08:45 PM   #1
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texasmary HB Usertexasmary HB User
Question Advice on preparing for surgery?

I'm scheduled for surgery on Oct. 26. It will be laminotomy and/or laminectomy in the L3/L6 region (yes, I have 6 lumbar vertebrae). I will have some rods and screws inserted and they will do bone graft from my hip bone. I would appreciate any advice on how to prepare for the surgery and recovery. I have read the first thread on this board... but thought some of you might be able to share from personal experience. For instance, how do you wash your hair? I can't stand to go even one day without washing my hair. Thanks.

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Old 10-11-2004, 09:38 PM   #2
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Grand Junction, CO
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AlSmith HB User
Re: Advice on preparing for surgery?

You will most likely be in the hospital for a few days and I bet the first day, you are not interested in washing your hair. You will be on alot of pain meds to make you more comfortable. I slept most of the day of my surgery. When you feel like it, the hospital will have some people who can help you with bathing. You may be able to take a shower at the hospital. My sister had a three level fusion last month and was able to shower her third day in the hospital.

When you get home, a tall shower head helps. I taped plastic wrap over my incision to keep things dry. You may also be able to buy waterproof bandages. You should consider soap on a rope or liquid soap. Think about what you could drop and not be able to reach.

Good luck with your surgery and let us know how you are doing.


Old 10-11-2004, 11:27 PM   #3
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: New York
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mlachowicz HB User
Re: Advice on preparing for surgery?

Hi There!
First off, I wanted to wish you the best of luck and a speedy recovery!
Invest in a walker, and a higher seat for the toilet bowl.

Old 10-12-2004, 04:15 AM   #4
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flyonthewall HB User
Re: Advice on preparing for surgery?

I have a grabber in every room. They are so handy and can even pick up dropped pills. And grab bars in and near the tub. I couldn't take a shower until two weeks when the dressing came off. Maybe you could kneel on a chair and put your head over the sink. I live alone and my biggest frustration was not being able to clip my toenails. Because I live alone I spent a couple of weeks in rehab.

Old 10-12-2004, 04:19 AM   #5
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Michigan
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back2basics HB User
Re: Advice on preparing for surgery?

First of all I want to wish you the best outcome for your upcoming surgery. Keep a positive attitude and follow Dr's. instruction. Now for a couple of things that I learned the hardway (as you know hind-sight is 20-20).

1. Clip your toenails before going in for surgery. It will be awhile before you can do this again. (This really just bugged me after surgery)

2. Make sure you have a pair of slip on shoes that are very comfortable. Much easier to get on and off by yourself.

3. Put at least a couple weeks worth of comfortable clothing at a place that you can actually reach them yourself.

4. Buy some baby wipes. They clean a little better than toilet paper and wiping is somewhat difficult.

5. Buy half gallons of milk, juice whatever you like to drink. They gave me a 5 lb limit on lifting. A gallon of milk weighs 9 lbs.

6. If you carry a purse, buy a small purse ahead of time. Remember, 5 lbs limit.

7. If you wear socks, make sure you have some that are rather loose fitting. I had issues with my ankle swelling for about 3 months. Dr's swore it had nothing to do with surgery, but couldn't find anything else wrong. The swelling stopped about 6 months post surgery. Tight fitting socks, just made it worse.

8. Rearrange your cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom, so that you can easily reach, (without bending), the things you will need most frequently.

9. Do not sit up for the first 24 hours after surgery. A nurse ask me if I would like to sit up and I thought I could, so she adjusted my bed to lift my head. This gave me a tremendous headache and should not have been offered. (A word of warning)

Also, I was able to shower 2 days after surgery. I had staples and they taped over them with a surgical tape to hold the incision and it made it somewhat waterproof. I didn't shower without my husband in the house, just in case I had any problems. All my soaps and shampoo, etc were on a shelf I could easily reach. If you do drop something, leave it for someone else to pick up. "no bending".

Hope this is helpful. Dee
12/2/2008-Diagnosed Dilated Cardiomyopathy
Left Bundle Branch Block
5/7/2003-Laminectomy/Discectomy L4/L5 & L5/S1

Old 10-12-2004, 05:09 AM   #6
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flyonthewall HB User
Re: Advice on preparing for surgery?

I had my surgery in June and I wore flip flops all summer.

Old 10-12-2004, 12:10 PM   #7
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ladybird988 HB Userladybird988 HB User
Re: Advice on preparing for surgery?

I had a microdisckectomy July 1st and am still wearing slip on shoes. Get warm slip on shoes for this winter (if you are in a cold climate) that you can do your walks in because it's too hard to put socks on. the doctor wants you to walk afterwards in your recovery so you need slip on shoes with good arch support. Low to no heel. There are lots of slip ons but with little arch support so it takes some shopping. And you want to do that BEFORE surgery.

Frankly, I tried to pick up the shower soap with the grabber and it slipped free every time! Soap on a rope a good idea.

I wish I'd bought a raised toilet seat too.

You can buy the grabbers at drug stores now for about $8.00. Get the deluxe one with the wider grabber head so you can pick up bigger stuff (up to 5 lbs). I'd like to have a grabber in every room. I even dust the furniture with mine, and grab food out of the fridge with it. I use it to pick up the dog's tennis ball too to throw it for her!

Another thing I didn't see mentioned is loose dresses/pants. I have a nerve impingement so can't have anything pressing my back, hips or waist. I got some loose fitting slip over the head dresses at Goodwill and wore them all summer. Putting on pants is hard. Skirts are good if they are loose in the waist.

Old 10-12-2004, 12:36 PM   #8
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mel1977 HB User
Re: Advice on preparing for surgery?

I had my sister and mom help me wash my hair. I would sit in a chair at the kitchen sink and they would use a hose to wash my hair for me. You could cover the incision site with a plastic bag and good tape as to not the the site wet. Talk to your doc to see if you will be able to do that.

Old 10-12-2004, 09:21 PM   #9
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Austin, Texas
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TexasWildRose04 HB User
Re: Advice on preparing for surgery?

I had a discectomy/Laminectomy back on June 2... at L5-S1...... I was in the hospital overnight...basically slept the remainder of the day after surgery and that wasnt interested in washing my hair or a shower at that time.... Neurosurgeon told me that it was fine for me to take a shower the day I got home... just to change the bandage on my insision sight after the shower... he had me use those extra large bandaids on it....he told me after 10 days it was fine to take baths...He told me it was fine to bend... said my back would not break....just not to over do it...he told me for example if I dropped something in the was no problem to bend over and pick it up....I didnt use a raised toilet chair or grabber or anything.... he never mentioned any of that to me.... also he told me my lifting limit was what a 12 pack of soda weighted....basically after 10 days after I had my stitches removed he told me to resume my normal everyday activities... but to be careful....but with all that said.. that could be why I am having pain again... that started basically 2 weeks after my surgery... because now they are saying they think I have a reherniation....but just be very careful with everything you do.... Hope everything goes well for you.... Take Care... Keep us informed...

Old 10-13-2004, 04:32 PM   #10
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Honolulu
Posts: 300
Haw'nCarl HB User
Re: Advice on preparing for surgery?

Aloha All,

I am very surprised that no one has mentioned anything about a shower chair. This is what I have used since my surgery. They are very affordable and are very lightweight. Also there is a grab bar that attaches to your bathtub, which is also affordable, I highly recommend this combination. You can find these items at your local medical supply house. Another must have is a handheld shower with an extra long hose. I am not ashamed to say that I am still using these items today. The little no slip sticky flowers or ducks ([I]or mat if you donít want to stick anything on your tub[/I]) you can buy for your bathtub is also a good buy.

Good luck with your surgery.

3level laminectomy,discectomy&PLIF L3-S1 02/20/04
6cages 8screws 2rods (oh my!) w/local bone graft
Success! Yay!
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Old 10-13-2004, 04:39 PM   #11
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texasmary HB Usertexasmary HB User
Re: Advice on preparing for surgery?

I really appreciate all the suggestions. I talked to my doc's office today about post-surgery instructions and they said I would be sent home with some from the hospital. Kinda too late to go buy stuff I need. I have been looking at raised toilet seats on eBay, but I don't really know what kind is good. Can anybody tell me which brands might be good or bad? Is it okay to mention brand names on this board? Thanks again.

Old 10-13-2004, 05:47 PM   #12
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Rhonni HB User
Re: Advice on preparing for surgery?

Don't laugh.. but the best thing I have purchased since my surgery is my back brush. I hadn't used one before and I LOVE it. HA.

I also use the shower chair. WISE investment. And, I couldn't be without my grabber. A chair in my bathroom to sit on as I do my makeup and hair has proven very good too.

If you have easy to get into shoes, I recommend them. I have shoes with zippers which have been easier than tie shoes.

Make sure you put things within easy reach. This may require redoing your cupboards and linen closets.

My therapist recommended a bag for carrying things around in as I need to take stuff from room to room.

I started my collection of dvd purchases a couple months before my surgery. I have a nice collection for when mindless daytime tv is on aka Springer. Reading isn't a good option since the meds make my vision a big foggy sometimes.

This is all I can think of for now. I'm with Mary.. doesn't make sense to tell you what you need AFTER your surgery. Difficult to go shopping for it then.


Old 10-14-2004, 10:17 AM   #13
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b-peace HB User
Re: Advice on preparing for surgery?

You can buy the same shampoo caps and bathing cloths that hospitals use. Basically the shampoo cap has cleaner and water in it - you heat it in the microwave, put it on your head (better yet have someone help you) squish it around a bit for a couple of minutes then take it off and dry. Best part is no rinsing required. There is a cheaper version of no-rinse shampoo that comes in a bottle but it's a little trickier to keep out of your eyes and it is cold - brrrr.

The bathing cloths are the same principle. They look like a bigger pack of baby wipes - the kind you can travel with. They also can be heated in a microwave and don't require rinsing.

My husband's NS doesn't allow the suture line to get wet until the staples came out and he can't really shower himself for a couple of weeks after each surgery so these were a godsend. Check with your pharmacy about ordering. I think that one brand is called "Comfort Bath" or something like that. We loved them!

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