Although you're very likely to significantly benefit from knee replacement surgery, getting through the recovery period when you live by yourself can be challenging. As with anything, planning can help you get through. Devise a well-thought-out plan that will cover your day-to-day living, encompassing the many ways in which you will need to adapt during the healing process:
1. Give Yourself The Time You Need For Recovery
Although actual recovery time varies between individuals and according to different circumstances, your recovery will go much smoother if you curb your enthusiasm for strenuous activity and avoid any activity that may impede healing. This means taking enough time off from work if you are currently employed and doing as much work around the house ahead of time (before your operation) as you can.
2. Be Prepared With Ice Packs
Since swelling may be an after-effect of knee surgery, you're probably going to be applying ice to the affected area on a regular basis. This means having multiple ice packs available so that you will always have a completely frozen pack to apply. Ask your doctor, too, if you can substitute ice packs with bags of frozen veggies, which can be more comfortable, depending on the size and shape of your knee. Since the application of ice will be frequent, you'll also need towels; place a good supply of them near where you're most likely to be resting or right by the freezer, whichever is more convenient.
3. Ask Your Doctor About Sanitizer And Hand-Washing
Because your hands will be coming in contact with areas near your surgical incision, your hands must always be clean and germ-free. Ask your doctor if frequent hand-washing with an antibacterial soap is best, or if it's good to simply dab some sanitizing hand lotion on and eliminate germs that way. Whichever method works best for you, don't slack off on keeping your hands completely clean, as an infection could develop. Know the causes and symptoms of infection so you're in the best position to avoid the situation.
4. Talk To A Neighbor Or Your Landlord, Or Ask Your Doctor About A Helpful Contact
Even the most fiercely independent person needs a contact person under these circumstances, so make sure you keep the number of a neighbor or someone else close by handy. If there's nobody near you, ask your physician about someone from a public health or human services department that could serve as a temporary liaison between you and the outside world, if needed. You might also be eligible for in-home physical therapy and more, including a little help around the house if needed, if your insurance covers it. Find these things out, just in case you need them. If you have a pet, consider having someone watch them at their house, if possible, so you aren't threatened by the possibility of tripping over them or burdened by the need to take them out for walks. If the pet will remain with you, exercise caution and keep your own healing a priority, even if the animal is usually an attention-getter.
5. Stay In Touch With Your Medical Team
Not only do you need to follow all the instructions given to you following your surgery, but it's also vital that you keep in contact with your doctor, especially if anything unusual happens. Call them if you have any questions, too, and be sure to keep your follow-up appointments so they can verify that you're healing on schedule.
Replacement knee surgery is difficult enough to recover from when you have help around the house, but being on your own makes it that much harder. Prepare your home, life and body as much as you can, get any help that may be available to you and keep a positive attitude going forward, which can keep your energy levels up, boost your immune system and even speed up your recovery.
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