Those of you who know me well will remember that I took about two months off this winter to recover from shoulder surgery (and a fractured foot too). Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t plan ahead to make recovery easier, as I fell, rather than having surgery for normal wear-and-tear. As I recovered at home I discovered many things that would make my life easier. I have started sharing these ideas with several co-workers who had those wear-and-tear surgeries after mine. Hopefully sharing those little tips with you will make your life easier too.
- Do a little home prep by setting up a recovery zone – a chair or lounger that reclines, place for phone, remotes, table for drinks, medicine, reading materials, and snacks. Gather a few pillows, you will likely use them to prop your arm for a while.
- Place things at home that you use often at arm level, so they are easy to reach.
- Purchase flip-top or pump tooth paste, body wash, and shampoo. It really will make your life easier.
- Make sure you have a couple pairs of pull-on pants (yoga or sweat pants work, just consider if you need something you can wear in public too).
- Button front shirts work the best the first couple weeks, so either buy a few, borrow, or stop in at a second hand store. My husband wears a button front shirt to work every single day, he had a whole closet, I had one that was women’s pre-accident. Button front isn’t my style, so I wore his and eventually bought a few of those plaid casual boyfriend shirts for home. After I started getting out, I purchased a number of peasant style large neck blouses that I could easily slip on and wear to work, church, or out to eat (these were more my style, but I probably couldn’t have put them on the first week or two).
- You won’t be able to tie your own shoes, so either make sure you have something slip-on or get elastic laces for your shoes.
- Do the pre-admission testing they will require.
- Make sure you check with your physician about any medications you take, over-the-counter and prescription. They may advise you to stop taking them ahead of surgery, or you may need to continue them (just check).
- Review your insurance to make sure you have all pre-approvals, forms completed, etc.
- Use the pre-surgery wash they give you to cut back on the risk of germs. If they don’t supply one, ask or use an anti-biotic wash. It is recommend you use this a couple times before surgery and don’t apply lotion on the day of surgery.
- Make sure you have transportation arranged; you will have a sling for 4 to 6 weeks and be unable to drive. You will need rides to medical appointments and therapy, as well as the grocery or possibly work. I was fortunate to have family, in-laws, and friends who drove me around for about 2 months – with a fractured foot and shoulder – driving wasn’t an option.
When you get home you will need help showering and dressing the first week or so (maybe more). Find a friend or family member that will be able to help you – or consider going for a short stay at a rehab facility. Recruit help with your laundry, groceries, meal prep, and care of pets. To avoid blood clots, don’t sit too long – get up and walk to the bathroom or to get drinks. If they give you a compression sleeve for swelling and circulation – wear it. Do any therapy or rehabilitation that is advised. You may be like me and only be able to do a little bit, because of the break, or you may be able to slip your arm out of the sling for short periods of time (ask them what you should be doing). Once you start therapy, go and do what they tell you to, you won’t regret this decision. Using a stress ball or even pinching a large binder-style clip will help you feel better. I’m finishing up my last couple weeks of therapy, with a goal of being O-H-I-O ready for football season in September!
I hope these tips help each of you to have a successful recovery from your surgery. Feel free to comment with any tips that helped you, or other things that you learned.
Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.
Reviewer: Candace J. Heer, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County.
Patient Guide to Total Shoulder Replacement: http://www.med.nyu.edu/orthosurgery/sites/default/files/orthosurgery/shoulder_0.pdf
The Patient’s Guidebook for Shoulder Surgery, Methodist Sports Medicine: http://www.methodistsports.com/wp-content/uploads/RCR-Guidebook1.pdf