When I was told my partner was done with surgery and I was told not once but twice that I could go to room 226, as soon as the nurse walked away, I realized I had no idea what room number she had told me because all I heard was that he was ok. You will likely be more anxious and overwhelmed than you had expected, even if you did everything under the sun to prepare. Offload in advance and make a list for yourself of what you think you might need in terms of support and environmental comforts...these are a few ideas
To-do list pre op
- PRIOR to surgery, create a list of people to update WITH your loved one when surgery is in progress
- Set up an advanced directive if need be
- Clean the house, do the grocery shopping and meal prep in the days BEFORE leaving for the hospital. Set up pet or child care as needed.
- Bring headphones, activities, and blanket/pillow/overnight bag (toothbrush, contact case/solution, glasses, comfy clothing, etc) to the hospital (FYI: I brought a blanket for myself just in case the hospital didn’t provide one for caregivers but didn’t realize that my partner would need it more than me because hospital blankets are so thin! I was pretty cold and didn’t sleep at all! Bring 2 warm blankets just in case!)
Caregiver role post op
I took 5 days off to be home as a caregiver
- You will be responsible for cleaning: laundry, washing dishes (especially heavy pots/pans, etc), any heavy chores (taking out the trash, making the bed, cooking, grocery shopping, vacuuming, child/pet care, etc), errands/driving, gardening/yard work, making fires if using a wood burning stove
- You can help keep track of medications and drain emptying (your loved one may be loopy the first few days!) with either an app or our logs
- You can help position your loved one in bed or on the couch with pillows/towel rolls
- You can remind your loved one to be gentle with use of their arms (in and out of bed especially; remember the step stool if needed)
- You can help your loved one to get up, gently move around/do daily activities such as dressing and sponge bathing, squat to reach to the floor rather than reaching, and do recommended exercises with them. It is a balance of helping where they need it and letting them be independent.
- You can set up the house for independence, keeping things within easy reach (think fridge/freezer, bathroom supplies, cabinets, closets, etc.) especially prior to them being on their own. For example, we put our soda stream on the floor and my partner used his toe to make soda water! I also lowered the percolator to a low table rather than the higher counter, and would fill the coffee pot with water prior to leaving the house in the morning, so he could just press start button without lifting).
- You will keep your loved one’s friends and family updated on progress and/or needs
- You can love them every day of their recovery!