If your spouse is planning to have spine surgery, even if it will be an outpatient procedure, you’ll need to accept some added responsibility during your significant other’s healing and recovery process. Taking on this extra burden sometimes strains relationships, but it doesn’t have to if you have a better understanding of what you can do to help your spouse after spine surgery. Here are some tips to point you in the right direction.
Be Aware of Post-Surgery Care Needs
Sit in on pre-surgery appointments with your spouse, especially ones with the surgeon when post-surgery care needs will be discussed. Being at appointments can also ease stress for your spouse, since you can take notes as he or she focuses on asking questions. You can also help your spouse by doing a bit of homework in advance. For instance, if the scheduled procedure is ACDF surgery, Los Angeles residents can do some research ahead of time and prepare specific questions to ask. Other than making sure comfortable transportation back home from the hospital or surgical center is arranged, immediate care after spine surgery for your spouse will likely involve:
- Making sure he or she stays properly hydrated
- Assisting with surgical dressing changes
- Reminding him or her to take post-surgery pain meds as directed
- Looking for signs of wound site infection (e.g., unusual discharge, redness, fever, swelling)
- Watching for signs of anything out of the ordinary, such as an uptick in pain
- Helping him or her get to/from post-surgery appointments
Prepare Nutritious Meals
It may be tempting to let your spouse opt for comfort foods as he or she initially recovers, but doing so could lead to weight gain and increase inflammation around a healing spine. Instead, focus on nutritious and healthy meals you, your spouse, and the rest of your family can enjoy. Also consider:
- Preparing some easy-to-heat/reheat meals
- Doing the regular grocery shopping
- Putting the food away so your spouse won’t have to reach or bend
Offer Encouragement for Post-Surgery Physical Therapy
Take some of the stress out of regular post-surgery physical therapy sessions by encouraging your spouse and pointing out any progress you notice between sessions. Also, gently remind your spouse to do home-based exercises to strengthen spine-supporting muscle groups.
Pick Up the Slack with Family-Related Duties
Every family has unique circumstances and arrangements for how things are done. Figure out ways to pick up the slack for your spouse in a way that makes sense for your family’s needs. If you have kids, you might give them rides to and from afterschool obligations and make sure their needs are met. Other ways to make family life easier for your spouse post-surgery might include:
- Doing the household chores
- Going to the pharmacy to pick up medications
Enlisting help from other family members and friends (e.g., asking a neighbor to take care of your lawn for a while if your spouse normally does this)
Take Time for Yourself
You’re not going to be much help to your spouse if you’re worn out or overly stressed yourself. While caring for your spouse, make sure you’re taking care of yourself by:
- Taking some breaks
- Getting regular exercise—even a 30-minute treadmill run on a machine at home can be helpful
- Knowing when to ask for help from others willing and able to lend a hand
You can start helping your spouse before the spine surgery by taking steps to get the home ready for the recovery period. Depending on the type of procedure, preparation may involve setting up a temporary sleeping area on the first floor or placing items used daily on easily accessible shelves, stands, dressers, or tables. It can also be helpful to remove potential slip-and-fall hazards, such as loose throw rugs.
Your spouse’s Los Angeles spine surgeon should be happy to answer any questions you have and help you prepare to make your loved one’s recovery go as smoothly as possible. Patients and their families who would like more advice about post-surgery preparation should contact the spinal health experts at The Spine Institute. Our specialists lead the industry in innovative methods and cutting-edge treatments that enable patients to get back to their normal activities as soon as possible. Call us today at 310-828-7757 for a consultation.