Reader Question: How Do Your Prepare for 6 Weeks of Down Time After Surgery?

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Question sent in from reader, Cara:

Hi Collin! I’m having surgery, a Myomectomy, in about 4 weeks and trying to prepare myself for 6 weeks of down time. What are recommendations for food, Crock Pot meals and things to do to stay occupied when you have driving restrictions/lifting restrictions?

I’ve never been out of commission for this long so I’m trying to plan ahead and think ahead. Also, what are recommended comfort items to take with you to the hospital when you’re going to be there for a few days? I spent the entire time in my icky hospital gown during my last hospital visit.

Please share any tips you have below! Thank you.

(Thanks, Cara!)

Join The Discussion

Comments 90

  1. visitor3

    Update friends’ and relatives’ phone numbers in your phone so you can enjoy long overdue calls with loved ones while recuperating.

  2. Kara

    With my 3 shoulder surgeries I took up jewelry making- which sounds crazy since I was in an immoblizer- however, I could still use my hands just fine!
    For my cystectomy I just lined up Netflix shows. I felt fine the day of surgery on that one, you never know, your body might heal quickly.
    Also, stock up on easy, healthy pre-packaged food.
    I drank bone broth before and after my last surgery and I felt great.
    Set up a “command center” next to your bed. Chopstick, lotion, bottled water, snacks, books, charger, etc.
    feel better soon!

    • Kara

      Ha- Chapstick not chopsticks ๐Ÿ˜

      • Amy

        I read every reply and yours was last. Chopsticks cracked me up! Glad to know you meant chapstick because I would not want to learn to use chopsticks while recovering from surgery! ๐Ÿ˜…

        • Kara

          Haha- now that would be a bit much ๐Ÿ˜‚

  3. Yar

    Arrange your house to a more functional and comfortable one! If you can change the shower to a hand held one like a rinser and get a shower chair it will be great, the water pressure should be less and it will be easier for you to handle. Please ask for help when you need it! Don’t let your pain get out of hand and do take laxatives! Rest and sleep as much as you can to heal faster, keep all clothes and shoes close for easy access! God bless you!

  4. A. Gold

    First- get well and heal fast! I was in the hospital for 3 weeks for a bone marrow transplant. Then home for 100 days. I read mostly magazines, as I had little attention span. A surge protector and extension cord are a must. The outlets are never close enough to plug your things in and be accessible. I kept a little plastic basket on the table next to my bed so my phone , chapstick, were right there. Important- take a notebook and pens- write down your questions and what the drs. and nurses tell you. I got dressed everyday in yoga type pull on pants and a tee or tank under a zip front hoodie or jacket type. The hospital may be cold so bring some kind of jacket. If you are getting up and walking- which you should do as much as you can. Wear sneakers, more support, comfort and secure than slippers. Load your phone, computer or iPod with music and movies. There is always tv as a last resort!

  5. Kristin

    My husband has spent some time recently in the hospital, here are my recommendations based on being the “guest” in the hospital. Things to take to the hospital:
    1) Deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, facial wipes/baby wipes, dry shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, etc. I highly recommend the facial wipes as you can take a quick “spit bath.” Both for the patient and the spouse. Even if you don’t have a private bathroom (I.e. ICU) the nurses will let the spouse shower in the facilities.
    2) Chromecast (I bought one on a Hip deal for less than $20). I would watch all my recorded DVR and movies on Netflix and Vudu. My husband and I would have movie night each night. And while he was sleeping or in tests I could catch up on my shows ๐Ÿ˜€
    3) Your own pillow! No matter what! Plus a blanket and slippers.
    4) I always packed snacks and treats. Plus, I also took snacks to the nurse’s (both day and night shifts). My fav to take are chips and salsa. One nurse told me they get lots of candy and cookies around the holidays, so I thought a nice salty snack with some healthy salsa was a good gift. The nurses really appreciated the snacks. Plus they were more willing to help when you hit the button!
    5) A hat! That is always helpful when you don’t have time to use the dry shampoo.
    6) A good book. For both the patient and the spouse. You can only watch so much Judge Judy (also hence the Chromecast).

    Things to do while home and down and out:
    1) Read, read, read. Request the newest NYTimes best sellers at the library now so they are ready when you get home.
    2) Catch up on all the latest Red Box movie releases. There are always promo codes for Red Box.
    3) Get a panini press. You can make lots of different sandwiches with it and it’s simple and easy. Get pre-sliced cheeses and deli meats from the deli counter. That way it’s a simple meal to put together. You can even do a “build your own” panini sandwich. Just put out all the meats, cheeses, and condiments. It’s like your own Zupas! Each family member gets their own meal!
    4) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even if you ask the neighbors for a frozen pizza. People will come running when you ask for help.
    5) Let your family members bring dinners every other day. There will always be enough for leftovers. Space out your neighbors and family given meals by a day so you aren’t overloaded all at once.

    I hope this helps!

    Good luck!

  6. Kimberly Harris

    All this information is great. I will be having surgery last of May or first of June on my neck and spine. 6 weeks recovery and I cant drive so I have been stressed about that. Amazon delivers which is great. My youngest daughter lives with me, she cant drive but she can bring in a amazon box. Do you know of any other companies that deliver food ???

    • Deb

      Don’t know where you live, but our Meijer store has started a new delivery service called Shipt. You go online and make your order, then a personal shopper fills the order and delivers everything.. you can even communicate with the shopper to change your mind, answer questions, specify sizes, whatever.

    • Julie D.

      My surgeries were unplanned from a fall and I had 12 weeks of not using my Right arm (including no driving). I also had 3 children under 5. While more expensive than my normal budget, I placed a Swansons order from the hospital. The delivery guy even filled my freezer. Our Kroger also has online ordering with curbside pickup. I didn’t want to ask for frequent help, but once a week a friend would pick up the groceries I had ordered and bring them back. Since then, local services will pick up your online grocery order.

  7. PDX To OGG Mama

    For the hospital: flip flops, chapstick, earplugs, eye mask, hair elastic, conditioner, and tablet, headphones and charger. Best wishes for a speedy recovery!!

  8. Audrey

    I went on a medical leave for three months and honestly that was the best time I even had in reference to using coupons. I always use coupons , but being home allowed me to plan ahead and over stock on several items. Also scrap booking is a get hobby to help pass the time

  9. Cj

    Prayers for your upcoming surgery.
    Ride when you can! Save your energy post surgery the first two weeks. If you have an appt and there is a wheelchair, think ahead to what else you must accomplish that day. Remember it takes time for the anesthesia to leave your body. Fatigue may be an issue. When standing up, do it slowly in case you have light headness. Have chairs set between you and the bathroom in case you need to sit on the way there or back.
    Do not take OTC laxatives until you discuss this with you Dr.
    A grab it stick is your friend!
    Heating pad if okd by your Dr.
    List of meds including OTC in case of an emergency!
    Upon discharge from the hospital, ask what if questions in regards to an OMG issue after you return home.
    Check out online groups that post about your type of surgery.
    Prep now will be advantageous.
    I have been chronically ill for 23 years. Don’t feel bad if you aren’t interested in reading or crafting post surgery… the meds have a way of reacting. Sleep, rest and heal!

  10. type1dmom

    HI, First of all, I wanted to say THAT SUCKS about the surgery, but best of luck to you. I was in a similar situation a few years ago and ended up getting a hysterectomy because of my fibroids. Best thing I have ever done, though, although not if you’re wanting to have kids in the future.

    Anyway – I went on Pinterest a couple weeks before my surgery and looked up slow cooker make ahead meals and picked about a week’s worth of recipes that I liked then a few days before my surgery I spent the day shopping, prepping and bagging up all the ingredients for the meals with the instructions written right on the bags and then stuck everything in my freezer. I also purchased some Reynold’s slow cooker liners for easy cleanup.

    After my surgery, my husband would pull out the meal for the day and put it in the slow cooker, following the directions on the bags. In the evening we’d have a nice home cooked meal and then he’d just throw out the liner, rinse the crock and set it up again for the next day. After the first week, I was mostly up to cooking again or going out to eat. I also had my husband help with things like draining pasta, etc that are a little heavier.

  11. Autumn

    I hired an assistant. He has done everything from clean, laundry, pay bills and groceries. I’ve been out for 1 month after shoulder surgery. Sooooo worth it. Then I don’t feel frustrated seeming things pile up

  12. Tracy

    A company called Norwex sells microfiber wash cloths- called the ‘body pack’. These are really great for hospital stays, especially when you aren’t able or it is inconvenient to shower. You don’t use any soap with them, just water, but you will feel clean and refreshed! Even if you are able to shower, they are nice for washing hands & face. It’s easy to feel yucky in the hospital, even just washing off your face is a huge help! Prayers for a successful surgery & recovery!

    • Lori

      Love this suggestion!

  13. Deb

    I had 2 different foot surgeries requiring a lot of down time. I worked on photo albums, read lots of books, cut out pieces for quiet books I would later make, TV and movies, of course, naps. An iPad or similar is wonderful for catching up on emails, news, etc. I agree with the “grabber” tool. Everything was just a touch out of reach. A bed rest pillow was great also. I used it to sit up on the couch, but also to elevate my foot when turned the opposite way.

  14. Linda

    I wasn’t able to lift things & had to limit walking for 6 weeks after my surgery. I prepped by making freezer meals and by thoroughly cleaning my house before the surgery. Since I wasn’t going to be able to do much I did not want to have to look at a messy house.

  15. Mrs. B

    If you have Internet connection in the hospital or even at home, download pics on shutterfly and build photo books, etc. and save them to order for when they have great deals going. Bible is a must have for me. Always a comfort. For crock pot meals, you can make easy chicken tacos with just several chicken breasts, jar of salsa, package of taco seasoning. Just shred chicken after cooked. Also, there are lots of soups, creamy italian chicken, roasts, etc. you can make in the crock pot. I make sloppy joes and reg tacos and put in the freezer ahead. Just don’t cook them down after adding juices so they are not dried out when you reheat. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  16. SONYA

    Check Groupon and Living Social for a deal on housecleaning. You’d be surprised how much dust and dirt you notice when you can’t move.

  17. Pat

    Make sure your stock pile is well stocked to take care of your family while you are not mobile. That was what I did. I still had to get up and cook cause nobody else would. Thank god for pain pills.

  18. SaraBeth

    Don’t forget to pack an extension cord to take to the hospital. You don’t know where the outlet will be and I used my phone for entertainment a lot when I didn’t have the concentration for reading. It was really helpful not to have to contort myself into funny positions to see my phone screen while it was charging.

  19. Abby

    Just had excision surgery which removed my ovary and appendix and 6 inches of bowel. I was in hospital for 5 days. Couldn’t shower til the last day. I’m sure your recovery will be sooner because not as much will be done. It’s really hard for me to bend down and my husband just went back to work after a week and half. So there will be dirty floors and what not. Magazines, books, and Candy Crush are keeping me busy. Friends are bringing food and we have frozen crockpot dinners for the 3rd week. You’ll be back in the saddle before you know it. Trust your body and don’t overdo anything.

  20. Lori

    If you have animals line up kids, family or neighbors to help feed and care for them. After my hysterectomy i couldnt carry bales of hay to my goats or tend to my other critters. Family members helped out.

  21. Gerta

    Remember that getting rest is most important, especially after your surgery and soon after you get home. At night, make sure to turn off your phone so that you won’t get awakened with a text or email! Initially, have one friend or family member be your main contact person to minimize any stress of dealing with visitors and phone calls. Once you are stronger, that person can be you of course! Wishing you a speedy recovery and best wishes Cara!

  22. Cara

    Collin, thank you so much for sharing my question.

    Thank you for all of the suggestions and well wishes everyone. I felt so emotional reading these posts and seeing all of your kindness. Hip2Save is such a wonderful community.

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You are SO welcome Cara! Wishing you a speedy recovery! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  23. Cj

    Let that and sweeping, dust mopping, cleaning litter boxes to anyone that wants to help!
    When you are going home, have your driver put a blanket, car sickness bucket with paper towel and wipes in the vehicle. Add a bottle of water. Pain meds can cause nausea quickly.
    Prayers for your quick recovery and healing!

  24. Colleen D.

    Drink lots of water and rest, rest,rest!
    I was basically bed bound for several weeks after major spinal surgery.
    A small bell- to ring when help is available so you don’t have to keep yelling. Keep next to you, tissues, water, a snack, your phone, iPad with chargers.

    • Colleen D.

      Sorry I posted to soon …
      Baby wipes,Pen and paper, a grabber can be very helpful, charging blocks and cords for phone etc. a spare complete set of clothes in the bathroom, a water proof pad to put under you well you are resting, just in case, you have some type of accident, a sheet and a blanket, heating pad or ice pad if recommended by your dr., pain medication and any other medications you may need, chap stick.
      Things to do: online games( candy crush, hidden objects, etc) craft hobbies( scrap booking , cross stitch, knitting, adult coloring, oragami, beading, etc) lots of books or a kindle etc if you like to read, ear buds and great music loaded onto your phone. Baby books or small batches of photos that need to be organized, or other things that you never seem to have the time to do. Pick some projects that you would like to do at some point in the future( making a fairy garden, remodeling your kitchen, a vacation, etc) and spend time on Pinterest or other sites researching ideas and costs etc .
      For hospital stays: your license and insurance cards, a list of all your current meds, and any allergies,your health care proxy if you have one. I take my own pillow, anything you need to sleep( cpap, eye mask, music,etc), chapstick, some comfy sweats or larger leggings or shorts, capris, pj bottoms etc( so your butt isn’t hanging out of your gown) underwear, your own pads etc, baby wipes( even if it’s to wash your face and hands after a nap,etc)a sports bra or comfy bra and a shirt or two , do you have something to wear if you don’t need to have a gown on all the time, fuzzy socks, a robe, slippers, moccasins or whatever to walk in, that don’t tie, are easy to slip on and off but aren’t so sloppy that they may cause you to trip, a hair brush and hair ties, a few dollar bills( for vending machines) if you want a snack or soda.charging cord for phone, a book or small things to do. Toothbrush and any other personal care items that you may want to bring( the hospital may not have shower gel and only dial soap etc) When you are on your way home, the pillow will also help to hold against your abdomen. Leave at home: contacts, purse and anything that can’t get wiped down or washed when you return home.
      Things to plan ahead, have who ever is waiting with you send a group text to anyone you want notified of how the surgery went( and that person has all the contact numbers). That you have someone at the hospital and to give you a ride home. Set some extra comfy clothes under garments, socks etc on your dresser( it is very frustrating for you and any one helping you, to not be able to find your black leggings, or your fuzzy red socks, etc) purchase any of your favorite snacks or quick lunch or meals ahead of time as well as your favorite drinks( you are not going to be able to go get a case of bottled water for a while, if that is what you drink,etc) also other staple items you can prepurchase is helpful( dog food, toilet paper) Keep some cash at home in case someone is helpful enough to go to the store for a gallon of milk etc for you. Pay your bills ahead for a few weeks. Fill your car with gas, pick up any medication you may need. Think about your day to day life and prepare as much as you can ahead, as it will take a while for your energy to return. If you have children, you need to preplan as much as you can, is it spirit week when you are in the hospital? Are they starting cheerleading that week and need shoes, hair ties and $70 for their uniform … etc.Do they need a ride to or from after school activities? What about meals( can you always get them to eat granola bars, chicken nuggets or pb and j sandwiches( make sure you have that in the house)What do you always take to daycare with them? What is your routine with them? Make a list to assist others that may be helping you .

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