View Full Version : Preparing for surgery

First Mate
08-11-2009, 11:59 AM
Hi, I am scheduled to have surgery next month and I'm trying to do everything I can to prepare. Any practical suggestions would be appreciated. Did any of you find a shower seat or a raised toilet seat helpful?
Also, the plan is to fuse L-1 to L-5. If anyone has had simular surgery I would be interested to know how far you can bend and other limitations of motion.
In some ways I feel like I'm getting ready to have a baby!!:D
Thanks for any help you can give me!

08-11-2009, 12:39 PM
Hi First...

You might find this helpful:


As to how far you'll be able to bend, I have more levels fused, so I'm probably not the best person to answer that question. The one thing I can tell you is that your specialist will probably discourage you from any bending for at least 3 months. After that, I think you'll find that you'll be very stiff to start with, but will find more flexibility as time goes on.

Best of luck with your surgery.


First Mate
08-11-2009, 02:55 PM
The website looks looks like it will help a lot. Three months without bending --wow--I had no idea--. Thanks for the info.

08-11-2009, 03:55 PM
L1 to L5 is a short fusion. How bad is your curve? Does it cause you pain? Why do you feel it necessary to have the fusion now rather than later?

First Mate
08-11-2009, 07:53 PM
Hi Sandy,
Im sure my curve is not as severe as most. It is 50 degrees with rotation. I do experience conciderable pain. After two doctors advised surgery I saw Dr. Rand at New England Baptist Hospital. An MRI showed arthritis and degenerative changes. Dr. Rand described it as "collapsing". Since I am 65 now and the scoliosis is progressing at one degree a year and the arthritis is getting worse I decided to have the surgery now---while I'm still young!

loves to skate
08-11-2009, 08:10 PM
Hi First Mate,
I just noticed you are a Massachusetts person, so I checked your profile. You are definitely in good hands with Dr. Rand. My fusion is L2 to S1 and in the beginning everything you do is an effort, because you have to learn new ways of doing things. Now that I am 1 year and 8 months post-op most everything has become much easier. When I bend down to pick up something, I just bend my knees a lot more than I did before. I used to be able to touch my toes, but now I can come to 4 inches of touching my toes. I don't have any problems emptying the dishwasher or the clothes dryer. I usually get on my knees to change the sheets on the bed or when I get something out of the back of my kitchen cupboards. I have been able to do a lot of gardening this year, so even though I have to do a lot of things differently, I really don't feel that I have severe limitations. I am so happy I had my surgery and my experience at the Baptist Hospital was very positive.

As far as raised toilet seats, etc., any equipment you will need will be arranged for you once the Physical and Occupational therapists determine what your needs are. When you go for your pretesting appointment, you will talk with a Nurse or Social Worker (I can't remember which) and she will advise you as to what kinds of things you will need, such as a firm chair to sit on when you come home and whether you will have help at home, etc.

At 11 months post-op I was cleared to go back to roller-skating and I feel my strength and stamina are pretty much back to my old normal now. I am still seeing improvement. Feel free to PM me with any questions. You will get a lot of support from the people on the Forum.


PS: Are you a sailor?

08-12-2009, 09:50 AM
I used my shower seat for 2 or 3 weeks, and I STILL have the raised toilet in my bathroom (master bath.) LOL I should probably get rid of it now, but I'm just so used to it! I really NEEDED it probably for a few months. My other best friend was 2 grabbers I keep around the house. I STILL use one when I do laundry. Why should I bend over or squat down if I don't have to??

Good luck,

08-12-2009, 06:36 PM
We got rid of the raised toilet seat a month ago (4 months after 1st surgery). I found it necessary and the nice thing about it is that I used it in the shower for the first 2 or 3 showers after I was allowed to shower. The heat from the shower felt great on my back, however, I felt really light-headed so needed the seat for safety. The hospital physical therapist arranged for its delivery about an hour after I arrived home from the hospital. Our insurance covered all but $9.89 of the cost. The best 10 bucks I ever spent!

As far as getting aids ahead of time, I was sent home with a ‘spine kit’ which had a ‘reacher’ and a thing to aid in putting socks on and a walker. I only use the reacher now but the sock aid was great when I needed it. Also, before the surgery I found a really long shoehorn in the kid’s area of IKEA. It was $.99! I about flipped when I saw it – and boy did I use the heck out of that too! Not sure if they still have them or not….yes they do so I’ve included the link to the site.


Good luck with your upcoming surgery!

First Mate
08-13-2009, 10:18 AM
Thank you all for the advice. I guess there is no rush to get equipment ahead of time. I will probably wait and see what the therapist thinks I need. I will, however get the $.99 shoehorn!
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

08-13-2009, 11:06 AM
First Mate
Actually, the only thing I bought before my surgery were a fancy pair of sandals or clogs and never bothered with the shoe horn since it was quite a lot of work getting the socks on. After a few months it was easier to do.

I would definitely recommend a latex foam topper for the bed. 2-3 inches thick, it will double your cherished sleep time. This you would have to buy. The rear wound area is very delicate and hard to sleep on and the foam helps considerably.

The hospital will determine what you will need at the hospital. They will bill your insurance company for these items. The walker, grabber, etc.

Walkers are kyphotic generators. You don't want to be leaning forward all that much while walking. Also, the lifting the back of a hospital bed will bend the newly fused spine "kyphotic" You really want to maintain a straight or normal position especially in the immediate days right after you are fused.

I used old ski poles for walking. They work better for warding off friendly dogs who want to jump on you.

Make sure you have lots of soft pillows........

You should be on a surgical diet, eating only the best of foods to boost your immune system. You want to enter the hospital in the best of shape.

My advice on step stools, is to throw them out. Falls are not allowed. Find somebody tall.

First Mate
08-13-2009, 12:25 PM
Sandals may have been fine for Reno but I live in Chelmsford, Ma (near NH boarder) and I neen my socks!!
The foam topper sounds good as I have trouble sleeping under the best circumstances.
Are you serious about the ski poles? You sound like a joker and I'm so new at this!
OK--no step stools--no falls. My poor husband.
I am eating well to get prepared. Hope it helps.
Thanks for all your tips--I really appreciate them.

08-13-2009, 01:14 PM
I am not the one to give any post-surg advice, because I'm pre-surg as well. But. . .if you don'talready have them, try Uggs boots or slip-on shoes - you don't need socks with them (just don't get the black lining, because the black does rub off on your feet.) I live in WI. . .and it is frigging cold here in the winter, and I've worn Uggs, almost exclusively, for the past several winters. . .socks on/socks off problem solved.

My elderly aunt, who needs help with balance when walking any significant distance (like across a restaurant floor) SWEARS by the ski pole route!!

First Mate
08-13-2009, 05:12 PM
Uggs shoes/boots sound like they will work. I actually have the Ugg slippers (a Christmas gift from one of my kids) and I love them. The ski pole thing is new to me but worth a try.
Good luck on the 25th. I'll be thinking warm thoughts.
We'll have to compare notes after our surgeries!
Take care

08-13-2009, 08:40 PM
I agree with Ed on the foam topper--one of my best pre-surgery investments. On here I also found out about satin sheets & even satin night shirt/pj's. It made it so much easier to "logroll" in and out of bed or to turn. Still using all of these things. When I happen to sleep in a different bed with cotton sheets I can definitely tell the difference. The ski pole thing is for real. My p.t. suggested it but I never got to that point and went to 2 canes and then just walking. I wish I had tried it & done the walker a shorter time.

08-13-2009, 10:29 PM
I've worn the Ugg slippers all Winter and they've been great, no bending. But it's warming up now so I've gone back to my old scuff type slippers. I've got used to wearing my joggers without untying the laces. They are just loose enough to just shove my foot in!

Jo 71-09
08-14-2009, 05:37 PM
I'm a big fan of the satin pj bottoms and I used sateen sheets. They were very helpful when log rolling, as well as getting into and out of bed in those early weeks.

I couldn't use the foam topper. It just wasn't comfortable for me. I guess we are all different. I did purchase one and had it ready, but I ended up returning it. Better to be prepared incase it works for you. I know it helped so many people here.

08-14-2009, 06:29 PM
I was so thirsty after surgery and didn't want to have to log roll and sit up every 5 minutes, so I drank out of baby sippy cups :) No shame in my game! :p

08-15-2009, 03:16 AM
I'm dead serious about the step stool thing. They are so dangerous.

My mother in law fell off a step stool about 5 years ago and broke her leg. They ended up installing this long rod and they did a hip replacement. She is having all sorts of problems healing, and has done multiple procedures.

All of this pain so she could reach a cob-web. Definitely not worth it.

Janet's idea about the satin sheets sounds like a great idea since moving in bed is troublesome after getting home from the hospital. They will teach you how to log roll out of bed in the hospital. I kept the walker right by my bed for support when first standing up in the morning.

I went back and looked at Linda's list and noticed "handicapped placard" When I asked for one, my surgeon told me that he wanted me to park in the back of the parking lot from now on and walk in. Boy, did I crash and burn on that one. LOL He insisted on outdoor exercise only. Probably has to do with fresh air.

The notebook and pencil is a must for logging your daily journal. Its important to track your medication intake,what you eat, bowel movements, etc. I had nurses coming out to my house every day and they would ask all sorts of questions. "Gee Ed, you look wasted, what did you take?" LOL

I had constipation issues from the meds.For some reason Colace didn't cut it after 2 weeks. My recommendation, for the just in case your guts "turn to stone" dilemma is to have a bottle of Magnesium Citrate laying around. Morphine constipation is extremely painful....................................


08-15-2009, 06:26 AM
I went back and looked at Linda's list and noticed "handicapped placard" When I asked for one, my surgeon told me that he wanted me to park in the back of the parking lot from now on and walk in. Boy, did I crash and burn on that one. LOL He insisted on outdoor exercise only. Probably has to do with fresh air.

My surgeon agreed to give me the 6 month, temporary handicap tag. He had to sign the form from my local township, and it expired after 6 months. I appreciated it in the VERY beginning, but then really didn't NEED it until it was winter, after I had started driving. If I went to the grocery store, I'd park RIGHT UP FRONT. 1) so I didn't have to push a cart too far, and 2) so I wouldn't take any chances slipping on ice. The last thing I wanted to do was fall.

08-15-2009, 01:53 PM
I am also pre-op so have not yet "graduated" to the post-op class. However, I purchased a body pillow which is already giving me comfort. In addition to borrowing a raised toilet, shower seat, and sock putter-oner, I bought three plastic drawers for my post-op clothing. I've placed the drawers on top of my waist-high dresser so I won't need to bend to get my clothes. One drawer is for underwear and night clothes, another is for loose pants, and the third is for loose tops. Hope this helps.


First Mate
08-19-2009, 06:15 PM
Thank you all, again, for sharing all your ideas. I'm into satin now and will try the foam topper and look for the Uggs.--oh--and the ski poles.
My pre-op appointment is Monday so I'm getting close!