Recovering from surgery might look painful or lonely, but it doesn't have to be. While inconvenience and recovery pain are unavoidable, you'd be surprised at how many people are willing to help if you ask.
When assembling your back surgery recovery team, here are 7 people you'll need for support.
1. A Designated Driver
You shouldn't be driving for the first couple of weeks following your surgery. Ask your doctor when it's okay to get behind the wheel again.
Although you may handle a short drive home from the hospital after discharge, it shouldn't be much more than that.
It can feel crippling to lose your ability to drive. But if you can't drive yourself, you can enlist a buddy who doesn't mind chauffeuring for a while.
2. A Secretary
The first few days after your surgery, your life will be dominated by to-do lists, to-don't lists, appointments, and prescriptions.
If you're not super-organized yourself, have someone write it all down or be there to remind you. Following recommendations is key to recovery.
3. A Chatty Kathy
While you're laid up, it's good to have human interaction to distract you. In fact, even simple phone counseling can improve outcomes after back surgery
Invite someone over who will be up for chatting. Or call someone who doesn't mind talking while they get things done throughout their day. Even just having someone to text who you know will answer back may do some good.
4. A Worrier
You'll need someone to check on you for the first few days. You'll have to watch for symptoms of serious complications like blood clots or infection. Signs of complications after back surgery include:
- Tenderness or redness
- Swelling of the ankle, calf, or knee
- Temperature higher than 100°F
- Drainage from the incision
5. A Task Rabbit
The worst part about recovering from back surgery may be the loss of independence.
Housework and chores are forbidden, which may be liveable. But bending, twisting, or lifting anything more than 10 pounds is also a no-no, which can leave you feeling helpless.
If you have a friend who doesn't mind helping out with the small stuff”taking out the trash, bringing in the mail, carrying in groceries”now's the time to call in a favor.
6. Pet Therapy
Having a pet around isn't just comforting. It also helps on a biochemical level.
Interacting with pets eases stress and depression. They can cuddle with you while you're lying in bed or follow you encouragingly as you start moving around.
And if you have a well-trained dog, her barking can alert someone if you fall down.
Source: Frontiers in Psychology
7. Depression Monitor
With loss of independence and possible pain, it's easy to feel low. You have to be vigilant and check that these feelings don't last too long.
No matter who's looking after you, it's important to make sure they're also keeping tabs on your mental health.
Signs of depression your caregivers need to watch for include:
- Feelings of emptiness or cynicism
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Lack of interest in previously pleasurable activities
Support doesn't just have to come from family and friends. If you have any concerns, symptoms, or questions you feel should be addressed by a professional, head to the The Spine Center at EIRMC to speak with a trained specialist.