Having spine surgery can feel stressful. We can understand why. Any surgical procedure has some unknowns. Patients want to know how to prepare for surgery, what their procedure may be like, and how to make the most of their recovery. Here, we cover the last topic with a list of important items you may want during your brief hospital stay, and once you return home to finish out your recovery.
If your spinal surgery will require you to spend one or more nights in the hospital, consider including the following in your bag:
- Anti-slip socks or slip-on shoes. Wearing slip-on shoes, especially, is advantageous (both in the hospital and at home) because you do not have to bend over to tie shoelaces.
- Hand lotion and lip balm. Patients are often surprised at how quickly their hands and lips get dry after surgery. This is because hospital air is nearly always uncomfortably dry. Sometimes, patients even put a little lip balm or lotion on a finger and apply around or just inside of the nose.
- Hospitals can be noisy. If you’re a relatively light sleeper, you may want a pair of soft earplugs to block the sounds of machines, air conditioning, and other devices.
If your surgical procedure is being performed on an outpatient basis, you will be back at home in the comfort of your bed that same day. This doesn’t mean you won’t have a few special needs. For your home recovery, you may want to assemble the following ahead of time:
- Stool softener. The surgery itself can affect bodily functions for a short time. Prescription pain medication is also known to cause constipation. Having an over-the-counter stool softener or prune juice on hand can help minimize unnecessary stress after surgery.
- Ice packs and heating pads. Your post-operative instructions may outline how you can use ice and heat to manage comfort at home. If they don’t, ask your surgical staff or contact our office. Ice packs are preferable over ice cubes because they do not leak water around incisions, which must be kept dry for several days.
- A laptop. Having a tablet or laptop with internet access can help you stay in touch with your support team of medical professionals, family, and friends.
- A reaching aid. Patients who have back or neck surgery may be unable to bend over or reach overhead for a few weeks. A reaching aid with a grabber at the end can be purchased at a pharmacy or medical supply store.
- Extra pillows may be helpful to maintain comfort while sleeping. This may be placed under the knees or at the sides, if necessary, to help prevent rolling over.
- Toilet-riser. Having a higher toilet seat can decrease unnecessary leaning when sitting and standing up from the toilet.
Preparing for recovery is one of the best ways to make the process run smoothly. In addition to these helpful tips, our staff is available during normal office hours to answer questions that may arise. If you need a consultation about back or neck surgery, contact our NYC office at 212-606-1004.