Getting Ready for Your Heart Surgery Recovery at Home
More than half a million heart surgeries are done each year in the United States, according to the National Institute of Health. This once scary surgery is becoming more-and-more commonplace, and with increasing success rates, more people are recovering at home after their hospital stay. However, please, please, please get your home ready BEFORE you go in for surgery to make sure your are prepared. Here are a few suggestions for you, your family and friends.
Duane Hunt – Mitral Valve Surgery Patient Recovering at Home
Be Patient With Your Recovery
You should receive discharge instructions from your doctor when you leave the hospital, but it helps to be mentally prepared for a recovery time of several weeks or months, notes WebMD. This may vary depending on your health prior to the surgery, any complications that happened while in the hospital, and your motivation to follow instructions when you get home.
A Comfortable Place to Recover
Your healing can depend on you being active, but when setting up your home, have your goals be comfort and convenience. Move furniture around, in advance, so it is easier for you to get around your house. Moving from your bed to the bathroom to the kitchen to the living room should not require navigating an obstacle course.
You may have some dizziness during the first few weeks of recovery from your heart valve surgery, so try to have things you can hold onto when you walk through the house. A chair placed here and there will break up long stretches of open space, and will provide you a place to rest if feeling dizzy. The National Library of Medicine suggests you have someone stay with you for the first two weeks of recovery in case you do need assistance.
For a few weeks following cardiac surgery, you may have some discomfort in your chest or ribs. In the hospital, it was likely you receive a big red pillow or towel to hold against your chest when you cough or sneeze. Whenever you are in your house, have a pillow or towel handy in case a cough sneaks up on you.
The Big Red Patient Pillows
Because of the discomfort, you may find it difficult to sleep. You might consider renting a hospital bed or a recliner for a few weeks so you can raise your head or feet to get in a better position. If you find it difficult to sleep during the day, but don’t want to make the house completely dark, look at the solar shades at theshadestore.com for various styles and levels of sun blockage. These window treatments will let diffuse light in while keep out the glare and heat of direct sunlight.
Place some small tables around the bed to hold important items and save you some steps. You don’t want to get comfortable in bed to discover the TV remote is across the room by the TV. You will need to be careful reaching and stretching so you don’t put stress on the incision. Specifically, don’t reach behind you where your chest area might expand. Place everything you need in front or just off to the side of you.
Your doctor will tell you how much activity you can do and when. Following their specific instructions will help to speed up your recovery. Keep in mind that some activity is a good thing, and much better than lying in bed all day. Be prepared that you will be instructed to get up and walk periodically through your house. Help ease back into your active lifestyle by having a comfortable chair next to your bed so you can change positions throughout the day. If you have to climb any stairs, do it slowly and carefully.
Do you have any tips or advice for setting up your home for the recovery from heart surgery? Feel free to share your ideas by clicking here.
Keep on tickin!
Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of HeartValveSurgery.com.