What does Santa Claus do before he sets out on his big adventure every year? He checks his list twice! You may not be Santa, but you should check your list twice before getting a total knee replacement. It’s the only way to make sure your home and helpers are prepared for your recovery. Unlike Santa’s list, here are the things you should be checking.
- Is your home ready?
- Do you have the necessary help lined up?Are you eating the things before surgery?
Leaving these things up to chance will lead you down the road to a rocky recovery. I’m here to help make sure that doesn’t happen.
Getting Your Home Ready for Recovery
Ahhhh, home-sweet-home… but it won’t feel like that if you haven’t properly prepared your living quarters for post-op limitations. Make sure your home is safe for any walking devices you’ll need before surgery.
When you get home from the hospital you’ll be ready to lay down and rest. If you haven’t prepared your home, you might realize that you can’t get to your bed. Is it upstairs or are there large pieces of furniture in the way? If so, you’ll need to find s solution before your surgery.
Before surgery, consider the following things about your home:
- Clutter: Are there large pieces of furniture or other items that will get in your way when you are using a walker or wheelchair?
- Trip Hazards: Move any throw rugs, cords, and other trip hazards out of the walkways.
- Pain Management: Have plenty of ice packs and pillows (for positioning) to help ease post-op pain.
- Access to bathroom and sleeping quarters: Is your bedroom on the main floor with easy access to the bathroom? If you’re not on the main floor or don’t have easy access to a bathroom, you’ll need to find a solution. Perhaps you can use a guest room or convert your living room into sleeping quarters until you can navigate your home without the fear of falling.
Preparing Your Home for Knee Replacement Recovery
Meal Prep - Don’t Come Home Hungry
Everyone has a different role in their household. If you’re usually in charge of meals, make alternate plans or prep your kitchen to make it easy to navigate.
Consider stocking your freezer with large portions of your family’s favorites. Store them in easy to heat portions. Or enlist the aid of family and friends. Try to get a schedule of people to come at certain times and prepare food as needed.
Some people may benefit from a boxed meal delivery service during recovery time to reduce the hassle of cooking and cleaning up afterward.
Do You Have the Necessary Items For After Surgery Recovery
Try and get anything you might need to help speed up recovery before hand and have it ready to go. Some items the hospital will give you but be sure to ask first. It’s always best to be sure than sorry. These items include:
- Compression stockings
- Automatic Ice Machine
- Leg Pillow for elevation and sleeping
- Pain Relief Cream
- Exercise equipment such as a Swiss ball and stretching strap
For a more complete list of items you might need to help with pain control after surgery so our list here.
Lean on Friends and Family
Everyone needs help sometimes. Yes, even you! Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. I know it’s hard to ask for help, but don’t risk injuring yourself by doing too much.
If you feel like a burden, remind yourself how much your family and friends care. Chances are the people who care for and love you don’t feel that way.
If you live alone, consider asking family and friends to stop by at scheduled times to check on you.
Some things that they can help you with to make it easier on your recovery include:
- Changing the bed sheets
- Taking the dog for a walk
- Doing a quick grocery run
- Drive you to your doctors appointments
In some situations, it may be necessary to have a home health nurse stay with you or come by multiple times a day to assist you. If this applies to you, make sure to have your caretaker lined up ahead of time.
Plan Ahead for Physical Therapy Appointments
Before surgery, you should already have your first physical therapy appointment scheduled. It is important to have transportation arranged for these appointments if you’re unable to drive. If you have not done this yet, do so as soon as possible to ensure you start your rehabilitation without any delays.
You will start physical therapy 2-3 days after surgery and the first two weeks are extremely important for long term success. Plan on going to therapy for 6 weeks total with a frequency of 2-3x a week for the first 2 weeks.
At physical therapy you will be working on:
- Improving knee flexion and extension range of motion
- Walking mechanics and normal gait patterns
- Improving strength and muscle control
- Reduce swelling
- Pain mitigation
Fuel Up Before Fasting
Proper nutrition is key for good overall health. This is especially true before and after having surgery. In most cases, it is required that you fast for 8-12 hours before surgery.
Eating foods high in the proper nutrients is important before surgery because your body is about to go under a lot of stress. Having the proper ‘fuel’ in your body will help you recover better and faster.
The following list is compiled of foods that you should eat in the weeks before your surgery:
- Lean red meat
- Bell peppers
- Leafy greens
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
- Whole-grain bread
Your post-op diet should start with clear liquids and light foods then gradually return to normal eating habits as your body can tolerate it. Studies show that restricting food until bowels begin functioning can slow the healing process by robbing your body of nutrients.
Medications that May Affect You During Surgery
Before your total knee replacement, discuss any medications you are taking with your doctor. Some medications may not be safe to take before surgery due to complications with anesthesia and clotting.
If you are currently being prescribed blood-thinners it is especially important to have a discussion with your doctor or surgeon BEFORE surgery.
Taking blood thinners keeps blood from clotting which can be a huge issue when you are being operated on. Don’t let a routine surgery turn into a life or death situation by not stopping certain medications before surgery.
Stock Up on Supplies
Don’t risk running out of the everyday items you need. Stock up on household items like:
- toilet paper
- dish soap
- laundry detergent
- dog and pet food
The last thing you’ll want to do while recovering is make a supply run.
Check Off That List Then Get Some Rest
Following these recommendations on getting prepared before surgery will allow things to go much more smoothly than if you wait until after and have to rush around. Prepare your mind and body by getting a good night’s rest before your surgery and follow your surgeon and therapist’s post-op directions for a speedy recovery.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is for educational purposes only. This is not a substitute for a medical appointment. Please refer to your physician before starting any exercise program.