Your recovery from surgery will continue after you have been discharged from Hurley Medical Center. During your first few days and weeks at home, you will need to make sure that you and your family are prepared to provide the care and extra attention you will need to allow you to heal.
How to be safe once you go home
To ensure that an accident at home does not complicate your recovery from surgery:
- Clear all walking areas of rugs, loose carpeting, cords and wires, and magazines or newspaper, to avoid tripping.
- Store needed kitchen, bathroom and other items and supplies within easy reach.
- If you or your caregiver can do so, you may wish to make and freeze meals ahead of time, so they can be reheated easily later.
- Arrange for home delivery of items (such as groceries) that you would normally get yourself.
- Watch out for pets that might jump on you or get underfoot.
- Wear comfortable shoes that are easy to walk in and that have good traction.
- Mark raised door thresholds.
- Be extra careful using stairs and hold onto handrails.
- Clean up spills immediately.
- On tub and shower floors, and at the sides of tubs and showers, use a non-slip bath mat. Exit bathing areas cautiously; you may wish to install grab bars and other support devices in the bathroom.
Be sure to show up for all follow-up visits scheduled with your surgeon. If a follow-up visit isn’t scheduled before you leave the hospital, call your doctor’s office and make an appointment as soon as you get home.
Your surgeon will provide you with a physical therapy plan, if needed. This may include physical therapy at home or at a designated facility. This will be determined by your ability to get in and out of the car and your physical condition. While at home, your physical therapist may give you exercises to do in your living room or in bed. As soon as you are able, you will go to outpatient therapy.
You will receive prescriptions for pain medication and other medication you may need. Have someone fill the prescriptions as soon as you are discharged. If your pain medication is not effective enough, or you experience unpleasant side effects, do not hesitate to call your orthopedic surgeon.
Because of your decreased activity following surgery, and as a side effect of certain pain medications, you may experience constipation. The following can help control this problem; check with your doctor first, to get his or her approval, before trying any of these steps:
- Take a daily laxative and stool softener, as needed
- Increase your water intake
- Eat a diet high in fiber—including fruits, vegetables and foods rich in whole grains
- Eat prunes or drink prune juice
If your constipation does not go away, be sure to speak to your physician.
More than ever, when you are healing from surgery you need proper nutrition. It is important that you eat a well-balanced diet. You may also consider taking a daily multivitamin and/or other supplements, if approved by your doctor.
Check your incision every day for signs of infection. Call your surgeon's office if any of the following symptoms appear:
- Increased redness
- Increased swelling (note that some swelling after exercise or therapy is normal)
- Increased pain
- Oral temperature greater than 101˚F
If you have been discharged with a dressing still on your incision, your nursing staff will give you instructions on how to change it regularly and when you can begin leaving it uncovered (this may be just at night, at first). Sterile gauze and tape can be purchased at your local pharmacy.
If sutures or staples are still in place, you should not shower or take a bath unless otherwise advised by your surgeon. Keep your surgical incision dry at all times and wear loose clothing to avoid rubbing or disturbing the surgical area. If your surgeon approves, you may tape a gauze pad over the incision site when wearing clothes that may rub or be tight.
Once your sutures or staples have been removed, your physician will tell you if it is OK to shower or take a tub bath. After bathing, be sure to dry the surgical site gently and completely. If your incisions use steri-strips instead of sutures or stitches, do not peel the strips off. They will fall off by themselves within 3-6 days.