Is knee replacement surgery on your calendar? Do yourself a big favor and start to prepare now. It can make your recovery go a whole lot easier and faster.
Plan early. Even before you set a date, think about how an operation will affect your life. Things may be stressful after joint replacement for at least a few weeks. Prepare now to make the surgery go smoothly and to speed up your recovery.
Ask questions. Gets specific information from your doctor. How long will the surgery take? Could I have the surgery as an outpatient, without a hospital stay? What type of anesthesia will you need? What kind of rehab will you get? What type of assistive devices will I need at home after the procedure? Should you bank blood before the procedure? How long will you likely be off work? Write down the answers. Better yet, have a trusted friend or family member come to your appointment to take notes.
Move and lose it. If possible, try to get in better shape before your surgery. You’ll recover more quickly if you're physically fit. Ask your doctor which exercises you should do before the operation. Working your arms and upper body, for example, will make it easier for you to get around on crutches or a walker. If you’re heavy, aim to drop some weight to lighten the stress on your knees.
Quit smoking. If you use cigarettes or other tobacco products, stop or cut down. Smoking slows your recovery and makes your wounds take longer to heal. It also raises your chances of complications and infection during and after the surgery.
Practice. Before surgery, learn the physical therapy exercises you'll need later. Try them out. If you get used to them now, they'll be easier to do later. If you'll need crutches or a walker, test drive those, too.
Jot it down. Chances are, you’ll be asked for the same medical and insurance information over and again in the coming weeks. Carry a handy list of:
- All your medication and supplements
- Any health conditions you have
- Your insurance policy and membership numbers
- Your doctors’ names and phone numbers
- Persons to contact in an emergency
Line up help. You're going to need it while you recover. If you live on your own, recruit a relative or close friend to stay with you for a while. Ask a neighbor to take out the garbage or bring in the mail. Freeze extra meals or stock up your pantry before you head to the hospital.
Get your home ready. Move things in your house so it’ll be easier to get around when you're less mobile. You might need to set up a temporary bedroom on the first floor. Clear your hallways to make room for crutches or a walker. Consider installing safety rails in the bathroom. Keep everything you need -- from your phone to your coffee maker – within easy reach.
Follow orders. Your doctor will instruct you on what to do in the few days before surgery. They might have you stop some meds, especially ones that can make you bleed more during surgery. Mark detailed orders on a calendar so you won’t forget.