Monday, September 21, 2020

Preparing for hand or wrist surgery

Every time I prepare for hand surgery, I go online to look for tips and am always surprised by how few I can find. Since I've now gone through several and am still in the recovery process of wrist fusion surgery, I decided that I should be the one to create the list of things everyone needs to know when preparing for hand or wrist surgery.

Before Surgery

Your surgeon has likely called in prescriptions for you. Don't forget to get those filled before surgery. Since this is a painful surgery, one of those prescriptions will likely be something for pain. The surgery staff will tell you to stay ahead of the the pain, but they probably won't tell you to stay ahead of the poop. When you're getting you're prescriptions filled, do yourself a favor and buy the following:

  1. Colace
  2. Senecot
  3. Miralax
  4. Prunes
  5. Apple Juice
  6. Other foods high in fiber
Do not wait until you're constipated before you start thinking about this. Get ahead of it. It is just as important as staying on top of the pain.

On the day of surgery, wear your comfiest clothes. My surgeon suggested elastic waist pants and a short-sleeve, button down top. Since this was not my first rodeo, I knew that I would likely be in these clothes for a couple of days, so I wore my pj's to the surgery center. Sure, I was the only person there in my pajamas, but they were super cute, comfortable and were exactly what the doctor called for. When you come home from the surgery center, you can just crawl right into bed without thinking about changing into something more comfortable.


Hopefully, you will have someone at home helping you. at least for the first few days. When they bring meals to you, ask them to bring you meals on plastic dishes. That will be lighter and easier for you to manage. If you're having surgery on your dominant hand, you may want to have your food cut into bite sized pieces for you. I also found it much easier to eat with a spoon rather than a fork. As much as I love sushi, I cannot use chopsticks with my left hand, so I make sushi a finger food now. 

For the bath

I have tried the fancy arm covers that you can get from Amazon and I find them so difficult to use that it's just not worth it to me. The best way that I have found to cover my dressing is with umbrella bags or bread bags. They are both very sturdy and usually a nice size to put over the arm. Tape it up and get in the shower. Just remember to hold your arm up so that water doesn't get into the bag.

I love using body wash and shower gel but post surgery, simplicity is key. I find that a bar of soap is easier to manage post surgery. Shampoo and conditioner is easiest to manage when you buy the bottles that come with a pump.

I also keep baby wipes so if I want a shower but don't really have the energy for a shower, I just have a little bird bath. I'm not going anywhere, so if I miss a day it's not a big deal. 

You'll want a good electric toothbrush if you're having surgery on your dominant hand, since surgery will make brushing your teeth very difficult. You'd be surprised by how hard it is to brush your teeth with the wrong hand.


Since I have chronic health conditions, I have multiple medicines that I have to take daily.  I was surprised that I could open medications that were in child-proof containers, as long as they were in the regular sized bottles. Of course, I had to put the top of the bottle in my mouth and twisted with my left hand. I needed help opening the larger bottles. One of my prescriptions is dosed at 1.5 pills daily, and I can't break that pill in half, so my husband has to do that for me. 

Finally, I want to mention that it's taken me this long to remember that after every surgery I've had, I have a period of depression. I'm assuming that must be normal. I think part of it is the grief of psoriatic arthritis and the realization that my life won't be exactly like I planned it, but part of it must be from the isolation and the medication. Have you experienced that? I'll share my experience with this soon.

I'm sure that many of you have post surgical tips, so please share them in the comments. 

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