We’ve often found that recovery from spine surgery is the last thing on our patients’ minds, especially any preparations that will have to be made at home. Because of that, we try to bring it to their attention during pre-operative visits by asking questions. We’ll ask about the setup of their home. Is it a one-story or two-story home? Are there many steps to get inside the home? Where is their bedroom located, upstairs or downstairs?
Through these questions, we’re able to provide specific advice to our patients to help make their recovery from spine surgery as seamless as possible. However, since we’re unable to communicate with each individual reading this, we’ve provided several general guidelines to follow below.
Rearrange the items in your home.
During recovery from spine surgery, patients shouldn’t bend, lift, or twist. Patients are given a weight restriction of 10 pounds, meaning you’ll need another person to lift anything heavier.
Due to these restrictions, we urge you to rearrange your home so that frequently used items are at waist height. So, take all of your favorite foods out of the higher cabinets, rearrange your refrigerator accordingly, and move around the clothes in your closet.
Make a grocery run.
Having convenient, healthy food on hand is important to your recovery. Getting the right nutrients will help your body to heal after surgery, so make sure you stock up on whole foods. Some easy to prepare options include fresh vegetables and fruits, chicken breasts, nuts, and a variety of whole grains.
Want to take your meal preparation a step further? Try prepping and freezing several meals before surgery. That way, in those first few days after returning home, the most you’ll have to do is warm up a nice homecooked meal.
Stock up on mental stimulation.
We know this is probably the last thing on your mind while preparing for spine surgery, but recovery often means more time at home. So, we urge our patients to stock up on the mental stimulation of their choice. Whether that means you need to renew your tv streaming service, make a library run, or stock up on magazines and word puzzles, we recommend you do so in the week leading up to your surgery.
Ask someone to stay with you.
You will want someone to stay with you around the clock for at least the first 24-48 hours following your release from the hospital. After the first two days, patients usually do fine with being checked on a few times a day. This means your family member or friend can return to work as long as they check on you before and after work, and during their lunch break.
This is very general advice as some patients require someone to stay with them for a longer period of time. It all depends on how you feel and whether or not you’re able to complete necessary tasks on your own like eating and using the restroom. We urge you to not try to rush this part of the recovery process, as most loved ones would prefer to provide a few more days of care than endanger your health.
Complete any strenuous activities beforehand.
Aim to complete all heavy house and yard work before leaving for the hospital. Or, better yet, ask someone to handle it for you! That’s right, your recovery period is an excuse to not vacuum, sweep, or clean those heavy pots that don’t fit in the dishwasher.
Basically, all we want you to do is rest, relax, and walk. Walking will be your only therapy when you go home. A good goal is to aim for about a mile a day for six weeks following your surgery.
Watch as our Nurse Navigator discusses how to prepare your home for recovery.