Preparing for hand surgery

bronwynsmomJune 17, 2008

I asked about this, and Lily answered thoroughly and thoughtfully, in the "Clearing out - cleaning up" thread, and so I thought I'd refer to it in a new post so other people with the same issue can find it.

Lily, thank you!

I'm having one hand at a time worked on, so I'll have one functioning hand/arm while recovering. Some of my old dear sister-friends have offered to come and stay in shifts at first, which is really lovely of them...they all live out of town, so we will have the benefit of a visit, too. But I am insisting that we limit each to four days, so as not to press my luck and their patience.

I particularly appreciated the idea of buying food already cut up, and using the slow cooker. The butcher can cut the meat up, and when my DH is away, I can eat like a medieval kitchen maid and just pick up the pork chop and gnaw on it!

Which is starting to sound like fun...

And I loved the idea of keeping wipes around to minimize running water while encased in plaster.

I'm in pretty good shape, and weight is not an issue for me, so wrestling with simple clothes should be pretty easy. I realize, however, that somebody will have to help me do laundry and change beds for a while.

Driving the car should be interesting...likewise schlepping groceries...and doing dishes. Paper plates, don't you think? And I live in a city near a university, so the take-out options are pretty various.

Thank you for helping me think about this. Planning is everything!

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Because I do this anyway, I would probably cook a lot of meals ahead of time, and package them individually to reheat in the oven, from the freezer. I have a vacuum sealer, which allows me to do this very easily, as I can freeze and seal the entire plate of food. I use smaller pie plates, and start reheating them in a cold oven, so there's no huge temperature variation from the freezer to a hot oven, which might cause the glass to crack. If not doing dishes is your goal (which would be mine!), I'd probably buy foil pie plates to accomplish the same thing. This is a time (like Kitchen Remodeling) when it's okay to use and toss the trash! I tend to go for one pot meals that have it all like twice baked potatoes (stuffed with broccoli and bacon), casseroles that include a little dairy with vegetables and know what to do. I'll often make lasagna, cook it, cut it and repackage it for the freezer, and make individual packets for garlic bread as well. If it were me, I'd ask my friends to bring/make lots of salads, so they can cut your veggies for you!

I'd stock up on books, (which for me would be a big part of recovery) so if you have a tv tray at the right height, a cookbook holder would allow you to read without having to hold the book. If you could splurge on one with wheels, even better. I think Levengers has something like that which could work well.

Dresses seem easier to manage than putting on pants.

Good luck to you and a quick recovery!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 12:06PM
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This is an example of what I was talking about. You may not need this, but it seems like it might be very handy in this particular circumstance.

Here is a link that might be useful: Brookstone's rolling reading table

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 12:11PM
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Wonderful idea to ask friends to bring salads. I have never been in the habit of cooking ahead, but this is no doubt the time to start.

We don't have a microwave, but perhaps this is also the time to buy one. When we moved into this house, the gas stove had a combination fan and microwave over it at a height of (get this!) 14" off the surface. Of course we took it out, and haven't replaced it, except with a proper vent fan.

Stocking up on books is coals to Newcastle in this house! I intend to get through the piles beside my reading chair and my bed, and then start on the bookcases full of books people have given me that I haven't gotten to. I have an iron cookbook stand which sits comfortably on the island...but thank you for thinking of the rolling thing. I would love to have that so I could work on my laptop more comfortably.

And thank you, too, for your good wishes. I am trying not to dread this, but to focus on the good reason to be exquisitely organized so that all the things I can't do aren't hollering at me from across the room!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 12:33PM
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Oh, yes! DO Give yourself a'll be glad of it. It's absolutely wonderful for reheating things in a jiffy.

Don't forget when things are hollering at you from across the room, Now is the time to invest in ear plugs. Blinders on your glasses too! It's perfectly acceptable to do exactly as you please while you recuperate.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 1:23PM
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I can eat like a medieval kitchen maid and just pick up the pork chop and gnaw on it!
Which is starting to sound like fun...

I particularly like pork chops for this style of eating. There's something about their flavor that lends itself to this sort of thing....

Me, I don't like salads. I *love* fresh vegetables, though, and it takes two hands to cut them or to peel them. So, I'd be asking people to bring me fresh veggies, or I'd be trying to buy them precut from salad-bar-type places.

Definitely, help w/ laundry and cleaning.

What else can you farm out? FreshDirect for groceries, maybe?
Can you get some carpool help from work?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 1:39PM
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So wise of you to pre-plan...Definitely get groceries delivered or brought in by your friends when they come to help. You really do need 2 good hands and arms to carry them.
Also have you thought of one of those long sticks with the grabers on the ends. It will make picking up things easier. Your balance will be abit off with one hand in a cast, so you will be safer too, not trying to bend over.
I had a torn tendon in my shoulder a few months ago and you cannot imagine the things we do routinely with 2 hands. Like getting pants up and down to use the toilet. Think nightgowns and shifts instead of pants.
God made us with duplicate sides of our body for a good reason that we do not realize until we have lost the use of one side!
Best wishes and please let us know how you make out!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 2:26PM
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Since I work for myself at home, I only need to drive for chores and events and invitations, for which I can count on a group of friends, and my Godchild, who will be attentive (and who just bought a house ten blocks away). And the couple who are our best friends are dedicated farmers' market shoppers, so they will supply me now and then. We are so lucky to be four who all like all of us...none of the dreaded "loved him, hated her" that so often happens.

Thank you for reminding me to call in markers. I have always been extremely self-sufficient, probably to a fault. What I hear in all your helpfulness is, oh, just shut up and let people help YOU! I suspect because I am content to spend a lot of time alone, asking for some help will keep me from getting isolated.

So...point taken. I will now turn my creative thinking toward all the ways I can ask for assistance. I am liking this already. Any more fabulous ideas??

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 2:31PM
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I'm useless for ideas, but a small tightly fitted ....ummmmmm.....undergarments or socks/nylons, and no tie up shoes. Fly front slacks are also a pain in the knuckle :^)( I had a hand out of commission for 12 weeks last year) I did want to send my well wishes...we will be thinking about you!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 2:08PM
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My best thanks to all of you. Haven't scheduled the event yet, but will certainly check in when it happens.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 3:54PM
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If you will be looking for microwaves, GE makes several models with "express cook" (it's printed under buttons). Anything from 1/2-6 minutes starts with the touch of one button. Love mine. And powering down or adding 1/2 minutes is just as easy. Sandy

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 10:31PM
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My mom broke her right shoulder and elbow a couple of summers ago. She is widowed and lives alone but thankfully less than 10 miles from me and my brother and has many wonderful neighbors.

One of the first things I left for her to eat was chicken drumsticks. I knew that when I was with her I could cut up the many different things her neighbors brought over. Then I re-wrapped many of those things. Took them out of their hard to open Tupperware and placed things on paper plates or saucers, loosely covered with plastic wrap.

I bought her a (modest) loose fitting nighties that zipped down the front. She had some kind of tassles in her sewing box that we fixed to the zipper to make it easier for her to manage them.

She had a lot of trouble operating the pull on the right side of her lazy boy chair (injured side). So we got a footstool from a different room and put it there. When she wanted to get up she would shove it aside with her legs and reposition it with her "good" arm later on when she wanted to sit again.

Her town had a shuttle service for people in need. She did have to call a day in advance to get the service but it would take her anywhere within a certain radius, not just medical appointments. The charge was minimal. You should check if your community has this! I know my mom was not capable of making a hard turn with the steering wheel and was on some heavy duty meds in the beginning as well.

A friend removed her regular shower head and put a removable hand shower unit in so she could have better control of the water.

We changed the voice mail on her telephone to allow her more rings to pick up before the voice mail came on.

Best of luck with your surgery. Keep in mind what another poster said; you are allowed to recupperate and put your needs first. After all, there is only one you!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 2:54PM
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Here is my experience with hand surgery! A year ago (June 19!)I had the joint at the base of my right thumb replaced. I was in a cast almost up to my elbow for seven weeks.

Eating salad is extremely difficult unless you just pick it up with your other hand and cram it in your mouth! Anything that involves small motor movements can be very frustrating. You will find this to be even more so once the cast comes off, because your muscles will be out of shape, and you will gradually have to increase the use of whatever part of your hand that had the surgery.

I always had someone write my checks so all I had to do was sign them. Using a credit card was not a problem because it was obvious I was incapacitated! (I went to a long splint after surgery, which was worn at night and when I was out and about and more likely to be careless.)

Buttons are difficult unless the buttonhole is a little loose, and I found zippers to be even worse. To fasten my bra, I put it around my waste with the hooks in front. By bending back the material under the loop end so that the loops were completely exposed, I was able to slide the hooks in. Then I simply turned the now fastened bra around so the hooks were in the back.

I had the same surgery on my left thumb in January which was less difficult because I am right handed. However, it is cold in Minnesota in January, but I found a very large oven mitt to slide over my cast and it kept my hand toasty warm!

If you can go without pantyhose, do so. If you have to wear them, cut off the foot plus six inches of an old pair to slide over your cast. That way you won't snag the pantyhose you are going to wear! That also helps with sliding your cast through sleeves. There were a lot of things I couldn't wear because the cast was a really big lump at the end of my wrist and was too big to go through the end of the sleeve.

Find a pair of earrings that you don't mind wearing for a long time! The ones with hooks were the easiest. The removable backs were impossible because I couldn't get my thumb and index finger close enough to grasp it.

The other caution is that your good hand may get sore from over use, so you need to be careful!

I didn't have any trouble driving (automatic shift) because my fingers were exposed enough to hang over the wheel like a little claw.

About three weeks after I had my right thumb done last summer, I had my right shoulder worked on, digging out some torn cartilage and generally cleaning it up. This made the period of incapacitation shorter, rather than having the surgeries back to back.

I am a teacher, so it totally trashed my summer. We have a pool, and I couldn't swim. (That is why I had my left thumb done in January, so I would be recovered by summer!)

Anyhow, I hope this has helped you a little bit. If you have any questions I will try to answer them!

(BTW, what is the surgery you are having? -- or did you already have it?)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 7:46PM
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