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Thread: What are your tips, tricks, innovations for recovery after surgery??

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    1

    What are your tips, tricks, innovations for recovery after surgery??

    My daughter is on this site on occasion and is having surgery in the early summer. She is 20 and it looks like a T3-L3 fusion. She is about 50/50 on her angles. I have read a lot of things on this on site, like today and the discussion about the hospital bed.

    I want her to be as comfortable as possible and provide what ever we can to make her recovery experience as painless as it can be.

    What are the tips, tricks innovations, things you wish you had discovered earlier in your recovery that made it easier. The hospital bed may be a good idea, how about brushing your teeth, what type of chairs are most comfortable, things good to eat, riding in a car, (we have a 220 mile ride home)etc etc. Let you imagination run as these ideas would probably be helpful to a lot of future patients. Thank you

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Central NJ
    Posts
    1,956
    Hi,

    What a good dad you are to look into these things for your daughter. A 220 mile ride home--oh my.

    I was also fused T3-L3 almost 5 months ago. I am very happy with m progress, and I would bet as a 20 year old (26 years younger than me) she will recover even more quickly.

    I did without a hospital bed and was fine. Brushing teeth at first was a trick. I'd either spit the water all over my shirt, or hit the back wall behind the sink. After a day or so I used a glass to spit INTO. LOL

    At first I did best with straight back chairs that I had a few pillows behind my back. I couldn't sit on a regular sofa for at least a month; even with pillows it just wasn't comfy. Now I can sit anywhere no problem, although I do need pillows for support sometimes.

    At first you don't eat much because the stomach shrinks so much after surgery. Plus some of the meds might lessen your appetite. She should just eat whatever she can. Nothing is off limits, except what seems repulsive to her. For example, I have always loved sushi. A few weeks after surgery, one of my kids suggested having it and I looked at him like he had 3 heads. My taste for that didn't come back for a few months.

    When I first came here, I was petrofied. I'd suggest that your daughter go back and read some of my old posts asking (what I thought were) stupid questions. Everyone told me and now I realize it is true that no question about this is stupid if it bothers you. Your daughter can click on my name and then select 'show all posts created by' to pull up old posts.

    Feel free to ask anything else,
    __________________________________________
    Debbe - 50 yrs old

    Milwalkee Brace 1976 - 79
    Told by Dr. my curve would never progress

    Surgery 10/15/08 in NYC by Dr. Michael Neuwirth
    Pre-Surgury Thorasic: 66 degrees
    Pre-Surgery Lumbar: 66 degrees

    Post-Surgery Thorasic: 34 degrees
    Post-Surgery Lumbar: 22 degrees

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Salina, Ks
    Posts
    126
    Pillow, pillows, pillows and more pillows! Did I say pillows? I no longer use them but boy- they were the only life saver for the ride home, sitting in a chair, (I still haven't found a comfortable chair) and definitely for sleeping. I even had 5 pillows around me at all times in the hospital.

    Brushing teeth- I couldn't bend to get over the sink - a glass or something to use and then clean out works well.

    Shaving legs- I got an epilater and started using it before surgery. I absolutely love it and would never go back to shaving again.

    Washing hair was a real challenge until I could get in the shower. The shampoo cap they had at the hospital wasn't the best in the west but after several days of no hair washing, I thought it was a godsend.

    Dressing- they provide aids at the hospital. The "sock putter on" was an absolute neccessity and the grabbers work well. Dressing is a talent you just have to experiment with. I am still quite and sight and will be for the rest of my life with the lumbar fusion. I laugh and say when I am in a nursing home they will say- somebody take care of the one in room 304- she can't bend at the waist to do anything for herself!!

    If anyone has good pedicure ideas for lumbar fusions, I would love to hear them. I hate to think of paying for one but may have to. I can stretch just enough to clip my toenails now.

    Won't go into bathroom needs- others used some aids but I was just stubborn no matter what it took to wipe myself. The moist towlettes are really nice to feel good and clean.

    All I can think of for now. Good luck!!
    Nancy Joy

    Surgery- Posterior- Oct. 8th, 2008
    Anterior- Nov. 10th, 2008
    Age 54
    T10 to Sacrum
    Curve 65 degrees
    Very straight now!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Central NJ
    Posts
    1,956
    Dad with questions,

    I found this old post in which I asked questions right before surgery. The responses were invaluable to me:

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showthread.php?t=7858
    __________________________________________
    Debbe - 50 yrs old

    Milwalkee Brace 1976 - 79
    Told by Dr. my curve would never progress

    Surgery 10/15/08 in NYC by Dr. Michael Neuwirth
    Pre-Surgury Thorasic: 66 degrees
    Pre-Surgery Lumbar: 66 degrees

    Post-Surgery Thorasic: 34 degrees
    Post-Surgery Lumbar: 22 degrees

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northern California
    Posts
    6,949
    You'll find some helpful info here:

    http://www.scoliosislinks.com/PreparingforSurgery.htm

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Greenfield, WI
    Posts
    414
    Hi. I cant say too much more than whats been said already. And I will double the "WOW" for the long trip home. I was given plenty of meds for my 1 1/2 hr ride home and it was perfect timing. As soon as my husband pulled into our drive way I woke up crying. May I suggest a faster way home? Is a plane trip out of the question due to airport locations or what have you? Just an idea...thinking of myself, 6 days post op drving home in my car..70 miles..ughh...cringing.

    I needed to shower w/the help of Paul.(husband) It wasnt until about week 3 or 4 I was brave enough to do it myself. Of course, he was near by waiting for my call for help!

    Shaving....honestly was one of the last things on my mind. One its Winter, legs are hidden by pants...lol two-other than me, no one knew I didnt shave! lol Again, week 3/4 I attemped & found that it was easier to shave them while I was outside of the shower, with my leg up on the edge of the tub. Nair works too!

    Getting dressed...another fun & tricky thing. Rasing my arms up high & straight enough to get a shirt over my head made me crazy. It def. was a science. Now....7 weeks post op, no issues at all.

    Like Debbe said, have your daughter get on the site and look thru some of the postings. She will get tons of answers to her questions & advice.

    Good luck!!
    Lynn -30.... something
    DxD @ 8 yrs old: 10* curve-no brace-no nothin'!
    At age 26: Thorasic 48*/Lumbar 50*
    At age 34: Thorasic 58*/Lumbar 60*
    Posterior T5-L4 Fusion Jan 14th, 2009 w/Dr Tribus
    UW Madison, WI Hospital
    **AFTER: less than 10* Thorasic/15* Lumbar**

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    311
    Hi,

    I echo what everyone has said. Here is another thing I found really helpful. My dad made a bar on the side of my bed that helped me get up and down. He basically took 3 pieces of wood - two as the legs, one as the bar, and attached it to the side of the bed so that it could come off and on. I was really appreciative of that. It could be an idea for others.

    Best,
    Anya
    "You must be the change you want to see in the world."

    Previously 55 degree thoracolumbar curve
    Surgery June 5, 2007 - Dr. Clifford Tribus, University of Wisconsin Hospital
    19 degrees post-op!

    http://abhbarry.blogspot.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    388
    As long as her fusion doesn't include all her lumbar discs, she should soon regain some flexibility and be able to bend enough to tend to some of the most intimate chores. Turning over in bed was hard for me at first, so i suggest some smooth or silky type of night clothes to help her slide more easily in the bed. I think the others have covered most concerns otherwise . Remember it's hard at first, but better days are ahead!!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Huxley, Iowa
    Posts
    190
    I am fairly close in age to your daughter, but had a t-10 to pelvis fusion..here are my thoughts:

    I second/third/whatever number it is now the cup to spit INTO and another to drink out of when brushing your teeth. That was brutal.

    Someone will need to help her with showers for sure, I am just now getting okay with taking them alone...I am always afraid of falling, and I cant reach my shampoo unless I squat, lol.

    The sock putter on-er was a godsend. As was (gross I know) the toilet paper holder/wiper. It would have been awful having people help me with that.

    My fiance cut up all kinds of fruit for me because that is what I craved. I felt especially good after pomegranates, blueberries, and melon. I also got a juicer and my fiance would make me juice to drink when I wasnt hungry, that was amazing as well.
    Also, make sure to either get a sippy cup or one with a straw that won't spill. It helps for the first few weeks when she is in bed more than out.

    I wore tank tops and sports bras and pajama pants/shorts for a long time after. The sports bras were the only ones that didn't hurt to have on, and I was able to put on without trying to put my arms behind me. I have fairly large breasts (36D) so I felt like I needed a bra because it felt like it was pulling on the surgical site (even though it probably wasnt) when I didnt wear one. I couldnt wear the same size underwear for a while because it hurt too much, so I wore either none or a larger size until it quit hurting so much. Mine fusion was lower than hers though.

    Ask the hospital for the sticky plastic coverings for her back in the shower...they really helped a lot.

    I also dont think a hospital bed is probably neccessary...but put a chair by the bed so she can grab onto it when she is getting up...a sturdy, heavy one. Or the handle that someone mentioned.

    I had a toilet riser, but that could be because of the pelvis part of the fusion. It was really hard and painful for me to sit on a toilet (ours are really low). So I got a riser and that helped a bit.

    Lots of soft tops, soft pants, basically soft clothes.

    that is about all I can think of right now.
    Hope that helps!
    25 years old
    double 70+ degree curves before surgery
    Anterior on 11/11/08
    Posterior on 12/2/08 with titanium rods
    nearly perfect correction
    fused t-10 to pelvis
    with a hemi-vertebral osteotomy at L4

    Broke right rod at L4-L5 on 06/26/09
    Broke left rod on 10/24/09
    Revision surgery on 11/5/09 with vitallium rods
    Broke both rods again

    Had posterior than anterior revisions on 03/11 at the Twin Cities Spine Center
    Declared "FUSED" on 12/6/11

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    1,294

    Taking a shower post-op

    I put a plastic arm chair with a hole in the seat in the shower stall-- and sat gloriously under the shower.
    Original scoliosis surgery 1956 T-4 to L-2 ~100 degree thoracic (triple)curves at age 14. NO hardware-lost correction.
    Anterior/posterior revision T-4 to Sacrum in 2002, age 60, by Dr. Boachie-Adjei @Hospital for Special Surgery, NY = 50% correction

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