HELPFUL HINTS |
your surgery has been scheduled, there will be a period
of time prior to your admission to the hospital. This
time can be used to organize and plan for both your hospital
stay and your care after discharge. The suggestions given
here are a guide in assisting you to make the best decisions
concerning your surgical experience as well as your full
recovery. With this goal in mind, please feel free to
adapt any of the following to your individual situation.
LISTS - Making
lists can help organize your thoughts and plans during
this time. Included here are several ideas for lists
you may find helpful to you.
- No doubt you and your family members will have questions
regarding your pre-admission, surgical, and post-discharge
care. Making a list of these questions will help in
assuring that any and all information needed is obtained.
Keep the lists with you (perhaps in a notebook) before,
during, and after your surgery, so that all of your
questions will be answered by the appropriate people
involved with your care.
- Throughout your preoperative as well as your postoperative
care, many people may ask what medicines you take.
Be prepared by making a list of all
the medicines you take (both prescription and over
the counter). Include medicines that you are taking
for medical as well as orthopaedic reasons. Add to
the list any vitamins or nutritional supplements you
also may be taking. Be sure to also list any allergies
you have to medicines or other substances. Keep this
list handy and definitely bring it with you at the
time of your pre-admission work-up as well as the
day of admission to the hospital
- Depending on where your pre-admission testing is
performed, you may have several appointments before
your actual admission to the hospital. Pre-admission
appointments may include scheduling doctors appointments,
lab tests, blood donations, x-ray appointments, and
preoperative class appointments. Keep yourself organized
by listing the date and time of any appointments necessary
and checking them off as they are completed.
- Take the time to plan for your care after surgery.
Planning and preparing ahead of time will make your
experience much more pleasant and productive. By making
a list of who and what will be needed to assist you
throughout this time, you can be assured that nothing
important will be missed. Ideas for planning might
include a list of who will be available to assist
you to travel to appointments and stay with you after
discharge if necessary. The list might also include
your plans for home care assistance, meals, and rehabilitation
after discharge from the orthopaedic unit.
- One of the most important goals of surgery is for you
to return home and function as independently as possible.
By evaluating your home for safety and ease in functioning
before your surgery, you can avoid what may later seem
like large obstacles to your recovery.
VS. ONE LEVEL HOMES - If you live in a
multi-level home, consider where you will stay after
coming home, keeping in mind that you should be able
to climb stairs after discharge. For many patients
in a 2 level home, they get up in the morning, bathe
and dress upstairs, then come down to the first level
and remain there the rest of the day. If there is
no access to a bathroom on the 1st level, it may be
necessary to obtain a portable toilet. While there
is no set limitation to the number of stairs you can
climb, certainly in the first several weeks after
discharge, stair climbing may tire the patient. As
stability, confidence, and strength continue to improve,
stair climbing becomes more frequent.
one level home presents minimal problems since all
rooms are available to the patient.
patients who have been living with joint problems already
have some equipment in their bathrooms. While not all
of the equipment listed is required, the most important
one patients need is the raised toilet seat. If you
are not currently using one, you may want to wait until
you attend the preoperative joint class or until your
admission to the hospital. By doing so, you and the
occupational therapist can decide which type is best
suited for your bathroom. The second most popular piece
of equipment used by patients is the tub bench. This
allows the patient to be seated while in the shower
since standing without support is not allowed the first
six weeks after surgery. If you intend to use a tub
bench after surgery, please be aware that it will be
necessary to remove any tub doors in order for the bench
to fit inside the tub. Our recommendation is to purchase
a tension rod and shower curtain, and store the tub
doors until they can be used again.
other important aspect to consider in the bathroom is
to have any supplies within easy reach. If possible,
place shampoos, shaving equipment, toilet tissue...within
easy reach (waist to chest level) where there is minimal
or no bending over or reaching too far for supplies.
You'll find that this is the most efficient way to maneuver,
meets any position restrictions recommended in the postoperative
phase, and by far is the least likely to cause discomfort
or injury after surgery. An added plus is that you'll
be able to quickly identify when supplies are running
- Again, planning ahead can mean the difference between
a recovery period that runs smoothly or one that you
feel is constantly frustrating. Using safety and efficiency
as the primary guides, take a look at your kitchen.
Think about meals and the equipment used for them. Put
pots, pans, canned goods and cleaning supplies at waist
to eye level for ease of access. When using crutches
or a walker you're not going to want to be bending too
low nor reaching too high for safety's sake.
Use your upper cabinets or counter space to store
your most frequently used equipment.
If you plan on preparing meals and freezing them before
having your surgery, try to place them in containers
that will go from the freezer to the oven, stove,
or microwave to make life easier. (Don't make any
containers too heavy if you are the one who will need
to get them out.)
Remember the refrigerator too. The same rules apply
- try to keep the items you'll use most frequently
on the upper shelves to maximize energy conservation
and maintain any position restrictions you may have.
HOUSEHOLD - In general, most households need
just a few adjustments made in order for you to function
more effectively after surgery. As with all the suggestions
given here, remember to adapt what may be suited to
your individual needs.
Floors - Be sure that your pathways are cleared. If
you have small items sitting on floors or stairs,
you may want to put these away for now. If you have
small children at home, educate them now to put away
toys, books, etc. so that everything is up from the
Household Pets - If you have indoor pets such as cats
or dogs, please be sure that someone will be available
to help care for them. You will need assistance with
their care while using a walker or crutches. In addition,
consider the safety factor of functioning in your
home with an indoor pet. Remember, you will always
want a clear pathway and every effort made to avoid
Carpets - Scatter rugs should be placed away for later
use. They can cause you to lose your footing and perhaps
fall. Even those with rubberized backs can be an obstacle
to crutches or walkers so our advice is to get them
off the floors while recuperating.
Furniture - In general, patients are most comfortable
sitting on higher furniture with arms. Sofas or chairs
that are too low can cause problems bending too much
to get into, and straining too much to get out of.
Pick a comfortable, moderate height chair or sofa
for sitting so that your knees are on a level with
or slightly lower than your hips when you are seated.
Foam cushions on chairs or sofas that are too low
may help to keep you on the right level and are available
through the physical occupational therapy department
while you are in the hospital.
if the correct height for comfort and any position
restrictions, are a popular type of chair patients
use at home.
- Make sure that the things you needlike the telephone,
TV remote control, newspaperare within your reach.
You may want to place a small table near the chair or
sofa where you will be sitting after surgery in order
to keep these things handy.
FOR THE HOSPITAL
- Our advice for this is to pack lightly! The hospital
supplies patients with gowns, robes, non-skid footies,
and a small personal hygiene pack which has a toothbrush,
tissue, soap, and a comb. Most patients use hospital gowns
at least for the first day or two after surgery. If you
prefer bringing your own clothes, be sure that they are
comfortable and loose fitting. They also should allow
for easy access to the operative site since this area
is checked frequently to be sure no problems develop.
Shorts are a popular item for Physical Therapy sessions.
Avoid gowns or other clothing made of nylon - they tend
to make people perspire and become uncomfortable when
in bed for any length of time.
- Any closed back, flat shoe or slipper with a non-skid
sole is appropriate for the post-op period. Tennis shoes
are ideal and inexpensive.
- Items such as deodorant, combs, toothbrushes, etc. should
be brought with you as desired.
- Any crutches or walkers you will use post-operatively
should be brought on the day of admission so that they
are readily available when you start therapy.
- Handicap tags are readily available to patients both
before and after surgery. Please take advantage of this
benefit if you feel this would be useful. Both permanent
tags and temporary permits are available, and require
a physician's signature on the application. If you wish
to apply for these, complete the required forms and either
send or bring them to our office for the physician's signature.
For more information regarding these tags, you can call
the Motor Vehicle Administration @ 1-800-638-8347 or visit
their website @ http://mva.state.md.us.
- All insurance companies are different. If you have questions
about your specific coverage jot them down before calling
your company to clarify your coverage. Any information
you obtain should be brought with you on admission to
here are examples of frequently used equipment and available
insurance information. Please be aware that insurances
change frequently, and this information is provided as
a guide only. If you need any equipment ordered while
in the hospital, the amount of insurance coverage and
balance you are responsible for will be verified.
handled bath sponge
handled shoe horn
- We realize that each patient is unique and has their own
needs. We have offered the information presented here as
a group of suggestions and ideas that we have collected
from our experience with patients. It is our hope that this
information can be helpful to you and your family in preparing
for your upcoming surgery.