You’ve booked the operation – or you’re ready to. You’ve pencilled the dates in your diary. You’ve even thought about setting the Sky+ for Neighbours while you’re away. So what next?
Actually, there are quite a few things to think about when planning for a major surgical procedure. Some of these will be covered in your Pre-Assessments, where you can ask questions, meet the physio team and get coaching on your procedure at a so-called ‘joint school’.
Others things may not be so obvious. So meet the Pre-Surgery Checklist – a quick guide to some of the things you may like to consider before your operation. With surgery, it always pays to be prepared.
Sort your backup
The first days after surgery can be tough. Following a major operation like a knee replacement, you’ll need home help for the first fortnight: think dressing, cooking, cleaning, putting the bins out. If you don’t have a partner or family member to do that, think about hiring a care assistant, or even booking into a rehabilitation centre. Your GP will be able to help with local contacts. The NHS has some useful resources, too.
Getting around the kitchen – let alone the shops – will be difficult after surgery. So consider planning meals in advance, or popping some in the freezer beforehand. Make sure you’re prepping a well-balanced diet: your body will need plenty of fluids, protein and calories as it recovers.
We generally don’t advise people to bring their bedroom downstairs after surgery. Just check that your bed is easy to access. Very low beds can be hard to get out of after knee surgery. If that’s the case, you might consider adding a temporary extra mattress to raise the height.
Focus on downstairs
While the physiotherapy team will help you practise getting up and down stairs with crutches after surgery, you won’t want to be going up and down like a yoyo. Plan to have your essentials downstairs for the daytime. Consider hiring a commode if your only bathroom is upstairs.
Clear the floors
Slips, trips and falls are by far the most common cause of injuries at work. And what’s true at work is even more true at home. So do a domestic health check: pay special attention to loose carpets and rugs. Move or remove any objects that impede your paths through the house (like that handy new robot vacuum cleaner).
Get a grip
Shoe grips, that is. We often ask patients to think about their footwear before they have surgery. It sounds like obvious advice, but a pair of slippers with grip on the undersoles can drastically reduce the risk of an accident when you’re less steady on your feet.
Keep a phone handy
In the early days of recovery, you’ll be less mobile. But you may not always have someone around to help if you get stuck. Keeping a mobile phone close to hand – and a portable battery charger for when it runs out – gives you backup in case of an emergency.
Consider a dosette box
Generally, the only tablets you’ll leave hospital with are short-course anticoagulants and pain relief (such as Cocodamol). But if you already take pills and supplements for other conditions, they soon stack up. A dosette box (or pill organiser) with clear labels and slots will keep you on top of them.
Up to a third of us are now said to own a smart speaker with voice assistant. While we wouldn’t want to offer ourselves as a personal shopper for Google and Amazon, it’s easy to see how hands-free devices might be helpful to a recovering patient. Just bear in mind that regular movement is important for recovery, to encourage blood flow and build muscle strength. So switching lights off the traditional way is no bad thing.
If you own a pet – particularly a dog – make sure you have someone to look after them while you’re in hospital, and when you’re back home but unable to get out and about. You might want to consider kennels for a few weeks, or a local dog walking service.
It’s easy to get bored when you’re inactive – particularly if you find yourself up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep. Try turning the time to your advantage by devoting it to something you’ve always been meaning to tackle – a learning project, some good books, a DVD box set, or even that 500-piece jigsaw puzzle.
We hope you found this list helpful. If you have any thoughts or tips of your own, why not drop us a line on Facebook? We would love to hear from you.