With some types of spine surgery, patients usually go home the same day. Other times, there’s a need to remain in a recovery center or designated recovery area for a few days. Even if you’re having a minimally invasive, same-day procedure, there will likely be a brief period when you’ll need to be observed until your surgeon is confident you’re able to safely return home. No matter how long you end up spending in a recovery area, there are some important things you’ll want to have with you.
It’s important to keep water and vital nutrients flowing through your body and around the affected area of your spine immediately after surgery. Water can also minimize post-surgery issues with constipation. Pack a reusable water bottle so H2O will be within each reach. Consider a water bottle with a flexible drinking straw so you won’t have to strain to sip.
If water doesn’t effectively prevent issues with post-surgery constipation, you may be given laxatives by the recovery staff to help your digestive system function better, as it may work a bit slower after surgery while your body focuses on healing. If you have a favorite brand, bring it with you and let the staff know it’s what you prefer if you do need laxatives.
With certain procedures, there may be post-surgery swelling. Ice packs applied to the affected area can reduce inflammation and increase comfort. Again, the facility you’ll be at will likely have an ice pack if you request one. However, you’re welcome to bring one you’re more comfortable using. Just remember to ask a staff member how to safely use it on or around your surgical site.
Even if you end up wearing a gown during your operation, you’ll likely be able to change into your own clothing at some point during the observation period, especially if the plan is to discharge you later that same day. Avoid the need to strain as you get into your clothes by bringing comfortable items like sweatpants, a loose-fitting top, and slip-on shoes with you. Also, don’t be shy about asking a staff member for some assistance if you’re having difficulty with your clothes. It’s better to err on the side of caution rather than risk reinjury.
Some surgical procedures require a longer recovery period, such as those involving a coflex implant. Santa Monica patients who know they’ll be in the recovery center for a day or two should consider bringing some personal entertainment with them. Aside from staving off boredom, things like books, an iPad, and laptops or tablet computers can also keep patients from dwelling on any lingering discomfort they may be experiencing.
When you do get to go home, be just as prepared by asking your surgeon or someone on the staff what essentials you should have as your recovery continues. Oftentimes, home preparations include many of the same things already mentioned above plus additional steps like setting up a temporary downstairs sleeping area. A member of your surgical team can offer additional suggestions for recovery center and home prep as you get ready for your procedure.
Taking these essentials with you can make a huge difference in your level of comfort as you recover after spine surgery. If you’re well prepared, you’re likely to have a better overall experience, from before your procedure to the time you’re discharged to go home. Patients who would like more advice about what to bring to a recovery center should contact a trusted Santa Monica spine surgeon for more information. The spinal health experts at The Spine Institute have years of experience in every aspect of spine surgery, from pre-surgery preparation to post-surgery recovery. Our specialists know what patients can expect and how to maximize comfort during recovery. Call us today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.