Confident home cooking

Tips on Preparing for Surgery

by Nick

I’m having surgery tomorrow to fix up my knee after tearing my ACL playing basketball a few weeks ago.

The surgery is a very standard one and relatively quick.  That said, I have of course been researching like crazy to make sure I’m as ready as I can be for it.

I thought it might be helpful for me to lay out some of the preparation tips I’ve learned in a post although hopefully you never have to use them!

The Prior Weeks

I spent a lot of time researching (and doing) things over the last three weeks that will hopefully make my post-operation a bit easier.

Here’s a few tips that I would recommend.  Some of these tips apply pretty specifically to joint or bone surgeries.

Put Meat on the Bone - At first, I thought that I should take it easy until my surgery, but I quickly learned that the opposite is true.  It’s a good idea to exercise as much as you physically can without injuring yourself more before the surgery.

The goal is to build or maintain as much muscle as possible since you won’t be able to use those muscles much after the surgery.  A stronger body will make for an easier recovery after surgery.

For me, this meant hours and hours on the stationery bike which is the only real exercise I can do.

Get Used to Physical Therapy - Ask your doctor what exercises you can do before therapy.  These might be the same as you will be doing after surgery.  They might also be very easy.  Do them every day anyway.  They won’t be easy after the surgery and it’s a good idea to get your body used to the motions.

Don’t skip physical therapy for anything.  Personally, I know that it hurts a bit, but I feel better immediately after it’s done.

Ask Around - Unless you are having a complex or rare surgery, it’s almost guaranteed that you know someone who knows someone who has had the same surgery.  At a minimum, you can always ask Dr. Google.  Find someone who has had the same surgery and pick their brain for tips.

Clean the House - Before you go in for surgery, clean your house and make sure you have clean clothes ready.  You’ll be too tired to clean for a while after surgery and you won’t want to be sitting in filth for days.

Have a Meal Plan - Maybe you’ll order take-out every day.  Maybe someone will be nice enough to cook for you.  No matter what, make sure you have some sort of meal plan in place.

For me, I’ve been making and freezing a lot of different meals that should feed me and Betsy for at least a week.  I made four great frozen meals and I’ll be posting all of them next week actually!

The Day Before

The day before surgery is pretty straightforward.  Your doctor will tell you everything you need to know.

It seems like the important things are to make sure that you don’t eat and drink for 12 hours before the surgery and that you have someone to pick you up from the surgery!

It’s also a good idea to make sure you have any equipment you’ll need right after surgery.  For me, this is crutches, leg braces, and lots of ice!

The Big Day

As long as you’ve done everything up to this point, there isn’t much to do on the day of surgery.

For me, my main goal is to not cause a self-induced panic attack!

What to Eat?

I thought a lot about what to eat the day before surgery.

It seems like, in general, a low fiber diet is recommended on the day before surgery.  A lot of the diets I researched were not actually nutritionally complete diets.  In other words, they are diets that are specifically intended to only be eaten for a day or so to make surgery easier.

A few tips:

Keep Dairy Limited - Don’t eat a lot of dairy before surgery.  This includes cheese, milk, and yogurts.  A cup or two is fine, but don’t go crazy.

The Right Proteins - Proteins are good and needed for your body to heal, but don’t eat any proteins that will be tough to digest.  Stay away from tough cuts of meat or legumes.  Go with soy protein, egg whites, or lean cuts of meat.

Avoid Whole Wheats - This is pretty much the only time that I’ve read to choose white breads over wheat breads, but wheat breads have way more fiber and will take longer to digest.

Avoid Raw Fruits and Veggies - Again, they just are harder to digest.  Go with cooked veggies (steamed things are good) and fruit juices.

Share Your Tips!

If you’ve had surgery or helped someone with a surgery, I’d love for you to share any tips you might have in the comments section.