OK, each of us will need the perfect recovery room at home, sometime in our lifetime. Now for women, it should first and foremost come with a shirtless male nurse; second requirement, he needs to look fairly good. Hey, you guys have H—ers, go there to recover. Since the post about the post-op instructions ( Why The Heck Are There Post-op Instructions? ), I wanted to lighten the mood.
Now seriously, what should you have in that room? Where should that room be located? Well, think first about your layout. Is your bedroom on a ground floor? How close is a bathroom? How many steps to get a meal? Simply put, map out your day several weeks before that surgery and start planning. It is best if all rugs are removed. You know they tend to pick the worst time to move. By removing them, you won’t trip on the edge or slip when they become possessed.
Start with meals, very important right? Have you brought in the simplest of meals for around two weeks? Think breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Do you have help getting those on the table, in lunch boxes? If your spouse is the one you are relying on, are they the normal person for this task? Take time to make up menus (on paper) to make their life simpler. When planning those meals you will need the food to be gentle on your stomach; avoid spicy, salty, fried, or over sweet. Have all the groceries bought ahead of time. This is a great time to empty the freezer and pantry. If you have freezer space, do the meals ahead of time. There is nothing wrong with having disposable dishes at this time. Besides, you will be bored out of your wits and want your caregiver to give you attention, not the dishes.
Now, where are you going to be able to eat those meals? The first week, you may not be sitting at a table. Do you have something to sit across your lap? If not, go check out the local salvage or second-hand store, you might find a rolling tray table. See if a friend has one you can borrow. The office supply stores have them if you can’t find a cheapie or freebie. But, be sure to get one with wheels; a foot, cane, even a walker can move them out of your way fairly easy. It is all about “easy”.
Now that the meals are taken care of, let’s talk the bathroom. If you don’t have one in the bedroom it’s time to kick someone out of that room next to it or directly in front of it. We are only talking a week or two. So what if the room had unicorns or dinosaurs on the wall. It can be an adventure for the normal occupant to sleep with their other parent. But, being steps from that oh so important room is a must! Now, about ‘that’ room. Does it have a tub or shower? Is there something to grab on to when you get in, to support you while you shower? What are the instructions about that oh so blessed event? Most instructions say a light shower until incision heals, no steamed up room. If you took one that has the room steamed up, you are endangering yourself. Too hot of water can make you pass out! Too long of a shower can cause infection on that surgery site. Your first two weeks of showers should hit the important spots on the body, only. Think about not taking that shower unless someone is babysitting you. If no one is in the house, stay out of that shower, please.
Let’s think “loo”. Is there something close enough to it that you can use as support to lower your fanny onto it? Most don’t think about this until they are dropping their drawers and then it’s like ‘help‘! If you didn’t get a walker from your insurance or the hospital, then check out those second-hand stores. You can find one for around three dollars. These come in handy even trying to get into the tub, off the bed, and out of a chair. When taking a proper poo, they now suggest your knees be a bit higher than your bum. If you do not have a store-bought stool for this, a block of 4×4 or 6×6 works wonders. Check out the scrap pile in the local lumber store or the big box home repair store. Those of us with Tarlov cysts have found out the nerves affecting the bowels need help and this thing comes in handy.
Now to your room. For a day or two, even a few weeks, you are going to feel like a prisoner. You will be helped to that bed upon arriving home. Make sure it has fresh sheets, extra pillows, and no extra covering than what is necessary. Go ahead and move the spread or comforter off, you will not need it or want to fight with it and your legs. If you had issues with the bladder or bowels before surgery, you will need protective pads to keep under you; buy them as large as you can find. Have the bed made up to how you will need it before you leave for the hospital; that ride home will tire you out and you will not feel like waiting for someone to make it up for you. If someone normally sleeps with you and you do not have a king bed, then consider kicking them out for a few days. You want to rest, not be worried about being kicked in the middle of the night.
Okay we have you on your bed. Think about entertainment, boredom sets in instantly. Pick up a new book, puzzle, games, maybe a tablet or laptop, even a TV. You have all of a sudden become a child needing to entertain itself. So, now you’re in your bed and are having a problem reaching things, what will you do? First you will find that a basket with compartments will come in handy, even those that people use for their cleaning supplies. If you set it on your bed within arm’s reach, you have it made. You could even place it on a towel to slide it around on the bed. Also to reach things on the table next to you, use a ‘grabber tool’. I used and still use tongs for this, but I don’t grab canned food with them. I sure can get a bite sized piece of candy out of the snack drawer.
Also, there will be times you will need help; and what will you do if the nurse is outside mowing the grass or just in another room playing video games? Some form of bell or walkie-talkie will come in handy. Just having that cell phone at fingertips will probably work best, if they agree to attach theirs to their hip. Don’t count on anyone hearing a plea for help or even their name. Yes, you would think this would work, but, alas, those caregivers get in their own little world and zone out just when you really need them.
What will you need somewhere within reach? That cord to charge the cell phone, the phone, a flashlight, paper towels, a wet washcloth in a bowl or something to keep it damp, pencil and paper, and your entertainment. You might find having a power cord draped on the headboard handy. On the wash cloth, I know they make some paper ones that have a cleaner on them. These are great, if you are not sensitive, but don’t get it in your eyes. This is why I recommend the washcloth in a bowl or sealed container. Don’t forget to get your caregiver to change it with a clean one each day. Don’t forget a heating pad and a small towel to place under the heating pad so you don’t burn yourself. A lamp is also a must. You will not want to be hopping up to flip on switches across the room. That ‘clapper’ to plug the lamp in might come in handy also. If you are being left alone, when your caregiver leaves, then having a small cooler for ice and drinks comes in handy, don’t forget some healthy snacks. Make sure that you have your medication within reach. If there are little ones around, secure the bottles in something they can’t open. Also, a small garbage can will be needed for the possibility of nausea, then also so you can get rid of stuff without getting out of bed.
If you were to ask me about how to dress while in the bed for the first week and you were having surgery on a Tarlov cyst, I would tell you if you could get by with your birthday suit, then just go a-la-Na-tur’al. But, since your home may be invaded you might want to just leave off the undies. That incision gets irritated by cloth. Cotton works best, but satin is slippery. Think of having several handy. But, be warned your body heat can be trapped by the satin ones. Also, for the heavily busted women you will need to wear a bra of some form for several hours a day, this will keep you from becoming sore after a day or two. For you men, I would suggest some satin loose boxers or the athletic shorts a size too big, with no undies, just use a sheet to add extra coverage. For the incision from Tarlov Cyst surgery, pants for a while are evil.
Now for wound care, bring home anything that was in your hospital room. You have already paid for it, no matter if you used it or not. Use only what the discharging nurse tells you to use and follow their instructions to the ‘T’. It is not recommended that you use any natural oils, etc., until you have a completely healed incision. Loose clothing and slide on shoes are all you will need. More than likely you can get the gauze to cover your incision from the discharge nurse if none has been left in the room. Pay attention to the tapes you buy, paper tape works best. Remember that if your incision starts feeling hot or turning a flushed color, you will need to call the surgeon’s office. If you are having Tarlov surgery, then your caregiver will need to see that incision to help you keep an eye on things.
I will say that aromatherapy will help. (Personal experience) You want two scents, one to uplift you and one to relax you. Room sprays are harsh, but an oil diffuser or wax melts works great. Since things change after surgery, you might find a familiar scent will now give you a headache, so start that aroma therapy extra gently.
Your recovery room needs to be a sanctuary. If your family wants to visit, ask them to give you a week at home first. Surgery is physically and emotionally tiring. Tell them it would be best to visit while you are in the hospital, or to wait for a week or two after you get home. Pick your caregiver carefully, a parent that causes drama is too stressful. Don’t wait till the last moment to start gathering what you will need. You will be filled with ‘nerves’ as you get closer to your surgery date, fill it with prep work.