5 simple steps to help you prepare for spinal surgery
When you’re waiting for spinal surgery, lots of things can go through your mind – and taking a few steps to prepare for your procedure and recovery where possible can be really beneficial.
While your consultant and hospital nurses will ensure you’re all set in terms of looking after your wound dressing and any pain medication you may need, take a look at these five simple steps that could also help.
1: Make sure you know what’s going to happen
If you’re waiting for surgery, such as a microdiscetomy or laminectomy, then you and your consultant will already have discussed why you’re having the procedure and what it entails – but now’s a good time to write a list of any questions you might have about what to expect. Not only can this help reduce any nervousness you might have, but it means you’ll be better prepared for your recovery phase too.
2: Get set for starting your post-surgery rehab
Your consultant will talk to you about any activities you should or shouldn’t do after your surgery. You’ll see a physiotherapist too, who’ll explain important things like avoiding any lifting for a number of weeks, and how to gradually build your strength back up and return to full fitness – but one thing that often surprises people is how important it is to keep active while you recover. Of course, this doesn’t mean hitting the gym a week after your op, but depending on the type of surgery you’ve had and assuming everything went well, you will probably be advised to start taking short walks as soon as you’re able to, slowly building up your distances and speed over time. It’s a great idea to be all set by ensuring you have some comfy, elasticated leggings or trousers ready, plus sports shoes that are easy to slip on (so you won’t have to strain to do up the laces!). Maybe think about nice places to head out for walks in your local area too.
3: Reach out to friends for company during your recovery
Your consultant will advise on how long you’re likely to need off work after your surgery, and it may be a few weeks or so before you start returning to all your normal activities. While you may be exhausted and sore immediately after leaving hospital, and recovering will take priority, it’s a good idea to think about looking after your mental wellbeing during this time too. Keeping connected with friends and family can be a great boost – so if a friend offers to pop round for a coffee, take them up on the offer, and there’s FaceTime and Skype chats too.
4: Think about how you’ll adapt your self-care routine
You’ll probably need to be careful not to get your dressing wet until your surgery wound has adequately healed, which often means you can’t have baths for a while and showering might be tricky. This can be frustrating but it’s vital you follow all the after-care advice you’re given, or you could risk developing an infection. Get set up with a little wash station to tide you over – things like soft flannels, dry shampoo and baby wipes might be handy.
5: Fill the cupboards with healthy meals and snacks
A nutritious, balanced diet can be important when you’re recovering from spinal surgery. Not only will eating well help your body with the recovery process, but chronic pain (which you’re likely to have experienced prior to your op), and the surgery itself, can impact your energy levels and take their toll emotionally too – so think about giving yourself some extra TLC and nourishing your body and mind from the inside! You probably won’t be able to lug shopping bags home for a little while, so stock up before your op.