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Thread: Any advice on what to get for after surgery?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    83

    Any advice on what to get for after surgery?

    My surgery date is approaching quickly (Jan 21) and I am trying to gather as many things to help me out afterwards. (I'm being fused T4 to sacrum.) So far, I know I need a walker, bottom buddy, sock helper, adjustable/hospital bed, possible a toilet seat riser, shower stool. I've also thought od getting an extended rearview mirror and special side view mirrors for my car for when I return to driving. If you don't have a back up camera on your car, did you have one added or feel you needed it? Have I missed anything?

    Was there anything you found very helpful that you hadn't thought of ahead of time? Both in terms of practicality and just comfort.

    How long did you need to use these kinds of "assistive devices"?

    Thanks.

    The anxiety is really starting to kick in...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    1,160
    Hi,

    This question is frequently asked and everyone is different in what they need. The usual advice from Linda is to wait until after surgery and see what you need. I wouldn't worry one little bit about the car at this point, as you will not drive for probably at least 6-8 weeks.

    My biggest advice to you is to stock up on laxatives at home…Miralax and Senokot-S are what I took every day for quite awhile. You also want to have a bottle of Magnesium Citrate around, just in case of severe constipation (which virtually all of us end up with and it is very unpleasant). All of these items are readily available at the drugstore.

    You will not be able to pick stuff up off the floor, so several long-handled grabbers may come in handy (place them around the house). Amazing how frustrating it can be to drop stuff and know you can't pick it up.

    Plan for a notebook to keep next to your bed where you write down the times you took all your meds. Believe me, at first there will be a lot of pills and you will not remember when you took them. You definitely want to stay on a schedule with the meds.

    I never used the shower chair, and it is now cluttering up my attic. I used the walker the first day then never again, so it was not needed. Some docs don't want you to use a walker because they don't want you to lean. I never used a bottom buddy, some people do and some don't. Baby wipes are helpful though. I also figured out an easy way to put on socks without a sock aid.

    I used the raised toilet seat for a few weeks and it was useful. I had the kind which is freestanding and stands over the toilet, so there is no chance of it coming loose. You want to avoid falls at all cost!

    You don't need an adjustable hospital bed…I did use a hospital bed (flat, not raised) to lay in downstairs and watch TV, etc, but you might want to wait and see how you feel after surgery. They are quite firm and narrow so not always great for everyone.

    Your local medical supply office can deliver anything you need on a day's notice usually, so you might want to wait until you are being discharged or home to see what you actually need.

    You will appreciate comfortable lounging clothes…things that are soft and loose. Many of us had a hard time keeping warm after surgery so something snuggly is nice.

    You might want to think about how you will pass the time in the first month or two…you will be exhausted and not have much energy, but will probably not be up to reading, and sitting will not be comfortable at first. I am not a big TV watcher but was I terribly bored, so I found some Netflix or TV series I enjoyed to pass the time.

    Between then and now concentrate on eating very nutritiously, avoid getting sick, and exercise as much as you can. That was the only thing that helped me decrease my anxiety. And know we are all here on the other side ready to support you through your recovery.
    Gayle, age 49
    Oct 2010 fusion T8-sacrum w/ pelvic fixation
    Feb 2012 lumbar revision for broken rods @ L2-3-4
    Sept 2015 major lumbar A/P revision for broken rods @ L5-S1


    mom of Leah, 15 y/o, Diagnosed '08 with 26* T JIS (age 6)
    5/10 VBS Dr Luhmann Shriners St Louis
    5/16 6 yrs post-op, 24*T/ 22* L, mild increase in curves, watching

    also mom of Torrey, 12 y/o son, 16* T, stable

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    83
    Thank you for all that you wrote. I will definitely follow your suggestions!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    6,797
    Here's a list of helpful hints that I developed over many years.

    PreparingForMajorBackSurgery.pdf
    Never argue with an idiot. They always drag you down to their level, and then they beat you with experience. --Dilbert
    I'm sarcastic... what's your super power? --Unknown
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Surgery 2/10/93 A/P fusion T4-L3
    Surgery 1/20/11 A/P fusion L2-sacrum w/pelvic fixation
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    If you've signed up and are having trouble posting, please check your spam folder. An email was sent to the email address which you subscribed. You have to follow the instructions in that email. Done that and still having trouble posting? Contact Joe O'Brien at jpobrien@scoliosis.org.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    illinois
    Posts
    766
    A lumbar pillow for the car. Bumps hurt! I did get back up camera and larger rearview mirror. It helps. A cup with a straw. Stock up on small amounts of homemade soup and such. Mostly you won't eat much at a time. I did not need the toilet raiser but I am short. Depending on your winter location, you may need warm clothes as you will feel cold .and very strong legs. You will need them a lot just to move.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    570
    Move all your clothes in top drawers, so that you don't have to bend to get them. Put pots and pans on a countertop so that they are within easy reach. I was also concerned about driving as my car does not have a back up camera. I didn't install any special mirrors or cameras and doing fine. I am fused T6 to sacrum, not sure if there is a big difference in mobility if you are fused from T4 down. I can back out, but very slowly. Whenever possible, I just park so that I don't have to back out, but go forward. Do not hurry with a camera or mirrors yet.
    I am stronger than scoliosis, and won't let it rule my life!
    45 years old - diagnosed at age 7
    A/P surgery on March 5/7, 2013 - UCSF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Grove City, OH
    Posts
    275
    I had a playlist of Contempory Christian songs on my phone. I played it continuously and it was the BEST thing to relieve my anxiety from the first morning on. I also purchased a 10' charging cord, so I was sure it would reach my bed. I took headphones, but didn't use them. I kept the music really low.

    I didn't use my ipad til I went to rehab & I had a 10' cord for it, too.

    I used ALL of the gadgets/tools!
    Peg
    61 yrs old
    75 degree lumbar curve with thoracic kyphosis
    T3 - S1 surgery with Dr. Buchowski in St. Louis, on 10/27/14
    Working on healing in Columbus, Ohio!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Waterloo, IL
    Posts
    1,690
    Everyone is different, but I know I wanted to feel organized and prepared so I did as much as possible before my surgery. I didn't use a hospital bed or a shower seat so I'm glad I didn't invest in either. I had purchased 4 or 5 grabbers and left them in several rooms so I didn't get frustrated when I needed one and didn't know where I'd left it. I had extra pillows for the kitchen chair to sit on and also to place behind my back. I took a firm family room chair cushion and used it with another chair so that the height was about 5 inches higher. It was easier for me to get up and down from a higher than average chair. I had friends who loaned me lots of books. I also signed up for Netflix for several months. Having the time to read more than normal and enjoy movies is something that I enjoyed during my recovery. Best of luck. The time I spent worrying before my surgery was worse than my recovery!
    Karen

    Surgery-Jan. 5, 2011-Dr. Lenke
    Fusion T-4-sacrum-2 cages/5 osteotomies
    70 degree thoracolumbar corrected to 25
    Rib Hump-GONE!
    Age-60 at the time of surgery
    Now 66
    Avid Golfer & Tap Dancer
    Retired Kdgn. Teacher

    See photobucket link for:
    Video of my 1st Day of Golf Post-Op-3/02/12-Bradenton, FL
    Before and After Picture of back 1/7/11
    tap dancing picture at 10 mos. post op 11/11/11-I'm the one on the right.
    http://s1119.photobucket.com/albums/k630/pottoff2/

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    170
    Quote Originally Posted by ksmom0611 View Post
    My surgery date is approaching quickly (Jan 21) and I am trying to gather as many things to help me out afterwards. (I'm being fused T4 to sacrum.) So far, I know I need a walker, bottom buddy, sock helper, adjustable/hospital bed, possible a toilet seat riser, shower stool. I've also thought od getting an extended rearview mirror and special side view mirrors for my car for when I return to driving. If you don't have a back up camera on your car, did you have one added or feel you needed it? Have I missed anything?

    Was there anything you found very helpful that you hadn't thought of ahead of time? Both in terms of practicality and just comfort.

    How long did you need to use these kinds of "assistive devices"?

    Thanks.

    The anxiety is really starting to kick in...
    Hi,

    I'm eight weeks out and can tell you that all the advice below is great advice. We bought a bidet toilet seat that just adds on to our regular toilet and that has been INVALUABLE to me as I have found the bathroom buddy not easy to use and not effective. I've also had one ileus two days after I was discharged from the hospital, and just cleared my fourth fecal impaction/bowel obstruction last night. I thought I had plenty of laxatives on hand, but what I was prescribed was a "stool softener" and not a laxative at all. Do some research and if it were me, having been through now four impactions, I would load up on several different things. As of last night, we have finally figured some things out and today things seem to be getting better. You'll read a lot of posts on here talking about you certainly don't want an ileus. You certainly don't want an impaction, either.

    The warm water from the bidet helped so much. Please do yourself a favor and invest in a bottle of milk of magnesia, Peri-Colace tablets (which are both a stool softener plus a stimulant laxative). Get a box of glycerine suppositories just in case, and also, get a box of Fleet enemas. Trust me, if you need any of these things, you will need them at the worst possible time (middle of the night - home alone - you name it). That's been my biggest problem since I came home. Invest in a box of bendy straws. Keep a log of your meds and when you take them (and when you are supposed to take them). I also started doing much better once I started tracking my food and liquid intake. Oh, you'll think you're drinking and eating plenty, but at least keep track of your water to make sure. Things get pretty fuzzy on drugs. Just rest.

    So far, my recovery has been pretty typical of all the others detailed in this forum except for the recurrent fecal impactions/bowel obstructions that I haven't much seen addressed here. I will be posting my own "poop thread" under my "Fifa's Surgery" header.

    Oh, shoot, before I forget (I'll be posting this on my own thread, too) - Toyota tells me they can't add a back up camera to my RAV-4, so I'm going to be looking to trade soon. I can't twist to look behind me and the mirrors don't help because you can't see past the spare tire on the back. Meaning, if there was a kid on a trike behind you, you can't see that in any of the mirrors.

    My dad had surgery shortly after I arrived home from my admission for the ileus after my surgery. Anyway, the hospital he was at is literally a mile from my house. I thought I would be smart and run up there to be with my mom while he was in surgery for three hours - I hadn't seen them for a month. Long story short, backing out, I tagged the bumper on my old car at the bottom of the driveway, and I also ran over a 30-year-old crepe myrtle at the top of the driveway. Yes, I hit two separate things before I got out of the driveway. Yet, like an IDIOT, I continued on to the hospital. I felt fine and completely unimpaired and able to drive. In fact, I was so impaired that the fact that I'd just hit two separate things didn't really phase me. My keys have been hidden from me now until I'm off the oxycontin and whatever else I'm taking. Do yourself a favor - even if you feel like you're fine to drive, just don't do it.

    Good luck to you. Again, all of the above/below advice is terrific. Feel free to ask anything you want to ask - I think folks here have covered nearly everything.

    Gentle hugs,
    Fifa
    Last edited by fifa; 01-04-2015 at 10:54 AM. Reason: idiocy

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    112
    Your oxycontin story reminded me of a similar episode I had when I had my wisdom teeth removed, only it was Percocet that I had on board. I was in college and home for spring break when I had this done. A few days after the surgery I was feeling GREAT (this is the meds speaking) and I decided to take my mom's Ford Pinto for a spin. I drove to a place where piles of dirt had been dumped and all the kids would go there and ride their bikes up and down the packed down hills of dirt. Well, I think I was the only person ever to do this in a Pinto. Up and down, around and around I went. All this with a stick shift and I didn't stall once. It seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea to me at the time. Went home, no problems but that night when I realized what I had done i quit the Percocet and never took another. I still can't believe I did that.

    Especially since you have kids, have your husband take your keys away. These meds really impair your judgement.
    Before 39* lumbar at age 18, progressed to 74* lumbar and 22* thoracic age 55
    ALIF Jan 13, 2015, PLIF Jan 15, 2015 with Dr William Stevens, Honor Health
    Fused T-7 to S-1 with pelvic fixation

    After 38* lumbar

    Xrays
    Before: http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...7&d=1414268930

    After: http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...6&d=1424894360

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Meridian Idaho
    Posts
    103
    I was discharged with a walker and a pair of 18" tongs (for the bathroom) -- that's it. And I ditched the walker the first day home. The one thing not mentioned was a gait keeper. We used my husband's belt around me when we walked. We got many a laugh over "being walked" by my husband. But it was invaluable. I felt I looked like a dog on a leash. I would have liked something to help me with personal hygiene and the toilet paper fiasco, the tongs just didn't cut it! Rather than take a bunch of over-the-counter or prescription meds for constipation, I stuck with prunes and prune juice, which worked well for me. Drink LOTS of water. I also craved fresh fruit. I slept 12-14 hours a day. Would be up for one to one and a half hours, then nap for the same amount, throughout the daylight hours. At night, I usually slept 3 hours straight, then had to sit up for about 20-30 minutes. I was just so uncomfortable laying in bed longer than that. I slept in a separate bedroom and hubby would check on me periodically throughout the night. He wrote down the meds for me for about the first month or so. I didn't drive for at least 8 weeks, and I was content to be at home. I was so groggy from the meds. My husband came home from work every day and made me lunch as I couldn't pick up the pan to pour the soup from pan to bowl. He also had to pour my milk for cereal in the mornings. The things we never think about. When they say do NOT pick up more than 2 pounds, they mean it. You will know very quickly what you can and cannot do, but the meds sure cloud judgment. My husband went back to work about 2 weeks after my surgery and I was on my own.

    Would I do it again? Yes! Just don't put too many expectations on yourself. I had my first surgery in 2008, with five different surgeries following. I can now do pretty much everything. Some things I still feel I look awkward, but I don't worry about that.
    Les, Biker Babe, age 56 (at time of first surgery)
    Fused T2 to S2, posterior only, 8 Apr 08
    T3 fracture repair and revision, Mar 09
    Broke left lower rod and pelvic screws removal, Dec 09
    Scheduled to remove all hardware, replaced everything instead due to non-fusion, Nov 10
    Remove top 2" of rods and screws, Feb 14
    Pre surgery degrees: L40, T45
    Post surgery degrees: L8, T10

    Happy, joyous and pain-free!
    Surgeon: C Timothy Floyd, MD, Boise Orthopedic Clinic

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    83
    Thank you for the specific advice! I'm going to stock up on all the laxative meds I can find! Lol. Funny how that seems to be the toughest thing people deal with. I'm used to taking Percocet though not as much as I will be taking, so I have some familiarity with the meds. I'm pretty sure I won't want to drive if I have them in me. I'm not looking forward to the lost independence of this whole process. I know it's short-lived though, but needing to ask for everything is going to get old really quickly!

    I am stupidly worried about the Bottom buddy issue. I guess I will figure it out. Thanks for the suggestion about the bidet. I wouldn't have thought of that.

    This is my list so far of things to have on hand:
    1) Laxatives, laxatives, laxatives
    2) straws
    3)all clothes/things I will need on shelves or high places so I don't have to bend over
    4)grabbers
    5)bottom buddy
    6) shower seat
    7) maybe higher toilet
    8)lumbar pillow
    9) pillows to put on chair seats to make them higher
    10) body pillow for bed
    11) entertainment things
    12) wipes
    13)loose clothes and button up clothes
    14) good slippers

    I have the list from Linda as well.

    Anything else? Thanks!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Meridian Idaho
    Posts
    103
    I forgot. I didn't wear a bra for several months. Did wear a brace, so had those cute little sleeveless seamless shirts provided with the brace. Also wore camisoles a lot with a sweatshirt over. Easy to get off and on (even without help)!
    Les, Biker Babe, age 56 (at time of first surgery)
    Fused T2 to S2, posterior only, 8 Apr 08
    T3 fracture repair and revision, Mar 09
    Broke left lower rod and pelvic screws removal, Dec 09
    Scheduled to remove all hardware, replaced everything instead due to non-fusion, Nov 10
    Remove top 2" of rods and screws, Feb 14
    Pre surgery degrees: L40, T45
    Post surgery degrees: L8, T10

    Happy, joyous and pain-free!
    Surgeon: C Timothy Floyd, MD, Boise Orthopedic Clinic

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    45
    Front closing bras were a big help too. Much easier to put on and less irritating.

    Risë

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Yacolt, WA
    Posts
    1,525
    Pillow for your back when you are in your car. I felt like the "Pea and the Princess", that I could feel every stitch in the upholstery in the back of the seat.

    Remember, all that you need the day of surgery is to show up buck naked with your insurance card. Your surgeon and the hospital do all of the work!

    I gave my husband and daughter a journal to write down everything that happens to me postop: meds, poo, comments that the doctor makes, etc.

    S.
    Adult Onset Degenerative Scoliosis @65, 25* T & 36* L w/ 11.2 cm coronal balance; T kyphosis 90*; Severe disc degen T & L stenosis

    2013: T3- S1 Fusion w/ ALIF L4-S1/XLIF L2-4, PSF T4-S1 in 2 surgeries
    2014: Hernia @ ALIF repaired; Emergency screw removal surgery for Spinal Cord Injury at T4,5 sec to PJK
    2015: Revision Broken Bil T & L rods and no fusion: 2 revision surgeries; hardware P. Acnes infection
    2016: Ant/Lat Lumbar diskectomy w/ 4 cages + BMP + harvested bone + prayer

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