Spinal Surgery Recovery (for the uninitiated)
Spinal Surgery Recovery
Post-op advice for illuminating the pathway to recovery after spinal surgery and spine fusion which is based purely on my own opinion...gleaned from personal experience.
Spinal surgery leaves you sore!
Spinal fusion leaves you feeling like you've been kicked by a horse...in my case probably a pure-bred Belgian Stallion spooked by a swarm of hornets.
Well...that's what it felt like to me.
Yes....I'm speaking as a layman here...coming at you with a few friendly tips to (hopefully) speed up your recovery process...or at least to help you to be a little more prepared than I was.
Whilst trundling along on my own road to recovery I encountered quite a few problems which I had to deal with as I progressed...and I have compiled this 'kitbag for recuperation' in case anyone wants to be better set up for the journey.
If you are in the midst of recovery from surgery, fusion, reconstructed vertebrae or any kind of spine and neck damage...my heart goes out to you and I wish you all the best.
In no particular order....here is my list of items and intangible requirements which I think you'll benefit from.
Get Well Soon
- Claw-Gripper- You know the type of thing....like a litter-picker...and a must-have in my opinion. This is a time when you shouldn't be stretching or bending down unduly and the claw-gripper is ideal for picking up magazines, slippers, clothes, mail etc...and other things that you have dropped...because you will drop things. You'll probably even drop your claw-grippers...I did. You can purchase these at mobility aid shops and you can find them online. I bought mine from a garden centre...just to be different.
- Toilet-Riser- A plastic 6" riser for your toilet seat...because it's a long way back up if you haven't got one and it gives an extra 6" of flexibilty to the spine in the process. It kind of helps 'you-bend' over the 'u-bend' (sorry) Again...these are available online...I got mine at the hospital as I was discharged. Some of them double as a shower-seat...depending on your shower-type.
- A Walker- A small walking-frame to help you get about and to give you the chance to rest during that arduous Hannibal-esque trek from the lounge to the kitchen. Personally I didn't have one...but I did buy a walking-stick.
- Painkillers...and Pain-Management Advice- I came unstuck myself over this one because I didn't realise the importance of controlling the pain and getting the timing right. Follow the instructions. Order repeat prescriptions in time and discuss any issues with your GP instead of thinking you can 'wait and see what happens when this lot run out' Consult with your GP if you feel the meds or the dosage is inadequate or unsuitable. I had to have mine changed a few times. The differences in resultant pain (and it's reduction) were often startling.
- Laxatives- Need I elaborate? In hospital they give you your tablets...you take them and tend to ask few questions...then you lose sight of the importance of some of them when you come out. I didn't realise the importance of the Lactulose and the SennaCots until it was too late. I think I read War & Peace on the lavatory one terrible evening. Talk about a Dostoyevskian Nightmare. (yes...yes...I know that Leo Tolstoy wrote War & Peace...but come on...for the sake of the joke)
So...take the correct tablets...if you don't want some kind of Siberian horror-hallucination
- Sleep- Easier said than done...I know...but sometimes you will feel that sleep is the only release from the pain. I didn't seek out sleeping-tablets because I wanted to take as few pills as possible...but I have been told that some people have taken advantage of them. It's obviously something to discuss with the GP again.
- Family & Friends- I didn't have that many visitors because I was in a fair amount of pain and I preferred to be on my own...so I didn't have a turn-stile fitted on the front door. I had lots of offers though...for which I was very grateful...and a few did come round when I let it be known that I was feeling chirpier. (thanks Nicci H, Paul W, Nick H, Graeme G, Piggy etc) As for family...I saw my sisters , my niece and my parents...and that was very special. I'd be here all day if I explained what they done for me...sorting out all the legal car-crash stuff...bringing supplies round...running errands and all sorts. So...what I'm saying is...be grateful for the help...and don't be afraid to ask for help...because they don't want to see you in difficulty. I lost count of the times my mum and dad ferried me to and from doctors and specialists and pharmacies. Cheers everyone. xx
- Loose Clothing- Lots of it...and easily getable. You don't want to be walking around in pencil-skirts and Kim Kardashian-esque constricting under-garments when you've got got lumps of metal in your spine and 66 stitches in your flesh. Baggy t-shirts....pyjamas...the way forward.
- Facebook- um.....yeah...your link to the outside world...and a wonderful opportunity to catch up on all the fantastic events and parties that you can't attend :(
- Cats- Little b*ggers they might be...sleeping all day and not lifting a paw to help out...getting their own way with a little purr-sausion (sorry) but they are therapeutic little stroking-pads...and they do make you laugh sometimes to lift you from the abyss of gloom and repetition.
- Time and Patience- It's not nice to be sitting at home when you want to be working...you feel guilty...you might even be losing money...you might even risk losing your job. When you are at home, though, you tend to google these issues to see how long the average recovery timescale is. The truth is...there is no average recovery timescale. You'll see that some people are up and about in three weeks...off the painkillers too. Then you'll find that some people take months...and even years. Some people never work again. The recurring advice you'll see is that you have to give yourself all the time you need...and you have to be guided by your GP...and you have to be clear with them about the levels of pain you are experiencing. Keep in regular contact with your employees...especially if they are still paying you. They deserve that respect.
- Books, DVD's, Kindle etc - Self-explanatory....something to keep your mind occupied...especially when you are in pain or discomfort. It does take your mind off it
- Schedule...keep a journal- I found this very important because it keeps you occupied and it helps to keep a track of all your medical needs and appointments. You can list all your medications...and keep a track of administration times. You might be grateful for a precise record in the long run...especially if there are insurance implications or legal entanglements. Keep a list of every expense and keep a receipt for the prescriptions. You never know what might crop up...and what you might be able to claim back. Keep a food diary too.
- Mobile Phone...cell-phone...smart-phone- Whatever you are calling it....always beneficial to have your phone within reach...especially if you are having erratic trauma.
- Goals- Don't lose sight of the things you want to achieve and set yourself little targets along the way to encourage you to keep moving forward and to give you that boost and that extremely important element of pride when you do achieve something...when you do see signs that you have reached a target. It doesn't matter how small the goal or gesture may be. I've had the newspaper delivered to my door for 25 years (at my current house) but the first thing I did when I got out of hospital was to phone the newsagents and cancel it. Why? Because I knew that I would have to walk to the shop each morning to collect it...which meant I would have to get up and have my ablutions like an early bird...and I would never fail to get my moderate but crucial amount of exercise each day.
- BIG CUSHIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!- 'Nuff said :)
I HOPE YOU HAVEN'T BROKEN YOUR SPINE....I HOPE YOU HAVEN'T BROKEN ANY BONES AT ALL....BUT IF YOU HAVE....I HOPE YOU MIGHT FIND SOMETHING OUT FROM THIS :)
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NOTE FROM ANDY (AUTHOR)
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