Taking care of your patient and yourself: What to do when you are the designated driver during a family member or friend's surgery and recovery

Hip replacements, knee replacements, ACL surgery, Tommy John/Rotator Cuff surgery. We all know someone who has had one of these procedures and more importantly, a Loved One (LO) - be it friend or family member- who will be undergoing such a surgery. Now you’re the person who has been selected to be sober and in control during the time that your LO is impaired.

Uh oh.

The good news is -- it’s possible! Being injured or impaired is no fun for your LO and impacts all of the inhabitants of your ecosystem. So after all of the worry and diagnosis, it is a huge relief to find out a cure can be had. Congratulations, suffering does not have to be forever!

Here are some steps to make the anticipated procedure as painless as possible, both for your LO and for yourself. The real key is good planning and laying groundwork. This is a time when surprises are really unwelcome.

Remember, to avoid infections, hospital stays are much shorter than they used to be and you may get your LO back the same day or the day after--be prepared to have a patient to take care of.

UNDERSTAND WHAT IS COMING AND WHAT WILL BE ASKED OF YOU. Ask concretely about anticipated convalescence time and plan your availability. Ask for time off ahead of time to minimize resentment at work. At the start, it won’t be safe to leave your LO at home alone. If you can’t be there use Doodle Easy Scheduling (www.doodle.com) online to make a schedule so that other friends can help out. When people ask what they can do to help -- here’s a concrete answer!

LAY IN MEDICAL SUPPLIES AHEAD OF TIME. Ask what medical equipment will be given to you and what will be necessary to rent or purchase. Ask what items insurance traditionally covers and check with your insurance company. With enough lead time, you can buy online and save yourself both time and money. Don’t forget to check Craig’s List (www.craigslist.com) for gently used items at a huge discount. Does your LO have a Flex Spending account?--use this to access tax free money towards purchase. Buy a file and save all receipts--many expenses may be tax deductible. Here’s a quick place to check! https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc502.html







MAKE SURE YOUR LO WILL BE COMFORTABLE AT HOME. Have you got ice, plastic cups, enough sheets for multiple bed changes? What will be comfortable to wear during recovery? They need to move freely, while allowing access to the surgery site can be challenging. Reboundwear Adaptive Clothing is the solution for many patients. Here’s a quick video showing how it works: youtube.com/watch?v=UygEwNx-vYY.

FOOD: This is essential, both for you and your LO. Plan and prepare ahead!

You know your LO’s favorites- if you don’t, check and find out in the weeks leading up to surgery. Can you cook and freeze in single serving portions? Even better--can you parcel out this task to those family and friends who are asking to help, but don’t know what to do. A great way to do this is with Sign Up Genius (www.signupgenius.com). Set this up a couple of weeks before the procedure so you’ll know what’s covered and what isn’t.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. You will not be helpful if you are stressed and tired. Make sure you eat well and get enough sleep. Arrange for friends to drop by and to help you if you need it. Make sure to get out of the house and into the fresh air for some exercise and to clear your head. If you are feeling overburdened, identify a friend or a medical team member to share with. Be strong.

GIFT IDEA.  Reboundwear clothes also make a great gift for someone recovering from surgery. With strategically-located zippers, they make getting dressed easy for people who are recovering from various medical procedures and make your job of caregiving easier too.  Our tops and bottoms can be zipped and wrapped  around the patient's body to accommodate casts, slings, braces, splints, and boots. No more struggling to get clothes on after an injury or surgery! Reboundwear™ clothing is chic and comfortable so patients will look their best while they're on the mend.  

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