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I surely wish I had known more of the good, the bad and the ugly that the doctor does not tell you in how to better prepare for and what to expect during Ankle and Foot surgery. I hope this discussion will also allow others to share tips on what helped them prepare.
What you can do 1-2 weeks before surgery
Take on the nesting personality of a pregnant woman. If you have not been pregnant or are a man don't worry I will explain. Nesting is getting the house clean and organized. As you will be relying on others and will definitely lose control of how things are done around the house please know this alone can be a challenge for some. I will admit I like my towels and sheets folded and stacked the same way and my pantry organized. Well if you can just throw this idea straight out the window before surgery and get in the mindset that your support system will do the best that they can and I promise you will get it back organized down the road. For me at week 8 I stood on one foot and refolded all my towels. My husband said "oh that was so nice of the cleaning lady to do that!"
As you are preparing by cleaning and organizing keep in mind you do not want to be bending over looking thru bathroom cabinets for your every day items. Put your daily items on the counter as it will make your life a whole lot easier. I put a transport chair type small wheeled medical chair in my bathroom so I could sit to brush my hair and many weeks down the line put on make up.
Do yourself a favor and get a shower chair. You will not be able to stand to shower and also purchase a waterproof cast cover bag.
Life will become much easier as well if you purchase a raised toilet seat for any bathroom you may use during your recovery. I did not think of this until I was on the potty and wondering how long it would take until someone noticed I was missing and come rescue me. If you don't believe me try to get up only using one foot and you will soon see the predicament. It will save your care giver an emergency trip to the store. They also sell handles if you feel these will help.
You will not be getting out much and will not want to get out much for a while so ask your doctor for a 90 day refill on your prescriptions and get them all filled. Same goes if you wear anything like daily contact lenses, take vitamins etc. Speaking of vitamins after surgery I would suggest taking Biotin for skin healing, vitamin C for your immunity (I got a horrible cold after my surgery), vitamin D and B12 will keep your spirits and energy up as it is a long, boring at times and very different from your normal life as you know it life.
Stock up on tissues as you may encounter some weepy moments the first few days after surgery. At times I did not even know why I was crying but in talking to other foot surgery patients crying seems to be part of the process. Have gauze pads, rolled gauze, alcohol pads, betadyne and adaptic on hand if the doctor has you do any wound care down the line.
Speaking of wounds if you are having plates, screws or bone grafts done there is a god chance your incision will have some difficulties healing. Mine reopened after the stitches were taken out and I have met many people that have encountered the same thing. It took one of my incisions 9 weeks to close and the same went for the people I have met. Having the items on hand helps avoid an extra trip to the store.
Cooking some meals ahead of time and freezing them will be helpful to your family and care givers. For the first couple weeks when you are on pain medication everything tastes horrible and your stomach may be nauseous from the medication. Keep crackers, English muffins, bread, eggs and light soups in the pantry to keep something in your stomach to help when the nausea. If you like to make soup you could do this in advance and freeze it. My neighbor made me homemade chicken soup and I will be forever grateful as it was the only thing that tasted good and that I actually wanted.
I strongly suggest buying a knee scooter with a basket to help yourself carry little things you will need. I have a 2 story home and actually got one for each floor. You can buy them used on sites like eBay or thru garage sale sites on Facebook and then sell them when you are done. The scooter is so much easier than crutches. You will need crutches too as you become weight bearing and again I suggest a pair on each floor to make your life easier.
The most important part is lining up as much help as you can get. Your primary care giver is going to get tired too as you need medicine in the night and they run around taking on all of the extra responsibilities and it is hard for them to see you in pain. Make sure you tell them ahead of the surgery how much you appreciate what they will be doing for you. If you can line up people to help with driving your kids around, driving you to your weekly doctor appointments, help with cleaning or laundry it will make your life so ,uch easier. Explain to your kids if you have them that they will need to be really understanding and helpful that you will need help for a while. Tell them it may be hard to see you in pain and to see you possibly cry or struggle as you do certain things at time but assure them it will be ok and it is going to be hard for them to watch you be in pain. I think it is easier when kid stops know what to expect. Tell them ahead of time what they could help with such as carrying their folded laundry to their room and putting it away, helping with the laundry, helping load and unload the dishwasher etc.
The day before surgery
Try to enjoy walking as you will not be doing it for a while. Make sure you have a clear path to the sofa and to your bed without any obsticals in the way. Mentally prepare that this is going to be harder than you expect and think about how you may encounter some other obsticals you are not expecting and just take some time to realize you can do this and get thru anything. Obsticals you may ask....oh yes things happen. I got a urinary tract infection from the catheter they inserted during surgery. On top of the foot pain I had that pain and now had to get up every 15 minutes to use the bathroom which is not a fun task when you are in pain and on one foot. I also had an allergic reaction to the pain medicine and had such a bad rash even the sheets hurt me. You may feel overwhelmed and like it will never end but get yourself prepared by knowing anything you face will get better. My daughter had ankle surgery the week before my surgery. My husband is a true saint to have cared for us both at the same time. But 2 weeks into her recovery she fell down the entire flight of stairs. This is the stuff you do not plan for but can happen.
The recovery is slow, boring and at times you feel like you are watching the hours pass by. Try to have some things lines up that when you are feeling up to it can help pass the time. Coloring books, drawing paper, a craft you can do while keeping your foot up etc help the day go by faster. So purchase some colored pencils and have them ready. Also start to work on the meaning of the word patience. You will come to know this word well. The word slow will come into new meaning for you too. Oh and the word sleep will be your new best friend. You will sleep a lot as you are recovering the first few weeks and will be exhausted as your body heals. But it will get better as you enter into the later part of your recovery where you start weight bearing and therapy. Then you will have a different kind of tiredness.
I wish you the best outcome and be positive and celebrate every little improvement and step forward as you will be "stepping" again even though at times it seems so far away. Always keep telling the people that are caring for you how much you appreciate them and thank them. Believe me without them it would be impossible to have the surgery.
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