Injury Timeline

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Hitchhiker's Guide To.... Foot Surgery

If you are having foot, leg, or any type of surgery where you will lose the use of one of your legs, I've compiled a helpful set of tips to get you through the process.  These things have helped me survive so far.

Before Surgery:

1) Mobility

I did not have much success with crutches.  I felt uncoordinated and fearful that I would fall and break even more bones.  I highly recommend a knee scooter as your primary mobility device.  You can purchase one on Amazon for about $180, (Super Sexy Knee Scooter) or rent one from a medical supply company.  It does have it's limitations - it works great indoors, but is a little bit of a rough ride outside on anything other than smooth pavement.  You also can't use it on stairs.  But, overall, I've found it the best option as far as getting around.  I can still use my hands and utilize a basket for carrying items back and forth.  If you can, try to rent/buy your scooter (or other chosen mobility device) before your surgery so that you can practice on it.  I rented a scooter initially but after figuring out my recovery times, I bought the one I linked above.  Your doctor should be able to give you the forms for the handicapped pass for your car; get that in advance as well.  However, the cats are not amused by the scooter, AT ALL.

2) Prep Your House

Give your house a good cleaning.  You will want to be comfortable while recovering from surgery.  Adjust furniture to ensure that you have a clear path to your most used destinations (bathroom, bedroom, etc).  Remove any throw rugs as they can be hazardous if you are using something like a knee scooter.  You will also want to create a "nest".  This will be your primary recovery place after your surgery.  Include all of your most commonly used items such as:

Remotes, magazines/books, medications, lotion, water bottles, laptop, phone, blankets, pillows.....

3) Arrange For A Caregiver

You are going to need someone to take care of you and/or visit you regularly so that you don't go completely crazy.  In this case, it's mainly my husband, and my mother, but seek out any friends and family ahead of time and arrange for visitations.  If people lend a hand and want you to let them know if you need anything, take them up on it and be specific.  Can you bring over a meal on Thursday for dinner?  Can you help me do my laundry on Friday?  Can you clean my kitchen on Saturday?  Don't try to go through this on your own.  Also, plan quick and easy meals (cereal, ramen, etc)

4) Purchase Helpful Items

Amazon was my best friend, but I purchased the following things and installed them (well, my husband installed them) prior to surgery to help me along:

5) Entertainment

Line up your entertainment because you will have a LOT of down time while recovering.   Netflix, movies, books, magazines, computer games, music, board games.  Thanks, Mom, for these great gifts.

After Surgery:

1) Medications

If you are going to be like me, I was in a lot of pain after surgery.  The main lesson I learned was to NOT get behind on my pain meds.  Take your medication when your pain begins to escalate, and not when it is already intense.  You will have a much harder time controlling your pain if you get behind schedule.  I set up an alarm on my phone to help me remember my doses and took my  pills on schedule every time.

2) Pooping

Don't laugh.  If you take any sort of narcotic pain med on a regular basis, you WILL have trouble pooping.  After one or two days it's all fun and games, but then it becomes a real problem.  I took a few supplements to help me out:

-Exlax (twice a day)
-Metamucil (3 times a day)

Take that and you're sure to be right as rain in a day or so.

3) Rest (and ICE!)

It is so important for you to rest.  You will realize very quickly that you do not have your normal energy levels that you had pre-surgery.  Your body is devoting all available resources to healing your injury site!  Taking a shower, even getting up to go to the bathroom can be exhausting.  Listen to your body, and rest when you are tired.  It's OK to take naps if you feel like you need them.  Ice packs and elevation are also your new best friend.  Its amazing at what type of pain relief they can provide.

4) EAT

Eat food and make sure that you are getting enough calories each day.  Do not eat at a deficit.  My doctor recommended a balanced diet of fruits/vegetables, and PROTEIN!  Protein is critical to the healing process so eat your meats, eggs and nuts!  I also supplement my protein with protein powder.   I also purchased Jarrow's Ultra Bone Up Formula to help with my bone healing and make sure that I am getting enough calcium and vitamin D each day.  I figure that it can't hurt :)

5)  Combat Depression

This one has been hard.   Set goals for yourself each day and accomplish them.  Go outside, even if its just on one of the steps in your backyard.  Open the window and get some fresh air.  As you feel ready, plan trips to the grocery or small outings with your caregiver just to get outside of the house.  Just don't over do it.

I'm sure there's more I will discover in the coming weeks/months.  

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