It’s understandable if you’re a bit anxious about having joint surgery. But preparing ahead of time can help calm some of those pre-surgery jitters and ensure a speedy recovery in the long run.
Preparations for joint surgery usually start several weeks before when you talk with your doctor about what to expect before, during and after your operation. Learn about the hospital admission process, the kind of anesthesia and type of implant you will receive, and how long you will stay in the hospital. You also should discuss the potential risks of surgery as well as rehabilitation and pain management following the procedure.
It is important to compile a complete list with names, addresses and phone numbers of doctors you currently see and the reasons why you see them. Also make a list of all medical conditions you have, previous operations, and the dosage and frequency of medicines you currently take on a regular basis. Don’t forget to include vitamin and mineral supplements as well as over-the-counter medications. Additional lists that you should bring to the hospital include any allergies or adverse reactions to drugs or anesthesia in the past, dietary restrictions, insurance coverage, and information about legal arrangements, such as a living will or durable power of attorney.
You can improve your health following surgery by taking steps to get in shape before surgery. If you smoke, cut down or quit. If you drink, do not have any alcohol at least two days before surgery. If you are overweight, talk with your doctor about losing weight. You also can practice postoperative exercises, if any, so they will be easier to do after surgery.
In addition to preparing yourself for surgery, you can make arrangements at home for a smooth recuperation. You can start by arranging for someone to take you home from the hospital and staying with you for several days after surgery. Since you may not be able to drive, you will need to line up people to take you to follow-up appointments. Other ways you can plan ahead for your homecoming include:
- Preparing meals ahead of time and freezing them so you won’t have to cook.
- Moving commonly used items to within easy reach.
- Borrowing a walker or crutches if you have a hip or knee replacement.
- Removing throw rugs and securing electrical cords to minimize the risk of tripping.
- Modifying the bathroom if possible with a shower chair, gripping bar or raised toilet.
- Buying things that might make life a little easier after surgery, such as a shoehorn, sponge with a long handle, grabbing tool or footstool.
- Applying to the Department of Motor Vehicles for a temporary parking permit for a disabled person.
Don’t forget to pack your bag to take to the hospital. Be sure to include a pair of comfortable, non-skid bedroom slippers, something to read, personal care items, loose-fitting clothes to wear home, and all the lists you made previously.
For more information about preparing for joint surgery, talk with your doctor or call (305) 441-6877 for a free referral to an orthopedic surgeon near you.