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How do I best prepare for after the surgery? How do I best prepare for after the surgery?

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Unread 07-14-2002, 08:11 AM
How do I best prepare for after the surgery?

I'm a little worried about coping with the day-to-day stuff after the surgery. I am a single mother with no family around. Co-workers offered to help out, but I have to admit that I'm not very good at asking for help. I'm always the one doing stuff for other people.
I live in a two-story townhouse - how will I get up and down the stairs for the first few days?
Will I be able to drive within a few days of coming home?
Is there something essential I need to put on my shopping list that I'm not thinking about right now?
I'd appreciate any suggestions!
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Unread 07-14-2002, 08:59 AM
Getting by with minimal help

My hysterectomy was vaginal, and I was able to manage stairs with no problem the moment I got home from the hospital on the third day. I was able to drive short distances as soon as I stopped taking the pain pills (4th day), but we live in a mostly rural area/very small town where dealing with traffic is not an issue. My doctor was aware of my circumstances, and grudgingly OKed this, providing I was not still taking pain killers. RE: driving, it was not painful to me to drive, although for someone with an abdominal incision, perhaps the seat belt use would be (and you MUST wear your belt). I think the big issue with driving (once pain ceases to be a problem) is reaction time if you are still on painkillers that can slow it down. I wouldn't have tried driving in city traffic as soon as I did in my small town. Once the drugs were out of my system, I felt safe to drive to the grocery store or my doctor's office, but I would certainly not recommend long road trips or driving car pool! I had no adult help in the home, just my kids, who are 10, 12, and 15. I asked them to do all the lifting (even laundry baskets and unloading the dishwasher) which they cheerfully are still doing (I'm 10 days post op now). I have not faced anything yet that I needed to call on anyone else for (and wouldn't know who to call if I did; I have not lived in this town long, and don't really know anyone). Fortunately, I have felt pretty much normal since the 5th day or so. But, hey, if you have co-workers who have offered help, by all means, don't hesitate to ask them. You know that if the situation were reversed, you would help them in a heartbeat. I'm sure they know it, too! Time to reap what you have sowed!
Unread 07-14-2002, 09:19 AM
How do I best prepare for after the surgery?

How old are your kids? How much you need to prepare will depend on how old they are and how much they will be able to help.

For after surgery you will want to have on hand plenty of no-preparation foods like fruit, soup, cereal, snack bars, etc. Some sisters spend a few days cooking and freezing meals for post op.

Driving: talk to your DR, every DR seems to have different post op rules and instructions. Mine were:
Ambulation: no restrictions
Lifting: limited to arm lift only, no use of abdominal muscles
Driving: 2 weeks
Work: 6 weeks
Sex: 6 weeks
No bath: 6 weeks
Shower: yes, not necessary to cover incision.

There are also suggestions on the home page - here is a link

Pre-Op Hysterectomy Articles

Best wishes!
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Unread 07-14-2002, 10:41 AM
How do I best prepare for after the surgery?

Be prepared not to do a lot for the first 2 weeks. Do you have a friend that can help with things like washing clothes? You should not lift anything for the first 2 weeks, and wet clothes can be heavy!

I live in a 2 story townhouse, and basically camped out on the recliner downstairs (near the kitchen, TV, Stereo and bathroom). I also have (still!) a sheet over the recliner because it's cooler (and smoother) than the cloth.

Also try to have food items at a level you can reach easily --- no stretching or bending!

Try to buy easy to prepare items now to last for the first couple weeks. Is there a grocery delivery service near you (here we have Safeway and Albertson's)? That way you won't have to worry so much about perishables.

Unread 07-14-2002, 02:26 PM
How do I best prepare for after the surgery?

You basically will be lying or sitting a lot the first couple of weeks. No lifting or bending for 6 weeks. How old are you kids, they could be a big help! Have them put things at counter level for you. Cook ahead of time and freeze or eat a lot of soup and sandwiches! No washing and drying clothes, or cleaning, 6 wks. I could drive at 1 week, but not while taking pain meds. I took them a couple of weeks, no since hurting. You will sleep a lot the 1st week, quite a bit the second, then it will ween off. You need some help throughout the 6 weeks, especially the first. If people offer, except. I don't think they would offer if they didn't mean it! Oh, and the stairs. I would move things you need downstairs for a couple of weeks. When you do start walking a little at a time, you will want flat land!
Unread 07-14-2002, 03:26 PM
How do I best prepare for after the surgery?

You sound like me a weekago today. I had a full hysterectomy (abdominal) on July 8th - just last monday. I am also a single parent. I have family in town but truely questioned how much I could depend on them to really help me out. I'm a do it all myself person and spent the last few days prior to surgery trying to figure out answers to every possible problem I might encounter once I get home. Make sure you have plenty of staples on hand milk/bread, etc. I moved two week's worth of frozen food items from the downstairs deepfreeze to the first floor fridge.

I guess the best thing I can tell you that I am still amazed about is that things work out. My 12 year old who generally doesn't do much around the house is I think appreciating the relaxed "Self-Serve" atmosphere our life has taken on. I always tried to have such a schedule for us and make sure everything gets done. Well - things aren't getting done this first week. My house is pretty much a mess, so's the kitchen, but we've eaten well (buy side salads (potato, coleslaw, macaroni). Bake a chicken and have it in the fridge, some crossoiants, etc. I guess the biggest thing I though was that I had to have everything set up so our lives didn't have to change that much. Well, they have and I'm more relaxed and so is my DS's. Today I allowed him to ride his bike to Burger King and pick us up breakfast. This was a real treat for him to do something special for us. For me, help seems to have come out of the woodwork. People offer and I have been taking them up on it.

I bought a bunch of thankyou notes before surgery and I have been busy getting those done because people really do step up to the plate to help you. Make sure you say Yes when they ask what they can do (keep a list of their names and phone numbers) you may not know upfront - but after your home you will have plenty of ideas in mind. One thing I've learned since I've been home: I would have to wake up ever 4 hours to take pain meds - which meant getting out of bed finding something to eat before I took the pill (because they can and will upset an empty stomach), finding the pillls) then going back off to bed. Now, I have my pills, crackers, water, and a large dial clock next to my bed. This has helped me so much - now I can get up when my pain medication is if full force - rather than when I don't have any in my system. Also, a kitchen chair next to the bed has enabled me to get in and out on my own. These area just some suggestions/experienes I have had hope some will work for of luck.
Unread 07-14-2002, 07:12 PM
what to buy

Get some cans of soup that you can eat when you are nauseated. Also some jello, crackers, graham crakers.
If you are sick, this may be all you eat for a few days.
Unread 07-15-2002, 06:47 PM
How do I best prepare for after the surgery?


I also live in a townhouse with lots of stairs (4 levels) and I had LAVH 4 weeks ago. I had the same concern as you do. For the first 2 weeks I was able to do limited stairs, meaning 1-2 trips a day, so it was important in the morning to do all things I needed to do upstairs with the shower and bedroom, then get downstairs and stay there for the duration of the day, between the kitchen and living room (and luckily I have a 1/2 bath on that floor).

You should have someone there with you for the first couple nights home, incase of problems, you don't want to be alone. Also, it is very hard to get up from bed without assistance! The hospital made sure that I had someone staying with me at home before they discharged me, so I had to have my mom and stepdad stay over the first 3 nights. It is helpful to have someone there during the day (or at least parts of the day) to get your meals, help you with getting up from chairs, etc. The things we take for granted when we are healthy! I found that just the trip from couch to kitchen was exhausting. Then when you get there, you need to sit down.

I was not released to drive until 3 1/2 weeks post-op. So I would not make any plans to drive right away, especially if you are on pain meds. They also want to be sure you are not "guarding" anymore (meaning that you are protecting your abdomen), so that you would be able to stop abruptly or slam on the brakes or turn your body to look behind you, etc if you had to, without feeling pain in your abs.
I stocked the freezer before my hyst with lots of Lean Cuisines. I also have a George Forman grill which I am using lots to make grilled cheese, veggie burgers, frozen french fries (yes you can cook these on the GF grill)...things that are really easy and don't involve bending over to the stove. Have lots of drinks onhand, I started with Fruit20 which I got soooo sick of. Then I was craving all kinds of weird things - koolaid, gatorade, cranberry juice, slurpees. Stay away from soda until your bowels return to normal, as the bubbles in the soda don't help with the gas issue. They tell you to push fluids, as that will help your bowel and bladder. Just helps to have a variety of things!

Don't take antibiotics or pain meds on an empty belly.
I had bought a bag of pretzel rods, which turned out to be the best thing. During the wee hours of the night when I was due for my pain meds I would eat a pretzel rod, which is just enough food to give your stomach a cushion to prevent feeling sick from the pills. Of course now I don't want to LOOK at another pretzel rod, they are giving me post-traumatic stress disorder.

Get lots of rest, and if your colleagues have offered to help, tell them YES! There will be laundry to do and vacumming and all sorts of things that the Dr's will not let you do for like 6 weeks. I can't believe how many of my family members have folded my underwear in the past month! Oh well, it brings us all closer together.
You might be able to have a visiting nurse/home health aide come in - check with your Dr and your insurance. Sometimes the Dr will order this if they know you are living alone. That would give you a helper to get you through the first couple weeks. You might try this first, and if that fails, call those coworkers. I too hate to ask for help but I realized during my recovery that I had to accept the help from others. Someday I will return the favor.

Also noticed "Hilarity" wrote about the thank you notes (great idea!). I bought a box of those too, before my surgery, and spent a few minutes each day writing a few of them out. It gives you something to do between naps besides watching Jerry Springer and Family Fued.

Unread 07-16-2002, 08:51 PM
forgot to add

Try strengthing your arms before your surgery. Such as sitting in a sturdy lawn chair and lifting your weight with your arms only. After the surgery, you will be in bad pain if you use your stomach muscles to lift yourself and it took me about 3-4 days to get enough muscles to do this.

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