So You Need Surgery – Preparing Your Home

What Do You Need?

Every time I have had surgery my needs were slightly different, and they depended largely on both my circumstances and the terms of my recovery. Will someone be with me or will I be alone? Did I live in a house with stairs, or an apartment with an elevator? I have never been lucky enough to have an elevator when I needed it. Would I be walking afterwards, or on crutches or in a wheelchair? These are all questions I would ask myself before I planned what I needed.

When I had my hip replacement, it was so standard, they gave me a pamphlet. This was great, everything to expect, all outlined for me! Until I met with my surgeon, and he told me I was an exception to just about everything. Back to the drawing board.

I usually start with the basics. Eating, sleeping, bathing and eliminating. I need to understand how each of these will be accomplished and make appropriate arrangements. Let’s take them one at a time.


Will you be alone all day? If so, consider a cooler and a thermos. When I was stuck alone all day on crutches, I could fill a thermos with coffee every morning and tuck it in a backpack. I would make a sandwich and a couple of snacks, grab a bottle of water, and pack it all up, sling it on my back and head for the couch. Like a picnic without the ants or the fresh air.

For the first 2 weeks, when I was in pain, John would pack it all up and when I made my way to the couch in the morning, it would be waiting on the coffee table for me. It was awesome! Before I went into the hospital, I stocked up on my favorite, easy foods so that he would have everything handy. I even left a little list of what I liked for breakfast and lunch, so he didn’t have to guess. Pain killers make me picky.


Are you going to share a bed? Are you sleeping on the couch? Does your partner need to relocate? Do you? Do you need to sleep with special equipment? When I had my knee surgery, we had a double bed, so John slept on the futon. I had so many pillows, he would fall out if he tried to sleep with me. Besides, he said he never slept because he was afraid to hurt me. By the time I had my hip surgeries, we had upgraded to a king, so things were better. We still used my old body pillow in between us so he didn’t worry about kicking me though.


I don’t know what to say about this one. I’ve never found a truly satisfactory solution to bathing. I usually use my coffee thermos to transport hot water to a bowl for a sponge bath, and count the days until I can shower. Once, I covered myself in a garbage bag and washed my hair in the backyard with the garden hose because I couldn’t stand it anymore. If you have someone who can help you with this, you are blessed, otherwise, stock up on cheap washcloths and plastic dishpan and make do as long as you can.


I won’t say a lot about this one, except to recommend a raised toilet seat for anyone who will have trouble sitting or standing. And make sure you talk to your doctor about stool softeners if you are on pain medication. ‘Nuff said.

A little forethought and planning will go a long way to making your recuperation more manageable, so start your list.


Read the previous post in this series: So You Need Surgery – Preparing Yourself
Read the next post in this series: So You Need Surgery – Preparing Your Family and Friends