This post covers some of the things I did for spine surgery prep, both preparing the house AND activities I wanted to do before I was laid up. Luckily, I had 3 weeks notice before my spine surgery date so I had some time to get this stuff done!
Do some things you won’t be able to do for a while after surgery.
I went out for dinner with just me and my kiddo, and also made sure to get some of my favorite coffee beverages! I was told that I would likely not drive for 3-4 weeks after surgery due to the invasive nature of what I had done, so I wanted to take advantage of my freedom even though it hurt!
Teach the kids to do some things around the house.
I taught my 8 year old how to microwave simple things like the “mac and cheese” bowls. He was actually THRILLED to feel so self sufficient and finally have permission to use the microwave! He also knows how to start a load of laundry and transfer things from the washer to the dryer. I stocked up on disposable plates and silverware. After surgery, you probably won’t be allowed to bend so loading and unloading the dishwasher is a no-go.
I made a gigantic pile of non-perishable food, plus frozen meals, frozen smoothie ingredients, pantry staples, etc. I also let the kiddo know which snacks he was allowed to have without asking permission (you’ll want to save any energy you can). My boyfriend is appalled by the size of the pile, but I find it comforting to have it while I’m “trapped” here, unable to drive, no grocery stores within walking distance yet, and unable to carry more than 10 lbs at a time. I’m almost to the two weeks post-surgery point so I’m here alone a lot as he’s back to work. The pile is so reassuring. 😉
Plan for some mindless things to do.
If your surgery is extensive, you’ll be on some serious pain killers and muscle relaxers. They tend to turn my brain to mush (I’m writing this during the painful period when they’re mostly worn off and it’s not time yet for another dose). TV, Netflix, simple phone or iPad games, word searches, coloring books … don’t underestimate just how brain dead you may feel. 😉
Figure out how you’re going to A) remember to take your meds and B) not overdose
“Meds brain” makes it easy to forget everything, including if you’ve taken your pills and what ones you’re supposed to take at what times. This is a snapshot of all the pills I’m taking during the 2nd week after surgery. It’s intense. Some are maintenance medications, but most are due to surgery and recovery. Tons of tylenol? Check. Painkillers? Check. Muscle relaxers? Check. Calcium supplements to encourage my body to grow new bone? Check. I decided that a 6 hour rotation would work for my prescriptions, and bought extra pill sorters to hold all of the meds. I loaded up the sorters and now all I have to do is pay attention to my phone alarms and then wander over to the pill sorters and take the appropriate batch.
You won’t be able to drive for a while, so you’ll need people to grocery shop for you especially if you’re not very mobile after surgery. I’ve been lucky and have been able to go along each trip, even if it means using a walker. If you’re a picky eater like me, take pictures of your favorite foods to save your friends and family from guessing!
Figure out a way to track your mobility progress after surgery
I bought what I previously called my “anti-fitness device” to track my steps each day. I could watch as the VERY low levels of movement in the days after surgery gradually increased every day on my Garmin. It’s motivating to have something to track!
Stock up on embarrassing medical equipment.
You can usually buy this from the hospital but at a VERY high price, so stock up on the obvious things before you go into surgery. For about the first week after surgery, I needed a toilet seat riser and a walker. I stocked up on multiple grabbers to stash around the house. A nice grabber similar to this, and a few cheap ones to leave on different levels of the house. I set up a firm chair with arms, placed a few tables near it to have things close at hand, and moved my most-needed items (coffee!) to the counter. Plan on not being able to reach anything below your waist or much above your head. If you’re not talented with the grabber, you may need someone to dress you for a while after surgery. Some folks even need help wiping after using the toilet <shudder>.
Rearrange the house, if needed, and ask friends and family for help.
Stairs are the devil right away, any rug or cord on the floor can send you sprawling, and good luck taking care of your pets. I sent my poor sweet hound to the kennel for a week or so. This included my time in the hospital and the first few days after surgery. Luckily I had family on hand to help with him right away, prep meals for me, run any errands, and deliver things to my recliner or bed. This helped A TON. Even if you can only arrange for someone to come visit you for an hour or two a day, DO IT. Ask for help before you need it. It gives me great peace of mind to know someone’s on deck to come check on me.
I’m sure there’s a ton of things I’m missing! If, like me, you’ve been diagnosed with spondylolisthesis, there is a fantastic Facebook support group with over 3000 members and climbing. That page has even more detailed write-ups covering house prep, suggestions for pain relief, etc. If you have a specific question for me please leave it in the comments below!