As I continue to heal from my most recent foot/leg surgeries due to arthritis, I've found many things that make my life a little easier. I attached a small shoulder bag to one arm of my wheelchair and always keep my pain meds in it so they're readily available as needed. I also keep an insulated mug (with a TIGHT fitting lid. I'm SURE I don't have to explain that), my cordless phone, a phone call list, tissues, and a small bag of hard candy (I've found many pain meds make me extra "dry") with me. Before surgery, I had told my friends that I can't always get to a phone, so leave a message on my machine, and I'd return calls as soon as possible. I also try to keep a notepad and pen in each room I spend much time in.
I'm obviously not waiting for my call to the fashion runway, so I have found that flannel "lounge pants" or scrub pants are the most comfortable. Hint: be SURE they have a usable pocket. It seems when I'm "racing " (at tortoise speed) down the hall with my walker, there's always something I need with me so pockets are vital!
To help regulate my body temperature which, post-op, seems screwier than ever, I've found a fleece vest is awesome. They are easy to put on and take off, and provide just enough warmth. I am not able to sleep in my normal bed yet. I've been sleeping on a large sofa in my TV room because it's long enough to accommodate me, and it's easy to add enough pillows to elevate my leg to the required height (above my heart). I can't have heavy blankets and/or tight sheets over my foot because of all of the surgical pins. My surgeon also has asked that I keep my foot in a vertical position to aid in healing correctly, so, for me, a normal bed wouldn't work at this time. I've found that there are some awesome down throws and warm acrylic blankets that are very lightweight, a crucial attribute for me with newly operated limbs. I can't handle anything "heavy" but need the warmth, so these are ideal (and many are on incredible sales right now!)
For a few days post-op, I was told to use ice bags on my foot. When you buy these items, be SURE that they can be re-used (yes, I bought one on sale, only to realize when I got home that they are the one-time only kind -- oh well!).
I know that it's important to keep my body hydrated, so I keep a quart-water bottle in my TV room and always have one in the refrigerator. To add flavor without unnecessary calories, I sometimes put one or two thin lemon slices in them. Although they are a little more expensive, for now, I bought my orange juice in small plastic bottles, because they are more manageable (and less likely to spill) than the large containers. I've also found that I like low-fat yogurt on my cold cereal instead of milk. It doesn't spill, and more importantly, the expiration dates seem longer!
Many people have said, "Gee, you're always so active. What are you going to do sitting in a wheelchair for two months?" I DO read a lot, but I've found that the key for me to survive in a relatively healthy mental state from these long recuperations is to vary the activities. I increased my NetFlix membership for my down time to increase the variety of movies to watch (of course, then, I have to call someone to bring my mail up the stairs to me). Yes, I avoid the stairs like the plague, because they are still pretty much an impossibility for me -- they're just waaaaaaaaay too hard still. With surgical pins sticking out of my toes, and tons of sutures all over, I just don't choose to risk the stairs except when I have to visit my surgeon every Tuesday.
In addition to a little TV and some movies, I've been knitting squares to use up a lot of my leftover yarn. I made a promise to myself to knit each grandchild one sweater .With 8 wonderful grandkids, I finally finished that project and had all of the leftover yarn staring at me. I found that there is a company in Lexington, Kentucky, who takes these squares and assembles them into afghans for shut-ins, as well as VA hospitals. I've known about it for years, but somehow never seemed to get started on this project.. With no further excuse, I picked up my needles. This company also has some customers making helmet liners for the soldiers in Iraq, but the powder blues and soft pinks just don't work for that!!!
The major "thing" that keeps me going when the going gets tough (and it REALLY does on some days, post-op) is having a long-term goal. Nothing as simple as walking without pain -- I unfortunately, don't think that's a reality for me -- but something I really CAN achieve. With God's help, wonderful surgeons, and the love and prayers of special friends, I WILL be returning to work as a volunteer in Moshi, Tanzania, East Africa this Fall. I worked there for 3 months last summer, and know that this is where I want to be, this is where I need to be. I can't control my disease, but I CAN control how I respond to it. I can turn my life toward helping others. I have osteoarthritis, it DOESN'T have me!
Published On: March 23, 2009