Preparing For Your Joint Replacement Surgery

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So you and your doctor have finally decided that joint replacement surgery is your best option. There’s a lot to prepare for physically and mentally before the day comes. The last thing you want to worry about after surgery is how you’re going to get everything done. Doing some simple planning in advance can save you a lot of stress later.

Sort out post-op help

One of the best ways you can ensure something won’t fall through the cracks is to have another set of eyes. More often than not friends and family are willing to step in and help with things after having major surgery. If no one person is available for the whole length of your recovery, figure out a rotating schedule, just be sure everyone’s on the same page. There are also nurses and home health workers that can be hired if there are gaps in your help schedule. Sometimes one can be covered by your insurance, but always check your policy first. Helpers can run errands, remind you to take medications, help you move around or even just keep you company. Having a strong support system is always crucial to recovery.

Plan Out Your Recovery “Nest”

For at least the first few days after your joint replacement, you’re going to be sticking close to a comfortable spot where you can sleep or recline for long stretches of time. For most people, it’s their bed, but for others, their bedroom may not be conveniently located to other places like the bathroom and kitchen. It might even require climbing stairs which patients who undergo knee or hip replacement would find difficult. Taking a moment to choose a prime location in your home that gives you access to things you need with the least amount of effort on your part is always a good idea. This could be a couch in the den or living room or even a cot. When you’ve chosen one start moving things there that you might need; blankets, pillows, remote control, books, kindle – that way they’ll already be waiting for you when you arrive home post-op.

Have something to do while you’re recovering

Depending on your surgery you may find yourself with a lot of time on your hands. Keeping yourself occupied can help stave off your boredom and lead to a healthier state of mind.  Keep some books, crossword puzzles, video games, or movies close to your recovery nest and make sure you take your time to really enjoy them.

Go over any medications you’ll be prescribed after your surgery

This is an important thing for you and any helper you have after surgery to go over with your doctor. Most doctors prescribe some type of painkiller for patients undergoing major surgery.  Not all pain killers are created equal, so making sure you get the right kind and dosage for you will mean less stress later. Asking for a printed guide in advance from either your doctor or the pharmacy will help make sure you are getting your medicine exactly as prescribed to keep you comfortable and safe.

Plan some outfits (or buy some new ones)

Depending on your procedure you may want to take into consideration the kinds of clothes you wear to your surgery and while recovering. Having something soft and loose fitting is a given, but also think about your needs post surgery. How easy will this be to change back into? Particularly shoes. If you’re having hip or knee replacement you may not want fabric rubbing against the operation site so you may opt for a long flowing t-shirt or shorts. If you’re undergoing elbow or shoulder replacement you may consider a tank top for a sling or a sweatshirt with very loose sleeves that can be rolled up to accommodate a cast.

Stock your kitchen

A few days before your surgery take a tour of the grocery store and stock up on some much-loved snacks and food items. Try to keep things healthy and simple if you’re going to be on your own, and leave yourself something non-perishable to start you off next to where you’ll be spending your recovery. If you have help, see if they can go with you or ask if they’d be willing to prepare you something simple. A lot of medication needs to be taken with food and it can be easy to lose track of the last time you ate when you’re taking pain medication. So, don’t skimp on nutritious food that keeps your body healthy and healing.

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