Preparations for Surgery
by Shelley Johnston, PT

My first concern for you would be home safety. My last job as a Physical Therapist was in the area of home health. I always did a home safety check when I was there. Here are some things to look for:

-Do you have handrails for all steps in and out of the home?

-Have you picked up all throw rugs, electric/phone cords or anything else that may be in the walkways?
-Is your smoke detector in working condition?
-Do you have grab bars in your shower to get in and out safely as well as to hang on to while showering if needed?
-Do you have grab bars around the toilet? Remember, towel racks, toilet paper holders and doorknobs are NOT made for holding the weight of a person! Do not ever use them for this purpose.
-Do you have a shower seat to sit on if you get too tired to stand? A hand held showerhead is a good idea to go with it.
-Do you have a non-slip surface in the shower/tub?
-If you have a bath mat outside your shower/tub, does it have rubber backing to prevent slipping? If you need an assistive device (walker, cane) be extra careful around this mat, it is a good idea to remove it and only use it when you are bathing.
-Do you have night lights in the bathroom and all along the pathway there?
-Is your water heater at 120 degrees or lower? Scalding occurs at 106 degrees or higher.
-Do you have a fire escape plan? You should think of two ways to escape from each room in your house.
-Do you have a portable phone? You should carry it with you if you are left alone. You can tie a plastic shopping bag to your walker and slip it in to have it close wherever you go. If you were to fall you would have the phone close by to call for help and you wouldn't have to rush to answer the phone. No phone call is so important that you should risk a fall to answer it. If you don't need a walker you can tie it to your belt if you can.
-Keep all walkways clear with plenty of room to get through.
-Keep a list of all medication/dosages and diagnosis in a brightly labeled zip lock bag or medicine bottle in the front of your refrigerator for emergencies (Paramedics look there for info)
-Are all of you pajamas and robes above ankle length to prevent trip and falls?
- Do you have a reacher to pick things up if no one is around? These can be found at most medical supply stores.

There are other things you can do to prepare yourself for surgery. Make sure to eat as healthy as possible to give your body all the resources it needs to repair itself. Take a couple of deep breaths every few hours throughout the day to keep your lungs in good shape.

Do some isometric exercises of your leg muscles to keep your muscles in the best condition as possible so when you get out you will be more stable on your feet. These can easily be done standing, sitting or lying down. Tighten your buttocks to a count of 5; repeat 10 times, 3 times a day. Do the same for your knees- straighten them out and tighten the muscles on the front of your thighs to a count of 5, repeat 10 times, 3 times a day. Remember to continue breathing, do not hold your breath! It is much better for your heart to not hold your breath.

Another good exercise to help keep your balance is to stand at the kitchen counter, lightly touch the counter only for balance (grab on if you start to loose your balance), and slowly go up and down on your toes. No need to hold it there, just slowly go up and down 10 times, rest, and repeat 10 more, do this 3 times a day. If it is too easy, you can do it on one foot then the other. Do not push down with your hands. This eliminates the whole purpose of the exercise.

If you are a praying person, pray for a calm spirit, wisdom for the doctors and a quick recovery. If you are not, perhaps some meditation for relaxation would be a good idea to mentally prepare you for the upcoming surgery.