Preparing for Recovery

Surgery - July 21, 2016

We often think that the key to a successful surgery is in the hands of the surgeon and the other medical professionals caring for the patient. It's important to also remember that the patient plays a big role in a good outcome, too. I like to think of it as a team effort, the patient works together with the medical staff to have a good result. There are many things a patient can do in the days leading up to a scheduled surgery that can help in a positive outcome. Often there are prescriptions to be filled, supplies to be purchased, and your schedule needs to be cleared. It is also important to prepare your home for the recovery time. This step is very important, especially if the recovery will be for several days. I like to view it as transforming your home into a safe space for comfort and recovery.

The following are some ideas for things that you can do before your surgery to help make your recovery space more comfortable.

Rearrange The Furniture. One of the most important things you can do to create a comfortable recovery space is to look at the layout of your furniture. It is important that your place of rest during recovery has proper access. Make sure it is easy to get in and out of bed, that there is a table or night stand large enough to keep your comforts within easy reach. Depending on the current layout you may need to move your bed onto a different floor or into a different room. You may want to move a desk or other table near it so you can easily access things. You may consider not using your bed to recover and find a guest bed or sofa has more accessibility. Think creatively about how you set things up. It's all about functionality, not aesthetics.

The Path To The Bathroom. When you are in bed recovering, easy access to the bathroom will be vital to your comfort. Make sure there is nothing in the path, remove rugs and anything else that could possibly present a tripping hazard. If your surgery will be impacting your mobility (such as a hip replacement, knee or ankle) a few days before the surgery sit on your bed and then hop on one foot all the way to the bathroom. If you find that really difficult to do you may want to move your bed closer to the bathroom.

Consider Height. The height of your bed may be very comfortable for you in your everyday living but it may pose a problem during your recovery. Particularly if your surgery is on your abdominal area you may find it very difficult to get in and out of bed if your bed is low to the ground. Consider changing the height. You may be able to add an extra box spring or mattress from another bed in your home to boost the height a bit. You can also purchase boosters for your bed frame. Also you may want to consider the height of objects you will need to retrieve during recovery. Particularly if your surgery is in the chest area you may find it difficult to reach for everyday items on shelves during recovery. Consider moving things you use daily that are kept on high shelves in cabinets. You can temporarily have your dishes on the counter or your towels in the bottom shelf of your linen closet or take everything out of your medicine cabinet so you don't have to reach for it.

Lights and Sounds. Getting plenty of rest is critical for a successful recovery. Often after surgery patients sleep in intervals throughout the day and night. If you don't have light blocking curtains you may want to cover up your windows with blankets or other temporary covers to block out the daylight. Also you may want to consider the noise level of your recovery room during the daytime. If there is regular noise that can't be contained in that room you may want to choose a different recovery space in your home. It may also be a good idea to set up a white noise maker or have a radio that can play soft soothing music to make you more comfortable.