How to Survive Surgery

Posted by on September 29, 2008 at 11:00 pm :: 6 Comments

Since my surgery my life has been somewhat of a balancing act. Everyday my foot feels a little stronger and is slightly less swollen. I am therefore more and more tempted to try to jump back into my normal daily activities. However, whenever I try doing too much, my foot protests by puffing back up and hurting like crazy. Pushing myself to be active again seems to be detrimental to the healing process, but if I just lie around the house being useless it’s very hard on me mentally. I start feeling restless, confined, and antsy. Though I continue to struggle to find a good balance between letting my body heal and going absolutely crazy, I have discovered that some activities appease both my mind and body.

Since most of the people that undergo tendon repair surgery are physically active, like me, the balancing act I am currently undertaking is probably a common dilemma. So for the benefit of any of you who will be having a similar surgery, I will divulge what I have learned in the last month. Also, while I am on the subject of physical comfort, I have come up with a list of items that can significantly improve your physical wellbeing during the surgical recovery period.

reading a book up the canyon

reading a book up the canyon

If you are getting surgery to repair a tendon in your foot here are a few things that you may want to have on hand to help you through the rough days of your recovery:

  1. Cough Drops or Hard Candies: Your throat will be very dry the day of surgery because of the breathing tube they use when you’re under. Candy or cough drops can offer some relief.
  2. Night Lights: Finding your way to and from the bathroom in the middle of the night is much more difficult and dangerous on crutches.
  3. A Few Cheap Pillows, Pillowcases, and Sheets: You will need a few pillows to elevate your foot. Casts and boots can tear up your pillowcases and sheets, so I recommend not risking ruining your nice bedding. Wal-Mart carries inexpensive bedding; it’s a good option to use for your foot in the months following surgery.
  4. The Crutch Pal: It’s an ingenious little pouch that attaches to your crutches and allows you to carry your keys, cell phone, etc. It takes a little bit of the frustration out of crutches. The Crutch Pal can be purchased at: www.crutchbuddies.com.
  5. Flat Footwear: Most of you men probably have plenty of flat soled shoes (And you only need one pair of shoes anyway, right?) but many of us girls don’t have a whole lot of shoes without some sort of heel. After surgery flat or platform shoes are a must-don’t worry, it’s a good excuse for some guilt free shoe shopping. Also, putting on shoes is a very tricky operation these days so I would recommend snug fitting slip-ons.
  6. Ice Pack: Icing isn’t recommended while in a cast because of the risk of getting it wet. But with a boot, ice feels great! There are few joys that equal the sublime delight of putting your foot up after a long day at work and sticking some ice on it.
  7. Shower Chair: At first I was dead-set against getting one of these. The thought of using a shower chair made me feel a million years old. But, I’ve been using one for the last couple weeks, and it’s a lifesaver. I don’t recommend taking a shower until your cast is off; a bath is a much better option for the casted. But once your cast has been removed, the doctor will advocate taking showers instead of baths, to prevent your incision from getting too wet. This is when your shower chair will become one of your best friends. I purchased mine at Walgreens, but most drug stores probably carry them.
  8. Chenille Socks: These may be too girly for you men, but ladies, they feel fabulous inside your boot. I tried using an Ace bandage and I tried a regular sock, but I had problems with both. The Ace bandage would slide around sometimes during wear and bunch up uncomfortably, and normal socks were too tight and painful to put on. Since I already had some fluffy chenille socks I thought I would give them a try and it turns out that they are perfect for the boot. They are extremely soft, comfortable, non-constricting, and have a loose band. Perfect! That’s all I wear with my boot now.
  9. A Temporary Handicapped Parking Permit: These are easy to get. Just tell your doctor you would like one. He will fill out a form, you take it to the DMV, and voila, you have a parking permit. In the first few weeks after your surgery, when you will definitely be feeling lousy, the parking permit makes life much easier.
  10. A Good Engrossing Book or Book Series: Having a book you just can’t put down is perfect for your post-operative recovery period. It helps you forget that you really haven’t left your bed much in days. I have been reading the Twilight series and have quite enjoyed it.

Even with all these items to help make the recovery process as comfortable as possible, if you are an active person like me, the inactivity will probably start wearing on you.

Here are a couple things that I have found help work out the jitters while still allowing your body to rest and heal:

  1. Going for a ride. When I start feeling antsy or just sick of being in the house I get my sweet husband to take me for a ride. My favorite place to go is up in the mountains. Although I prefer to see our lovely Utah mountains from the seat of a mountain bike, since that isn’t possible at the moment, I’ll take what I can get.
  2. Reading a book in the back yard: just going out in the sun and fresh air does wonders. The reclining, lounge-style, patio chairs work fabulously for this. If you put your foot up on a pillow, while chilling in one of these chairs, it’s elevated nicely and you can enjoy some sweet sunshine.
me soaking up some sweet sunshine

me soaking up some sweet sunshine

I found out, unfortunately, that my claustrophobic tendencies were aggravated by my cast. Those of you that are claustrophobic understand, without any explanation, why a confining, tight, uncomfortable cast, which can’t be removed, would make me crazy. Those that don’t suffer from claustrophobia are probably thinking that only a weirdo would have panic attacks from wearing a cast-I can accept that. I wasn’t expecting this side-effect from cast wearing so I wasn’t prepared to deal with it. In the weeks I wore my cast I found, through experience, that the best defense against claustrophobic cast attacks was just spending as much time outside as possible during the day. And if a panic attack did occur, going for a ride somewhere seemed to alleviate it. All you cast totting claustrophobics have my deepest sympathy though, the weeks I was in a cast were definitely rough for me!

I hope this information will be useful to those of you getting ready for surgery. You’ll need all the help you can get!

6 Comments

  • Lauren says:

    I’m glad you’re feeling somewhat better! I can empathize with your claustrophobia…holy cow, when I have a cast I freak out!!! You look lovely and healthy, I especially love the pic of you in the canyon 🙂

  • Rachel says:

    Thanks Lauren! I am feeling a little better every day. And I am SOOOOO glad to have that stupid cast off!!!!

  • Jeremy says:

    Are you sunbathing in your swamp? I take it you got the problem fixed?

  • Rachel says:

    No more swamp! It is now in our neighbor’s yard-at least until they put in their french drain like we did. Our backyard is rather cute and fabulous now.

  • Gloria says:

    I just wanted to thank you for this post. I recently broke my arm, and it is in a cast. After being taken completely by surprise with my ongoing anxiety attacks and intense feelings of claustophobia, I turned to the internet for a little input. I found this post. You have no idea how comforting it is to know I’m not the ony one feeling this way!
    I love seeing that you guys are having such a good time three years later!
    best regards…

  • Rachel says:

    Hi Gloria,
    You are most welcome! I’m so glad my blog was helpful. My silly cast sent me into a panic a number of times so you are most definitely not alone. I hope your cast will be off soon so you can get some of your sanity back. Good luck!

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