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Preparing for surgery

In the weeks leading up to the joint replacement surgery your ‘patient’ will be preparing their home for the recovery period and may need your help. When they first get home from hospital they will be on crutches (or similar) and have limited mobility, so furniture may need to be moved, rugs removed and cords taped down – ideally this preparation can be done before you both leave to go to the hospital.

  • Medical information: Bring a list of all medications, any alternative therapies, nutritional supplements, allergies, health conditions and the names and phone numbers of all doctors and healthcare providers. A list of the patient’s previous surgeries or procedures may be asked for too
  • Insurance information: Have medical insurance cards and other insurance references with you
  • Identification: Bring your own photo ID and keep your patient’s ID where you can reach it
  • Legal documents: Take paperwork regarding Power of Attorney and any Living Will Surgery paperwork, including information leaflets about the joint replacement you may like to refer to while you’re there
  • Phone/email list and a pre-paid phone card if the hospital doesn’t allow mobile phone use
  • Passwords: While in hospital or while recovering, your patient may ask you to access some of their accounts, perhaps (online) bank accounts or facebook etc. Making a list of passwords before the surgery can be helpful

During the patient’s hospital stay they may not be up to long conversations. So you may have the opportunity to turn the waiting time into productive time for yourself. For example:

  • Bring something to read and enough cash for coffees, snacks and possibly temporary internet or phone access cards
  • Take a passive hobby with you – like knitting or catching up on correspondence
  • Perhaps you can take your laptop or iPad (& charger) – but check with the hospital first regarding their policy on electronic devices
  • A pen and notepad can be handy for any checklists or lists of questions you or your patient may want to create

If you will be staying with the patient temporarily you will need to pack too. Don’t forget your own medication, sufficient clothing and personal items as well as something to read. You’re likely to be in charge of the laundry and shopping so you will be able to pick up some supplies as you need them. Perhaps you have a friend who can be available to chat with you as your support person – let them know what’s going on before the surgery.

References