View Full Version : Question: Tasks You Couldn't Do Without Help After Surgery?

Ginger W.
05-03-2008, 12:51 AM
I'm glad to know that the hair issue was shared by so many and I so appreciate all the replies. Hopefully, the following questions will also be of interest to other people going into surgery.

What kind of help did you need when you got home? In other words, which tasks couldn't you manage alone?

How long did you need the help for each task that you couldn't do on your own?

I realize that the answers will vary drastically because of differences in age, number of fusions, location of fusions, general health before surgery, etc. However, I would like to get an idea of the potential issues that will keep me from being the independent person I've always been.

Here's my situation: I live in Utah and my surgery will be in NYC. My daughter will be with me during the two weeks before I can travel home. Then, my god daughter, a mature 17 year old, will be with me for another two weeks. After that, I am planning to let people shop for me, but I am HOPING I can basically live on my own. Well, I do have my dog, but she hasn't learned any care giving skills.

Please be honest, and tell me if you think I need to make some additional arrangements. :eek:

Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!

05-03-2008, 07:48 AM
Hi Ginger,

I was more helpless than some because of my weak leg so I don't want to scare you, but it took me about 4 months to start cooking (with someone to help me get stuff in and out of the oven) and driving short distances, and about 6 months to food-shop (light bags only) and even longer to do laundry and a little light housekeeping. Arranging for a cleaning lady beforehand was a very smart move on my part. I still can't change a bed by myself. Also, if friends ask what they can do for you once your helpers leave, tell them they can make you dinners -- that was probably the most appreciated luxury that my family received.

05-03-2008, 08:05 AM
I was 44 yrs old when I had my surgery. I was fused from T4 to L4. I needed help taking a shower,the first few times. I brought a shower puff and shower brush so I was to reach hard to reach areas and had a shower chair, I didn't have a shower bar but that would have been very helpful. The four weeks of care you will have should be enough. You will be able to get up and do things yourself, slowly, like make yourself something to eat and dress. While you daughter is there maybe she can make a few meals to freeze for you to heat up when your alone. Have two grabbers to picking up and reaching without bending. Have food put on shelves where you can reach easily and drinks in small containers because big bottles of soda and milk will be to heavy to lift. You will be surprisingly very weak. You won't be able to drive for a few months so you'll need someone to drive you to the doctor and get your groceries and getting your medication. Have a lot of easy to make meals in the house and have a cell phone close by.


05-03-2008, 09:01 AM
Hi Ginger,
I had surgery Dec '06 (I was 45) from T4-Sacrum (also had Dr. Boachie!) I stayed at my mom's for quite a while-the biggest concern I would have is to have someone there when you shower, mainly because you will be very weak. Good luck Ginger- you are in terrific hands with Dr B- I wish you the best.

05-03-2008, 09:52 AM

I was fused from T4-S1 at age 54. You will need help with the shower. It was also weeks, months really, before I was strong enough to cook meals or do things like laundry. It was several months before I could do anything really physical like change the sheets on the bed, drive, or go to the grocery store. You will absolutely need help for at least 2 months, maybe longer

05-03-2008, 11:08 AM
Hi Ginger...

I didn't have any problem taking care of my personal needs, but it was quite some time before I attempted house cleaning or laundry. Also, it may be difficult, if you feed your dog on the floor, to get the bowl down and back up again.

If you can have someone do your grocery shopping, or get your groceries delivered, you will probably be able to make simple meals for yourself. You'll want everything situated so that you don't have to bend down to get it.

Best of luck with your travel and your surgery.


05-03-2008, 12:26 PM
Ginger-- you're so right in saying it all depends on what is done, age, and so on... Hopefully you will be able to bounce back quickly! That's wonderful that your daughter will be there in NYC for a couple of weeks. It will be pretty eye-opening for her and will be a time when you can be on the receiving end of the mother/daughter relationship. :) And that's great that you've got a God-daughter who can help out once you're back home. I know people have posted a lot of helpful tidbits in the past and hope you don't mind if I just put a couple of links here. They might be helpful to you, but don't feel like you have to read through them if they don't interest you. The first one is from a gal who was pretty much doing it on her own, and she had an extensive list of things to get done at home so she'd be able to manage ok after her surgery. The other is one whose daughters were helping her out for awhile afterward. Lots of people added their ideas and thoughts to both of these threads...


If you have the David Wolpert book, go over the appendix on getting your home ready... You'll want to move things to counters, etc., so you can get them... I scoot a kitchen chair over to the frig still, to get things that are down lower, and also still have a little difficulty getting to things at the back of lower cupboards. The chair works at the oven too. I am finally able to handle heavier cooking tasks-- like draining a pot of pasta and putting most things in the oven, but couldn't until recently. I haven't tried changing my sheets, but then why should I, when hubby will do it for me? ;) I did actually attempt it a couple of weeks ago and gave up. I also use a chair to sit in when I'm getting things out if my dresser drawers... Maybe others manage those things better and I'm a wimp... :rolleyes: But I try to keep my back pretty much perpendicular to the floor, and although I'm improving in my squatting capabilities, I still need a little support. Best wishes with everything! I think you'll do fine, especially with a little help from your friends. :)

05-04-2008, 09:52 AM
I'm about 4 months post op, and I'd say that Shoes are the most difficult for me. I didn't wear shoes that tied for about 2 months, slip ons and velcro ones only. even now, when I'm a little stiff in the morning, shoes are a challenge. I didn't think of this beforehand, and I have many many pairs of them. I find myself picking carefully which shoes I am going to wear, based on whether or not I want to try to tie them...

The only other thing I struggle with is getting things out of the back of the fridge or from the back of low cupboards, something about squatting down, then leaning into the space and not really being able to see in there, I guess. I solve that problem by just kneeling.

As far as right after the surgery, just imagine that everything is going to be a little harder, just because you will be in pain/on pain meds, so kinda groggy. Also, because of the disruption around the spine, sometimes I needed/wanted someone to pull me up if I had been laying down. I was fortunate and was staying with my mother, and I have several siblings that came to visit very frequently.

Hope this helps!

05-04-2008, 04:54 PM
I didn't think of that, but boy, shoes are so important! You need to figure out what is comfy, stable-- you sure don't need to lose your balance! :eek: --and that you are able to put on ok. I thought I had it solved when we got elastic laces for my tennies, for doing my exercise walking in, but it just didn't work out for me... I have one of those 24" long shoehorns, and figured between that and the elastic laces, I could manage... but the tongue would go all cattwampus, so it didn't work. I have a hard foot to find shoes for, as it's wide, but found some New Balance 801W's that are slip ons. They have worked great for me-- I now have 3 pairs. But they don't have the back heel, if you think you need that. Otherwise I wore comfy sandals all last summer-- and slip ons all winter. I just cannot reach down to tie laces.

Ginger W.
05-04-2008, 09:32 PM
Great suggestions on the shoes! I'll look for something tomorrow.

There seems like A LOT that needs to be done. Frankly, I'd like to get the entire house and my life in order before I'm out of commission, but that's a bit unrealistic. May 20th is coming.

And, Susie, congratulations on your first anniversary.

loves to skate
05-05-2008, 10:17 AM
Hi Ginger,
About the shoes. The hospital requested that I bring a pair of good walking shoes. The physical therapist at the hospital gave me two or three paires of elastic shoelaces. They are great and even thought I can tie my own shoes now, I still use the elastic laces because I can just slide my feet into my shoes standing up. Also more elastic laces were included in my package of tools, ie. a grabber, a back sponge on a long handle for the bath, a cane, etc.

05-05-2008, 08:58 PM
I still have trouble with groceries :(... walking around in the store holding on to the shopping cart is fine.... reaching the bottom of the cart to unload them onto the checkout counter is not so fine.... but then the little girl hands the bags to me and i just look at them dumbfounded.... like uh-oh... what do i do with these now?? i finally manage to get them loaded into my vehicle and head on home... but then getting them into the house is a major feat! carrying those bags up the front steps into the kitchen and heave them up onto the counter... then back out for another load.... Well... i just can't manage by myself anymore hardly.

I also like to cook in iron skillets. Those are pretty hard to handle anymore too...esp. leaning over to put into or take out a skillet of cornbread from the oven. Plus, just standing long enough to cook a big meal wears me out... I usually have to just sit and rest for a while before i can eat.

Forget about vacuuming....lol