Senior Veteran (female)
Join Date: Aug 2006
Re: Surgery this tues. Help
How are you feeling? I hope you're not too anxious. But that's rather normal if you are. Try to keep yourself as busy as you can until Tuesday. It will help you to not dwell on it too much and you won't be as anxious.
As far as using the bathroom by yourself, it will be hard at first, but you should be able to manage alone, even from the first day. If you need help, the nurses are quite used to that and will be happy to assist you. But by the time you get home, you'll be fine on your own. Some people have found it hard to wipe the back end, so you might want to have some of those flushable wet wipes to make it easier. You'll feel a lot cleaner that way, especially since you may not want to shower everyday at first. I had a reaction to the anesthesia and had very low blood pressure for the first 6 weeks. I wasn't allowed to shower for a while, as the shower isn't a good place to be if you start passing out! Those wet wipes were wonderful to just wipe my whole torso down when I wasn't able to shower.
You only have a few more days. Are you prepared? The more you prepare ahead of time, the easier and more comfortable your recovery will be. Be sure to read the thread at the top called “Post Surgery Tips.” It’s got lots of very helpful suggestions that will make a big difference for you.
Out of all the suggestions people gave me, the best one was to get a grabber tool. My grabber was worth what I paid for it the first day home from the hospital. Do spend the money to get a good one. Mine was $30 at my local pharmacy. I tried one called “The Gopher,” too, because it was a third of the price, but in my opinion it wasn’t worth a nickel. It was really flimsy. I ended up returning it and got a good one instead. But that’s just my opinion. Others here have used that one and had no problem with it.
Also, get yourself a little notebook to keep track of your meds. You’ll be groggy and in pain, so it will be easy to lose track of what you took and when. Write down everything you take! You’ll need to stay on top of your pain by taking your meds exactly as ordered. Don’t try to wean off them too quickly. You’ll heal better if your pain is under control. I kept a running list of questions for my doctor in the same little notebook, as well as notes to myself so I wouldn’t forget things in my fog during those first weeks.
I got a set of satin sheets (well, a cheap imitation) for my bed and some slippery pj’s. It was SO much less painful to be able to slide to turn instead of fighting the friction of cotton. This really was one of the best things I did for myself! I did end up taking off the satin top sheet and put the cotton one back on. The satin one slid out from being tucked in too easily, and it was way too hard for me to re-tuck it myself.
For the same reason, that is to make it easier to move, put a plastic garbage bag in your car for the ride home from the hospital. You can slide on the seat getting in and out and it will be much easier. Also, put a ziplock bag in the car in case you feel nauseous on the way home. If you need to throw up, you can just zip in the mess and no one will have to clean anything up.
Check with your insurance company to see what equipment they’ll provide. A toilet riser is very helpful. My insurance company provided a portable bedside commode, which can be placed right over a regular toilet. You just take out the bucket and don’t use it. No one has to clean anything out, but you have a higher seat and arm rests to help you get up and down. The hospital or insurance company may give you other little goodies, too, like dressing tools and stuff. I found my grabber much easier to use than the dressing tool, but try it and see what works for you.
If you have a front incision, keep a small, firm throw pillow handy all the time. You can also use a folded up blanket or towel. Place it directly over your front incision. (Well, over your clothes, of course). When you need to turn, cough, sneeze, or laugh, press down on the pillow to “splint” the incision. It really helps to lessen the pain!
You can expect to be mostly lying down for the first weeks, maybe even 2-3 months, depending on your particular case. Most of our healing takes place during sleep, so you really need to get enough rest. (That’s one reason why little kids heal so fast and old people heal much more slowly.) You need to walk, though, to get a good fusion going. Walking increases blood flow to the spine, which is essential for bone growth. Getting up and down from bed will be hard at first, so take advantage of already being up anytime you need to use the bathroom and walk, walk, walk. Even if you just do laps around your bedroom, walk for as long as you can tolerate. At first, that might only be 10 minutes. That’s fine! Then lie back down and rest.
If you have any specific questions, please be sure to ask us. We've been there and done that! We're not doctors, so we can't give you medical advice, but we can share from our own experiences.
I wish you the best, Jack. Please let us know how you're doing.