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Foot & Ankle Problems Message Board


Foot & Ankle Problems Board Index


This post is for anyone out there who lives alone/single mom/or the mom who has to do everything or if you don't have a lot of help. This is not medical or legal advice, just based on my experience. Every surgery is different. My experience is different because he did surgery on my L knee (removed ACL screws, bone graft, meniscus trim) and a Brostrom Repair on my R ankle (bone chip, cartilege damage, ligament repair). Plan on not being able to do much for 8 weeks postop (I'm 6 weeks now and still can only drive short distances using my L foot which is probably not legal, still on crutches, still in boot, still can't have my ankle hanging down for long)
1. Get all prescriptions before surgery, tell the Dr you cannot get them postop, you may have to be pushy. I had Percocet and an anti nausea prescription. Consider asking for a handicapped tag, it's a long slow recovery and hard to get around (I still get fatigued easily). If you get nauseaus easily (e.g. motion sick) ask for a patch behing your ear right before your surgery, I loved that.
2. Ibuprofen and/or Tylonel - if you can afford it, get a big bottle of each. You will go through them like candy (and running out is stressful). If your Dr allows, I like to alternate Ibuprofen w/pain meds. This round the Dr would only let me take Tylonel (not sure if this was due ankle or knee, but be prepared)
3. If your bedroom is upstairs - I highly recommend moving a mattress downstairs, I still have a hard time with stairs. If you can't, try scooting on your butt or crawling on your knee up and down the stairs. If you can afford it, buy a set of crutches for upstairs. Practice because it's hard to stand up at the top of the stairs. Also practice with absolutely NO weight on your surgery leg, you can't even rest on it, it's harder than you think.
4. Shower cast cover - I tried wrapping a garbage bag with tape and nothing sucks more then having water leak in it and trying to blow dry it. I was in a hard splint for a week and a cast for 3 weeks. I ordered mine online.
5. Bench in shower - Mine has built in tile ledge, but I read that you can use a plastic lawn chair. I was non weight bearing for 6 weeks, there is no way to take a shower standing on one leg. Practice getting in and out of the shower on crutches too, it's not easy. For me it's also easier to sit in the shower and take off my clothes there and toss them out instead of getting naked and then getting back up and figuring out how to get in the shower.
6. Water pic shower head - not sure what those are called, but you need the shower head that you can pull out with a long rope that reaches your toes while you are in your chair.
7. Shower stuff - shampoo, razor, soap, wash cloths, etc. Make sure you can reach them and you have a supply to last a couple months within reach
8. Other stuff - colace/stool softener (start taking a day before surgery, take regularly post op, don't forget it or you will be sorry), rubbing alcohol (to wipe off the yellow stuff they put on your leg/toes), gauze or cotton pads to use w/the alcohol. Aquaphor (when you take off your cast it helps with the itching, scaliness, and I rub it on my scars every day, Vaseline if you're on a budget, buy a couple jars). Baby wipes, to wipe off your toes if you don't have a servant who will bring you warm wet washcloths and launder them!
9. Foam wedge - it's a long 8 weeks, I was using my couch cushion but it was really getting beat up so I splurged and bought a foam wedge, figured I should not destroy my furniture. Also extra pillows for propping, it's miserable sleeping in a boot (I'm in my boot for 4 weeks including sleeping in it and that's after 4 weeks in a cast)
10. Crutches and a knee scooter - I can't live without both. I use the scooter to cook, do dishes, laundry, etc (when I need my use hands). I use crutches for just about everything else. I rented a knee scooter, but you need the thing for more than 6 weeks so it may make sense to buy it. I read about people using chairs in the kitchen, so if you can't get a knee scooter, put a chair by the kitchen sink/stove/laundry.
11. Stock up - it's pretty impossible to get things postop. I stocked up on 8 weeks of toilet paper, soap, shampoo, spaghetti sauce, pasta, cereal, drinks, etc. Anything that will keep. I order other groceries online once a week (I have two hungry teenagers) and have it delivered. Oh stock up on cash too, it's hard to get to an ATM and you need cash for tips, to pay back friends, bribe kids, etc.
12. Ice/cold pack - with Brostrom, my ankle was totally wrapped up so ice wouldn't work on the ankle, but it does help w/pain if you put it on the back of your knee (esp that last hour before it's time for pain meds, 20 min on/off). If you're having knee surgery, you really need about a bag of ice a day so empty your freezer and use coolers.
13. Bedside - I bought those plastic drawers from Target and stocked it w/meds, Ibuprofen, Tylonel, plain crackers/applesauce cups (for nausea and you have to have something in your stomach), spoons, chargers (cell, iphone, etc), nail clipper. Also put a stash of water bottles within reach, you need lots of water with all the meds and to get the anesthesia through your system and to keep you regular (pain meds are so constipating)
14. Pain med advice - set your cell phone alarm for the next dose. You need to take before you have pain to stay ahead of the pain (or you will be sorry). I took one tablet every 4 hours. You will also be really spacy and will forget when your last does was. I had surgery Wed, took pain meds Wed/Thu/Fri. Just Tylonel Sat, but one does Sat night, then switched 100% to Tylenol so I could work on Monday.
15. Work advice - I have a desk job and I was able to work at home with my leg out straight under my desk (figure out how to prop it up). I went back to work 5 days post op and it was hard. That's the soonest I would recommend, 7 days is better. If you need to be up and your leg will be hanging, I would say 8 weeks (my wild guess, I have a lot of pain if my leg hangs for more than 10 mins and I get so tired if I make a trip out with walking that I end up on the couch the next day, and I'm 6 weeks postop).
16. Cast advice - I had my cast put on at 1 week post op. If your Dr waits until 2 weeks that's probably better because I had some swelling in my cast and was miserable. I felt gross in my postop splint but that's way better than swelling in a cast. Also if you have wide feet, make sure your toes can spread out, I had to cut the edge of my cast at home because my toes were numb (not recommended). Cast until 4 weeks postop, no weight bearing. And I didn't know, but your pain does NOT go away in your cast you still have a lot of pain. Swelling makes it worse so you have to be careful. Yes, it gets itchy, I used a chopstick (not recommended, you don't want to get anything stuck in your cast). Crutches suck, you will definitely fall over at least once, I did a few times. Get a loofah sponge for when you get your cast off, it feels so good.
17. Driving advice - I'm a single mom. Luckily I have one 17 yo and my 15 yo had a permit for two months. They had to drive me around and get themselves to things and beg rides from friends. I can drive short distances with my L foot (prob illegal) but don't recommend it. I did it once at about 3 weeks postop and will do it a couple times a week if I really have to.
18. Other stuff - figure out how to get day to day stuff done, my kids roll out our trash bins (with lots of nagging from me, mumbling and sighs from them), bring in mail, stuff like that. If you're handy put a basket or something on your knee scooter. I have a duct tape cup holder on my crutches that I use for carrying. Consider a shoulder/messenger bag so you can carry stuff.
19. Food - I recommend food you can cook and carry easily, frozen burritos, hot pockets, frozen breakfast sandwiches, yogurt, etc.
20. To do - stock up on books, movies, etc. I just learned how to knit after I read 8 books and watched every movie/TV show that I wanted too (learn how before and buy your yarn/needles).
21. Working out - I was fairly active/in shape before (karate, crossfit, boxing, gym). Have hand weights accessible. You won't always have the energy, but it's nice when you do to be able to do some arm exercises, core stuff, ab work, etc. Crutching around is a great workout (hurts my palms so consider gloves if you have to do it a lot). Have a foam roller handy for your aching back! I've also been really fatigued (could be double surgery) so I get dizzy/nauseated easily. I also use a band above my knees for leg lifts, hip work, glute work.
22. Girl stuff - go to the beauty salon/waxing right before your surgery, it takes at least 5 weeks before you want to sit in a chair with your leg hanging for a haircut (if you can get yourself there), make sure everything you need for girl stuff is accessible (blow dryer, eyebrow tweezers, girl stuff, etc).
23. Help - you have to have a little help. You need to stay with someone the first 24 hours postop. My mom came once a week for about 4 weeks and helped with dishes/laundry/groceries etc. You need helping going to postop Dr appt, getting kids rides, emergency drug store runs.
Good luck out there! Hope this helps someone with this journey.





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