The key to a quick and complete recovery from any type of back surgery is planning. Your surgeon will explain what you can expect after your procedure, and you may have friends and family you can count on, but it’s up to you to plan ahead. Taking care of the details before you have your surgery makes all the difference in your back surgery recovery.
Part of that planning involves making sure you have enough support — and the right kind of support. One or more caretakers, depending on your needs and the length of your expected recovery, will put your mind at ease and allow you to focus on getting well. And that’s essentially the caretaker’s role: letting you relax and heal, knowing that everything else is under control.
Arrange for a Caretaker Right Away
Your back surgery recovery begins the day of your procedure. So have someone available — whether a family member, a good friend or a paid professional — that day. Since all the surgeries performed at the Southeastern Spine Institute (SSI) are outpatient procedures, you’ll need someone as soon as you’re released to help get you home, set up and comfortable.
You’ll definitely need help that first day, but a caretaker’s duties continue until you’re well enough to fend for yourself. Your caretaker(s) can be that friendly presence that you can count on, right from your first day home. Regardless of what other planning you do to prepare for your procedure, make sure you have the support of an able caretaker right from Day One of your back surgery recovery.
Caretaker as Caregiver
A caretaker is really a caregiver; the two terms often are used interchangeably. The main thing to remember is that a caretaker (or caregiver) has to specialize in “care.” It helps if your caretaker knows what to expect during your recovery, from medical issues that might arise to your preference for movies, books or games. So share information from your surgeon and spell out your wishes regarding what you’ll want as you recover.
If your doctor wants you to get out of bed after that first day, your caretaker can help get you up and moving around. A good caretaker can devise a schedule that includes appropriate exercise and meals, managing your pain medication and arranging fun downtime. Recovery from back surgery is a serious matter, though, so follow your surgeon’s instructions closely. Eventually, you may need to return to SSI for a follow-up exam or physical therapy.
Back Surgery Recovery Takes Time
Measure your recovery in weeks or months, not days. Every day brings you closer to a complete recovery, but only if you do the work — such as the prescribed exercises to gain strength and heal fully. Armed with a schedule, your caretaker(s) can make sure you eat right, exercise regularly, get your meds on time and have enough distractions to help you through the long days. When you know you’re in for the long haul, it truly helps to know you have someone you can rely on.
Until you gain enough strength and flexibility to manage for yourself, your caretaker(s) can assist with:
- Helping you into and out of bed
- Keeping your incision clean
- Getting to the bathroom
- Bathing and grooming
- Getting dressed
- Fixing your meals and cleaning up
- Running errands and grocery shopping
- Monitoring your medications
- Providing company
- Taking care of your pets
- Making sure you don’t overexert yourself
- Keeping you positive and focused
A positive attitude improves your recovery time and helps motivate you through the difficult early days. A good caretaker has unlimited patience to calm you when you feel frustrated. And when you’re in the midst of back surgery recovery, that patience is a blessing.