Suggestions Please for home after surgery

I hope some of you lovely people may have some tips on preparing for living alone while recuperating from surgery. First, the situation is my friend, age 73, who has had breast cancer, then developed COPD with increasingly severe breathlessness, and now is found to need her aortic valve replaced. Surgery is scheduled next week. It will be a new minimally invasive surgery called TAVR, done under conscious sedation. The recovery period is much easier than with open heart surgery; the problem being that she will be dismissed home after only 2 nights in the hospital, and on her own, as her adult children are fairly useless. She has a medical alarm system for emergencies, neighbors will look in a couple of times a day, I plan to do tidying up and organize meals, but I feel we could do more to arrange things so that what she needs is at hand or easy to get. If you have coped alone at home after surgery, what might have helped you most? (I was laid up after foot surgery a few years back and confined to the ground floor, frustrated that I couldn't successfully explain what clothing I wanted to my husband - it is things like that I'm trying to anticipate.) She will have a shower chair. The walker she already uses to get around with has a basket to carry things. She will have television and laptop to distract; don't know if puzzles and books are enjoyable at this stage. Any suggestions from your experience will be much appreciated.

Nancy

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  • I just want to say what a lovely caring person you are Nancy. Others may be able to give good advice but l think you have most things covered. Being there for your friend is what matters so l hope all goes well for her. Xxxx

  • Thank you so much for your good wishes.

    Nancy

  • Hello after my stay in hospital I had care s for 8 weeks arranged by the hospital So that's probably what your friend will be offered

    Take care

    Dorothy

  • Thanks for your reply. Would that that were true for my friend. Even though this surgery is quite major, and she is likely to die soon if she goes untreated, the aftercare protocols, that are set up by Medicare, I assume, are for minor surgery. Now if she has complications she no doubt will be sent to a nursing home for a time, but the medical team explicitly states that they don't expect to do this, and of course we certainly don't want complications. She is to see the nurse practicioner after 1 week and the surgeon after two weeks. No home care or visiting nurse is offered. I have emphasized to them that she lives alone without family support, and hope at some point this information trips the systems into place for more aftercare. No sign yet, though.

    Best. Nancy

  • It seems inhumane to send somebody home two days after surgery, especially when they are living on their own. But it's like that in most hospitals these days. When my sister, who was then living on her own, had surgery in 2012, she did batch cooking of some basic chicken and fish dishes beforehand and froze them, so that she had a stock of nourishing meals available, needing only to be defrosted and stuck in the microwave.

    It sounds like you've thought of everything already Nancy and your friend is very lucky to have you in her corner.

    How will your friend feel a out being on her own at night ? This was something I did for my sister - stayed with her at night - for the first week until she was well back on her feet.

    How mobile will she be ? Would a wheelchair ( on a temporary basis) be useful for the first few days ?

    I really can't think of anything else, just to wish her well with the surgery and wish you well in helping to look after her.

  • Hi, Billie-Jean. Thanks for your suggestions. Every piece of information helps. They told us they expect patients to leave the hospital at the same functional level as they went in- which in her case is not very good - some people feel the benefit of the surgery right away but some only gradually. I am concerned about the nights alone, and brought that up hoping the situation would get translated into a longer hospital and/or nursing home stay. I think they try to minimize exposure to these settings because of infection risk-very dangerous for new valves, so probably in her best interest overall. I can't easily spend nights away because I need my big oxygen concentrator plus nebulizer, etc., so we will have to set things up as comfortably as we can and encourage her to call if the nights get tough. Thanks again for your reply.

    Nancy

  • I didn't realise you were on O2 Nancy, in which case staying the night would cause you too much upheaval and probably exhaustion. You are being a true friend here but be careful that you don't overdo things to the point that you feel ill yourself.

    And maybe a call to the useless adult children would be an idea. They should be. encouraged/ gently reminded that their mum is going to need a lot of help.

  • Has she spoken to hospital social workers? I would get her to speak to them. She may find that when she is actually in hospital then aftercare services may be looked at, specially as she has other underlying conditions. Hopefully her breathing may well improve considerably with the new valve as leaky valves when severe/chronic make you very breathless. Sadly much depends on where you live nowadays. Does she have a good GP she can contact?. I have been assessed for TAVR but none suitable for me at moment, but it is not invasive and is sort of shunted in via an artery, so she should start to feel much better very quickly, not that that helps when she first gets home. Hope she does get some support.

  • Hi nancye can't really add anything to the already good suggestions given to you by some good people on here. You seem to have everything in hand and thought about most of the things that are needed.

    Considering you are not in the best of health yourself I think you are doing an excellent job in looking after your friend and she's lucky to have you watching out for her.

    I hope your friends surgery is a success and her recovery is without any problems.

    I wish both all the best.

    Regards. John

  • Thank you very much for your good thoughts. We are praying that this procedure goes smoothly and makes her feel better.

    Nancy

  • Daft suggestion, thermos flasks for hot drinks are always useful!

  • Hi, and a very good suggestion. She is an all day coffee drinker so a couple of thermos cups will make it easier. Thanks! Nancy

  • Great suggestions given Nancy. Perhaps a commode if she has no downstairs loo. Oh also a quick dial phone for important telephone nos. most phones have the capability now. So say your number will be under one, neighbour under two etc etc.

    Give her all our very best.

    Regards JP

    Nb have a word with the social workers it seems grossly unfair that she has to cope by herself during the evenings.

  • JP, you have brought up a good point. I think her phone can be set for voice command. I just need to program in the numbers and show her what to do. Bathroom and toilet are close between her bed and chair so that should be ok. I hope very much that the hospital sends in the social worker but I fear it's the doctor who requests that, and the pre op people were noncommittal at best. I will keep asking - because it seems to me she needs home health services.

    Thanks for your good ideas.

    Nancy

  • Just coming home 4 days ago from my almost week hospital stay after surgery, I can say their was a few things I didn't think about.

    As others said, I hope your friend is sleeping downstairs. My bedroom is upstairs, and I now wish I had done up my extra downstairs bedroom.

    I've been alone during the day, and my husband doesn't arrive home until 7pm. So I will just name some things you've maybe already thought about.

    Medications; having them picked up from pharmacy and organized in a day to day container was something I had to do AFTER I was home. I should have planned better.

    Meals; As much as I thought I was prepared, I was grabbing easy things

    Yogurt, cereal, sandwiches, bottles of water/ drinks ect..

    Air; I had to pull out some fans. I was hot and feeling smothered up. I needed blowing air!

    Things to read; TV gets annoying also I've enjoyed music :)

    Notepad; I had to many things to write down, people to call, appointments to make.

    Just easy to reach things really helps. Bathroom stocked with supplies..

    She will need help with cleaning up maybe? My hair washing was an issue. So maybe plan on that a few times?

    Just try keeping stress away.. Maybe fresh flowers 🌷

    Good luck, it's wonderful she has someone like you caring so much for her! She is in good hands 🙏🏼

    Stay Blessed,

    Amy 🌷

  • Thank you for your sweet and thoughtful reply, Amy. Just the kind of information I wanted. I have some dry shampoo I bought for my husband (no idea if it works) that I will take over and make sure her pills are loaded up. Has anything been out of reach that you didn't think of beforehand?

    Thanks so much, Nancy

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