Surgery Recovery Tips!
I thought you might enjoy a list of most of the things I’m using as I recover from surgery, organized into categories of physical, mental-emotional, and spiritual. If you’ve got surgery coming up, and even if you don’t but you want to feel better, you may want to try some or all of these ideas, whichever of them resonate. I think the main thing to remember is to do what feels good to you and that will have the greatest benefit. I’m not prescribing anything with this post and remember to take responsibility for what you decide to use on yourself. And above all, get advice from medical professionals if you’re going to try something new!
It’s day 11 after surgery and all the steri-strips have come off. I got curious about what other people’s scars look like around this time, since I’ve had very little bruising and my swelling looks pretty good, confirmed by my PT, who has seen lots of post-op hip patients.
It was hard to find a comparable scar, and this one is blurry, but here is a photo comparison of our scars. I’d say I’m doing very well!
HERE’S THE LIST:
1) Do what the PT says. Studies show that patients who do their exercises several times a day, walk every hour, and ice regularly recover more quickly and with better strength and range of motion than those who don’t. Muscles are not going to turn themselves back on with magic, it takes intentionally activating them to have them respond. Visualizing the muscles working right helps, too.
2) Sleep. I’ve allowed myself to sleep as long and as often as my body wants to, while also setting an alarm for every four hours to take my pain medication. I sleep on the Samina sleep system with a grounding pad. I love my Samina bed and Claus and Denise Pummer are very knowledgeable about everything having to do with sleep. It’s a very expensive system, but to me it was a worthwhile way to spend my money, since I spend a third or more of my day in bed and don’t want to be sore from it.
3) Take the right amount of pain medication. I was originally on a schedule of two pills every six hours but had terrible pain. Two days after surgery I changed to one pill every four hours. It ends up being two fewer pills a day but because the interval is shorter my pain has been better regulated.
4) Hyperbaric chamber. See my prior post here. I’ve been getting in about 5 days a week. I think it has a lot to do with how little bruising I’ve had and how well my swelling is healing. Last week my PT told me it’s rare to see ankle bones so quickly after surgery. In fact, my ankle bones never fully disappeared.
5) TheraGun. See my prior post here. I can’t use it near the hip or the incision yet, but in my calf and down around my knee it has been wonderful for easing the pain of the swelling and increasing circulation to help reabsorb the stangnant fluids. I use it for 10-20 minutes every day.
6) Marc Pro Plus. This is an amazing electric stimulation machine that has a low frequency option that directly addresses recovery and the movement of fluids. I’m using it several days a week for 1-2 hours at a time on my quads, adductors, glutes and piriformis to help flush the leg.
7) Bio N’ Ice. This device uses a combination of ice therapy and LED light therapy to rejuvenate the skin. I’ve been using this on my face for a while. Now that the steri-strips have fallen off, I’ve started circling the incision with the green and the blue lights twice a day when I also treat my face.
8) Infrared Sauna. Once I’m cleared to use it again, I’ll be adding it back in. I have a Sauna Space because it’s easy to put up and take down and it’s compact.
9) High-quality all-natural skincare. I use skin care that’s safe enough to eat. There are two brands that I use: Annemarie Gianni and Alitura Naturals. I use Annemarie Gianni’s Coconut Body Oil in addition to her facial oils and serums. They’re made in small batches and are expensive, so I recommend ordering samples to try it out before committing to the entire line. Andy Hnilo, founder of Alitura Naturals, developed his skin care line after healing himself with minimal scarring from a devastating car accident using natural ingredients and superfoods. I’m using his night cream around (but not touching) the incision right now and will add in using the mask on my incision and thigh once I have permission from my doctor to put things directly on the skin of the incision.
10) Food. I’m not going to go too deeply into food because it’s such an individualized topic. What’s worked well for me has been bone broth and soup. When I didn’t feel like eating I could still usually tolerate bone broth with extra collagen added to it. I’ve also had superfood smoothies to nourish my body deeply while not challenging my digestion too much. When I do consume more solid foods my focus is organic vegetables and grass-fed meat. I loosely follow the Bulletproof Diet, including a high fat intake of healthy fats, and medium amounts of protein and low carbs. I cut out refined sugar before and after surgery due to its inflammatory effects. Every now and then I have a sweet treat, usually sweetened with stevia, coconut sugar, or raw honey.
11) Jing Herbs. A Chinese Medicine herbal company with terrific powdered herbs and formulas. I especially like their Pearl Powder, Awaken the Shen formula, and Coco Qi Latte. I combine the three with warmed unsweetened almond or coconut milk and a few drops of liquid stevia for a healing hot chocolate treat. I have other individual herbs of theirs that I add into smoothies when my stomach is feeling strong. Before going too deeply into Chinese herbs I suggest talking with a professional practitioner of Chinese Medicine to determine what herbs would be good for your specific constitution.
12) Supplements are another area I won’t wade too deeply into because of tremendous diversity of opinion on the topic of what’s best. I use TianChi (adaptogenic tonic), Coromega for Omega 3s, and Natural Calm magnesium powder, to name a few. I’ve heard proteolytic enzymes are great for healing from surgery but don’t have personal experience with them.
13) Rest and cuddle with someone if you can. Get a foot rub. Every day I try to counter messages of pain going to my brain with messages of pleasure and comfort so that I can remind myself that my body is also a source of pleasurable sensations.
1) Let it flow. When I’ve felt tears coming, I’ve let them come. I’ve let fear and frustration yell through my voice. Joy and laughter, too. Recognizing that they’re passing by, and that memories and emotions get released on numerous levels through a surgery like this, I’m giving myself permission to feel the range of feelings as they come.
2) Gratitude journal. If I know I going to be writing down 5-10 gratitudes a day, my mind starts looking for things to be grateful for so that I have something to write. This practice helps keep my mind from focusing on pain or suffering as much as it normally would. Studies have shown that having a gratitude practice creates more overall happiness over time.
3) Connection. It’s important. Make Skype and phone dates with friends. Stay connected and make sure you have help after surgery. If your primary caregiver burns out, ask more friends to help.
4) Visualize your desired outcome. Several times a day I picture myself moving with ease, walking down to the beach with my partner and our dog, or walking in New York, or having sex, or scuba diving, all activities that I enjoy and look forward to getting back to once I’m more mobile. Studies have show that picturing the desired outcome has a helpful effect toward having it. Our brains are that powerful, why not harness that power toward what we desire rather than what we fear? I’ve found it hard to haul my mind away from the pain when it spikes and fears get louder, but I use my tools to do it: Muse, prayer, visualization, texting with a friend. It’s on me, and no one else, to keep my head on straight and actively work toward health and well-being through the miraculous and transformative process that is total hip replacement surgery.
1) Meditate. I use Muse (see my prior post), the Headspace app, and also sit silently. The more time I spend with my mind focused on my breath or whatever the guided meditation instructions are on Headspace, the less time there is for my mind be destructive. This has my episodes of identification with the pain (that increase suffering) pass more quickly. I don’t ignore my pain, or how hard it is when it spikes, but I also don’t spin out into a story about why I have pain, or that it will never go away, or that I’m failing somehow because I have pain, all the ways the mind has to keep me feeling bad or small.
2) Stay prayed up. I listen to Our Daily Prayer Call, a prayer call in the style of affirmative prayer, run by Jason Mitchell, an Agape Licensed Spiritual Practitioner. There is a closed Facebook group you can request to join or you can request to be added to the email list. I also have friends who I pray with, and I pray on my own. Until I’m able to return to the Sunday service at Agape International Spiritual Center, I’m livestreaming it. I also listen to The Sound of Agape online radio when I want some uplifting music.
3) ThetaHealing®. I’m trained in ThetaHealing® and do Theta on myself but around this surgery I’ve been getting ThetaHealing® sessions from the amazing Alexis Ware, my teacher. Read more about Alexis and ThetaHealing® here. It has been very helpful to all aspects of preparing for and recovering from surgery and works on all levels—physical, mental-emotional, spiritual—from the spiritual plane. She also offers Human Design sessions, which are a great way to understand more about how you’re wired.
4) I also listen to Adyashanti Weekly: Moments of Grace, a weekly download from Sounds True of an informal talk by renowned teacher, Adyashanti. It helps keep my perspective on track.
5) Once I’m cleared to move my leg into more positions again, I will resume the practice of Orgasmic Meditation (OM). This practice works on physical, mental-emotional, and spiritual levels and combines the focus of meditation with the health benefits of the orgasm state for an increased sense of well-being.
I hope this list has been helpful. It has been fun trying out various tools and seeing what makes a difference, what makes me nauseated, and what doesn’t seem to do anything. In the meantime, it’s time to get up and walk around the room again!