Tips and Tricks to Help During Periods of Recovery

I'm getting ready to have major surgery in two weeks. While I'm not looking forward to the surgery or the long road to recovery from it, I am looking forward to the rest that is needed to recover. I've been on the go and overwhelmed with work and life in general and have longed for rest. So, six weeks of taking it easy sounds enticing. 

But before surgery, there are things that need to be done to prepare for six weeks of not being able to do anything. Some of those things are:

Schedule a lawn care company to mow and trim the lawn during the recovery period. I'm having abdominal surgery, so pushing a lawnmower or hefting around a weed trimmer just doesn't sound pleasant. But, I'm pretty positive the HOA would not approve of letting my yard go for six weeks. Research your lawn care company. There are companies like Angie's List or Yelp that allow customers to rate various companies in varying industries. I did research the lawn care companies, only to find that the one offering the best deals only had a one star rating. Needless to say, I opted for the one with the reasonable prices and the high rating.

Prepare your home for a long recovery time. I hired a carpet cleaning company to come in and clean my carpets. The preparation process for this allowed me to clean and purge my home, as well. Leaving everything in a clean, neat, orderly fashion. There is just something about a clean home that allows us to heal and feel better in the long term. Make sure you have clean sheets, your dishes are clean and put away, as well as your clothing (see the section about the clothing you plan on wearing for suggestions on how to handle those pieces). Stock up your freezer and pantry with foods you will need to help sustain you. My mother has already stated that she will not be running around constantly. So, be prepared.

Get help. I'm lucky to have a great support system who has offered to help me while I'm incapable of helping myself. My mother will be staying with me for a few days, while other friends and family will be offering respite for my mom while I'm in a needy state. If you do not have a support system, look into hiring people or groups to help you out. There are companies that do deliver groceries to your home, like Peapod. And even in long periods of needed rest, look into home health care options for even someone to come sit with you to do things like light housecleaning, laundry, and just keeping you company.

Consider hiring a maid or cleaning service. Yes, the thought of hiring a maid or cleaning service may seem scary, especially when considering the cost of hiring one. However, since your home is already in good condition from preparing for a long recovery time, the amount of time they need to be in your home is lessened and the cost is lower. 

Line up a laundry service. If you or your support system find the laundry pile daunting or growing at too much of a pace, consider hiring a laundry service that can be delivered to your home. Or even have a friend or family member drop them off at a laundromat that offers laundry services. This way there isn't too much of a taxing job on your support system, and keeps you from doing any unnecessary lifting which is often a no-no during the recovery process.

Line up child care. Whether in home or at a center, ensuring that young children receive the necessary attention they need while you are incapable of providing it is very important for not only their well-being, but your own. Lifting and helping small children can hamper the recovery period and time. This is where the no lifting or bending part of the restrictions your physician/surgeon will give you comes into place. Yes, you'll want to cuddle and help your children, but allow them to come to you to sit on your lap or curl up next to you. Having a support system and in home care givers allows you to not worry about helping a small child into a high chair for meals and bath time. This is a very important step to have in place.

Educate your family and friends. This step prepares them and helps to eliminate or limit surprises during your recovery time. This way they'll know the habits of your children, what to expect during your recovery, and what you will need, as well. Educating them helps them know what to expect and to be prepared for. Luckily for me, my mother has had this same surgery so she is well prepared and has a sympathetic knowledge of what will be expected and needed.

Consider kenneling pets during the first week. A pet doesn't know that jumping up into your lap or onto your wounded body is not healthy or conducive to your recovery. In fact, it can be downright painful. Yes, you want your pet's innate sense of comforting you during this period of time, but they inability to understand your needs or limitations during the early part of your recovery. Once you have passed the worst part of the recovery process, you can reintroduce them to their home and in your life. Besides, we all know that pets relax us and help alleviate stress and anxiety.

Line up entertainment. While I wouldn't recommend using RedBox while you are unable to make the trip to and from the pick up/drop off sight each day, try talking with friends and see about borrowing movies you might not have seen recently. Vudu and Netflix also offer streaming services to keep you entertained (I recommend the Heartland series on Netflix). Visit the library and pick up books in a genre that suits you best.

Get creative. This is the perfect time to take up a hobby that doesn't require too much energy. Learn to knit, crochet, paint, or even just pick up an adult coloring book to preoccupy your time. Because we all know that while it feels good to be bedridden for a few days, being relegated to it for a long period of time gets old. Plus, they say that being creative stimulates the brain and helps decrease the risk of Alzheimer's or dementia. It is also known to help relax us to aid in having, albeit a small amount, a quicker recovery time.

Prepare your wardrobe. Like I said before, I am having abdominal surgery, so loose fitting clothing is a must. I have ordered from Old Navy a good number of drawstring shorts and over-sized t-shirts. I've also ordered an abdominal band to help reduce the amount of discomfort and to help keep the remaining organs in place during the healing process. While it may seem like a cluttering problem, place your comfy clothes on your dresser or bathroom counter so that you do not have to unnecessarily bend or squat during your recovery period. In warm the warm season, flip flops become your best friend as putting on socks becomes nearly impossible, let alone trying to put on lace up shoes. In colder weather, consider a warm pair of slippers to keep your toes warm, or even ask your support system or home health care personnel to help you with the task of putting on socks. Let's face it, the one place you'll probably be visiting the most will be the doctor's office and not the local Walmart. Which means you will be well received and not judged for showing up in your jammies.

Try yoga. I've read many articles, even those suggested by my physician/surgeon, that relaxation prior to the surgery actually not only helps them, but helps you in the long run. Going into surgery with anxiety weakens the immune system, leaving too much room for infection and a slower recovery time. The deep breathing techniques helps you to meditate (I use prayer and visualization during the meditation portion of yoga), helping to release relaxing chemicals in the brain.

Apply for Short Term Disability and FMLA prior to your surgery. This helps to reduce the stress about your job. The Family Medical Leave Act protects you from losing your job during your recovery time. Although, there is a limit on the amount of time you can be off where you are protected. So do your research. If you applied for Short Term Disability, or your company offers it, this will help protect your income by providing you a steady flow of income during your time off. My own coverage only covers 60% of my gross pay (remember, Federal and State taxes, as well as insurance premiums, 401K and other deductions are not taken out during this time), but you will not be driving, eating out, or other unnecessary spending during your recovery time. If you are well prepared, you will also not need to be needing to spend extra money or unnecessary spending during that time either.

Make lists. Help your support system, care givers, and other help by making lists of things you will need done or help with during this time. If you will be taking medication during your down time, or know you'll need refills on prescriptions while you are down, be sure to write down your birth date for them to pickup your prescriptions during that time. Have a list of when and what prescriptions you will need to take during your day or week. Have your pill dispenser and prescription bottles in a safe place where your caregiver or support system can readily access it.

And finally, talk with your physician and surgeon about what you will need after your surgery. Most physicians and surgeons will prescribe needed prescriptions prior to your time off. This way you'll be able to pick them up prior to your time off. This way you don't have to worry about picking these items up after your surgery. Even though you'll have someone driving you, sitting in a car after surgery is not exactly conducive to the rest you will need.

And most of all, relax. Take time for yourself and celebrate yourself. Things will be better once your are healed and back on your feet. Having all of these things in place also helps keep you from overdoing it once you are released to normal activity levels. Remember to not overdo it while you are recovering, as that also can set back and lengthen the recovery period. And we don't want that happening.  It is always important to take care of yourself first. Yes, the nurturer in us will want to care for others and neglect ourselves, but let's face it, when you are greatly compromised in your abilities, that becomes the last thing you need (not want, but need) to do.


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