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Be Safer After Post Bunion Surgery, Ankle Surgery, Knee Surgery, etc. With Safety Products

by Barbara 30. January 2014 06:52

Question about products to make recovery after foot surgery safer.

Q: "I am scheduled to have bunion surgery in a few weeks. Do you have suggestions about what preparations I need to make and what products I need to make my recovery safer. Thanks, Mary."

Answer: Having gone through bunion surgery in November 2013, I have some knowledge about this, for sure! I wish someone had given me this information prior to my surgery.

First, at the visit where you schedule the surgery date, ask the doctor for a medical statement so you can get a temporary handicapped parking permit. In the State of Iowa this means filling out a short form and sending it to a state office with the doctor's statement. In my case, I learned about this permit 6 weeks after my surgery. My sister knew Pennsylvania had them. I got the mdical statement and took the on-line form to the orthopedist after my hospital discharge. (I was one of the 10% who developed an infection and spent 5 days on IV antibiotics in the hospital two weeks after surgery). In Iowa, the permit is good for 6 months. (Oh, and if your foot hurts worse 5 days after surgery, what you need is to see the doctor quickly, not be prescribed more pain medicine. I was not to unwrap the foot prior to the first post-op visit and took the additional pain meds.

Second, here are some items I believe you need for safety prior to your surgery.

  1. A foldable walker with wheels. Buy or borrow one. Medicare does pay for walkers. Your insurance might. Have it at home when you return from surgery. Why? Because the "boot" (Medicare pays for this, too) is made so that you can put no weight on the front of your foot. Therefore walking is dangerous to say the least. Your "booted" foot is higher than your barefoot or foot with a shoe. Also getting on and off a toilet without a walker requires at least one grab bar (which my bathroom could not accommodate due to design. You will need this when you walk outside your house as well unless you have a wheelchair and someone to push it!
  2. A shower chair or bath bench. Borrow or buy one. I love my shower chair even now. Your foot cannot get wet and washing standing up is a real trick if you cannot put weight on both feet. My shower chair has side handles. For a shower, you take off the boot and wrap your foot in plastic bags, etc.
  3. Either a higher toilet or a toilet seat riser or one that clamps onto the toilet toilet seat with lid that clamps to the side of the toilet. Here is one with removable arm rests.Getting up and down off a low toilet is a real chore. We have had the higher toilets installed in two bathrooms.
  4. Grab bars. See below.
  5. Slip proof your ceramic tile floors. Either use Grip On solution which lasts for years and years or use lots of skid proof floor rugs and shower and bath mats.
  6. Make a chart for date, time, medications, etc. or buy a pill box with timer. You don't want to miss your meds!

Remember that you must keep your foot elevated above your heart level as much as possible to reduce swelling. This means you'll be sleeping on top of your comforter with your foot propped up on a large or many pillows. Ice packs do help when the boot is off. I found having an electric blanket or electric mattress pad under me and wool blankets as covers kept me comfortable in the winter. Get lots of library books or tape your favorite TV programs. You'll spend a lot of time prone those first weeks. Ask the doctor lots of questions like: do I have to wear the torture boot day and night? Etc. Do not miss your pain pills!

Home grab bar installations can be vertical, horizontal or diagonal.

1. Vertical grab bars  (straight up or down).  Have a handyman or carpenter install grab bars into studs or use anchoring devices.  A shorter vertical bar mounted at the tub or shower entrance helps the person to enter or exit without losing their balance and falling..  Two more grab bars in the shower or tub let the person rise from the tub or bath chair or give more stability when the person is washing herself or himself. Usually the grab bars are 12, 16 or 18 inches long. We also sell Lumex Chrome Grab Bars - 32 Inch, Knurled that have better gripping surface and have a 250 lb. weight capacity. Save if you need several by buying the Chrome Grab Bars, 32 In Knurled, 3/CS by Medline.  For those with glass sliding tub doors, the grab bars offer a secure way to regain balance.  In order to install this grab bar for my mother, the handyman had to remove the 1950's glass sliding doors as the door track interfered with the mounting.

2. Horizontal handicap grab bars. This installation gives the option of using the grab bar as a towel bar, too.  Typcially wall studs are 16 inches apart on center. If you examine other exposed areas of your home, you can determine more accurately where the centers are in the studs. Otherwise use a hollow wall anchor system available at hardware stores.  That is why 16 inch, 32 inch and 48 inch grab bars are most common.

3. Diagonal  installed. At the side of my Mom's toilet, there is a diagonally installed 32 inch grab bar. Installation may be more difficult. The positives are that grabbing a diagononal bar puts less stress on one's wrist. If installed in a shower, the diagonal bar is preferred by those who face only the shower head.  The horizontal bar has can be used facing forward or backward but the height if obviously the same no matter where one grabs.

Grab bars are  measured from the center of one flange (the round area that conceals the screws) to the center of the other flange. The flange covers typically measure about 1.5 inches on either side of the grab bar. So add three inches to the total length of the grab bar you need.

Safe Home sells quality grab bars from Lumex (Graham Field Health Products) and Medline Industries. Most are sold in packages of 3, all the same size. Lumex has individual packages as well. Your material/color choices include Chrome plated, White enamel over steel and Nickel Plated Steel. ADA compliant grab bars include the Carex brand from Medline in 12, 16, 18, and 24 inch sizes. Additional lengths are available. Just send us an email if your grab bars must be compliant with ADA.

Thank you for your question. Good luck with your surgery. By the way, I had an orthopedist do my foot: my podiatrist said that if he did it, I'd be on crutches for 6 weeks. I've since met women who had both feet done at the same time: they had family and friends care for them for several weeks.

Sincerely,

Barbara