Pre-Surgery Tips

My mother had rotator cuff surgery two times. Many of these suggestions will also work well for shoulder replacement, mastectomy / breast cancer or other surgeries that will limit the use of your arms. Below are some tips and suggestions that I have come up with from my motherís own shoulder surgery, as well as suggestions from our customers. These are some things that we (and some of our customers) discovered doing or having available that were helpful before surgery.

1.  Of course we recommend Shoulder Shirts for your tops, sleepwear and outerwear. 

2.  Be sure you have a good fitting pair of slip on shoes. (Do not wear flip flops as they can cause you to fall.) An old fashioned shoe horn with a handle is also helpful in getting the back of you shoe on.  One of my customers recommended Kizik shoes as they can be slipped on and the back (heel) will pop itself up for you. I haven't tried them but they might be an option here.

3.  If you want to wear your jeans, try using a rubber band threaded through the button hole and wrap the other end over the button. However, elastic waistband pants work best after surgery. Many people find that the slicker fabric from athletic pants (running pants) are easiest to get up and down. Comfy sweat pants are always an alternative too. Be sure to have a couple of pair before your surgery. 

4.  We do offer one-shoulder reversible sports bras and camisoles.  Or you can try using elastic tube tops in place of a bra when you need to go out. They won't give you a lot of support, but they do give you some coverage, especially during physical therapy 

5.  You should have meals and nutritious snacks easily available. Be sure that the containers your meals are in are easy to open with one hand. We found glass containers with snap lids at Costco that worked well. If you have packaged snacks (i.e. granola or protein bars, have a pair of scissors available to snip off the end of the package. Practice using the scissors prior to surgery if it is your dominant arm that will be immobile.) 

6.  Be sure to have pump shampoos and soaps in your bathroom. Full tubes of toothpaste are easier to squeeze out. Be sure to have some disposable baby wipes available too. Roll on deodorant was easiest for my mother to use. 

7.  Be sure to ask for your medication in easy open tops. Child proof containers are impossible to open. Get a pill box for the first week to keep track of pain medication and have easy access. Many of the ďdollarĒ stores carry them. 

8.  Be sure to have a plump pillow near the chair you plan to stay on. A bedrest pillow; the kind that you can sit up on, is very helpful to have. You are able to rest your arm on the side. The TV remote should be near as well as an easy-to-follow book. Plan to do pretty much nothing the first couple of days. Take it easy!! 

9.  Be sure to have a couple of bags of frozen peas in the freezer to use as ice packs. You will want to have one freezing while you are using the other bag. 

10.  Buy hygiene items-on-a-stick. Loofah-on-a-stick, sponge-on-a-stick, and a flat surface sponge-on-a-stick. (You can also make these ahead of time.) They are great for personal hygiene, cleaning and applying lotions. A long back scratcher is also a life saver as well as a long handled pincher picker-upper. (Like you see people picking up trash with.) 

11.  Invest in an electric toothbrush and practice using it before your surgery so you donít have toothpaste all over your face. Be sure that your toothpaste is a full tube so it is easier to get it out.

12.  Be sure that you have a non-slip mat or stickers on your shower or tub so you donít slip. Also, be sure that any rug or towel outside your tub is non stick so it doesnít slide out from under you as you step out of the shower. Your equilibrium will be off during this time. 

13.  Use short socks or no show socks. Longer socks are almost impossible to get on. They also make socks with non-skid soles that are great. Be sure to have slip-on shoes and donít wear flip flops as they can cause you to fall. A shoe horn with a long handle is also useful. 

14.  You can use a poncho or rain poncho to pull over your head and cover your sling when going outside in the rain or winter weather.

15.  If you have one, plan to sleep in a recliner for the first few days. It is more comfortable then trying to get in and out of a bed. . Or one of our customers said she used a zero gravity chair.

16.  If you have someone available, you may need them to help get you out of the bed at night. If they are sleeping in another room, try getting a metal pan and wooden spoon. Trust me, they will hear it if you need them.

17.  Put together a basket of goodies to keep close at hand with hand lotion, chap stick, iPod, books, tissues, hard candy, chocolate and pain meds (all the essentials of life). Also have a water bottle with a flip-top lid (it is too hard to get the pull up tops open). You will also want the TV remote and your phone (or iPad if you have one) close by.

18.  Get your hair cut right before your surgery. Practice combing and drying your hair with your good arm/hand and not using your surgery arm before your go into surgery. You might want to have a hat available as many people canít do much with their hair the first week or so. You are also going to have some time right after surgery when you canít take a bath/shower and a hat is great during that time.

19.  If you have pets, you should try to make arrangements for someone else to take care of them right after surgery. If they are housepets and are quick and tend to be underfoot, you might want to see if someone else can keep them for the first week or so. You donít want to trip on them and hurt either them or you.

20.  Keep a pen and paper by your pain meds to keep track of when you take them. You may want someone else to do this the first couple of days if you are on pain medication.

21.  Get night lights for where you are sleeping and the bathroom. You will be up and down and it is easier to get around and see at night with the night lights.

22.  Keep your cell phone with you to call people for help if they are out of hearing range, especially if you are sleeping in a recliner.

23.  If your toilet paper holder is inconvenient to reach, try investing in a free standing toilet paper holder that can be put in front of the toilet and make it easier to reach the toilet paper. You can find inexpensive ones at Walmart, Ross, TJMaxx and other discount stores. Some even have storage for extra rolls of toilet paper.

24.  Remember to place your keys, wallet, cell phone in your pants pocket on the side of your good arm. You may not be able to get these items if they are in the wrong pocket.

25.  Place items you regularly use around your home at arm level so you donít have to reach up or bend down.

26.  Get some of those fuzzy seat belt covers. Even as a passenger, my mom had a hard time with the seat belt and these helped immensely.

27.  If you plan on shaving, you might want to invest in an electric razor. Using shaving cream is next to impossible.

28.  Practice cutting your food with your good hand if you are having surgery on your dominant shoulder. Have easy to cut food in your menu plan. You may want to plan out a menu prior to your surgery that consists of some of you favorite soft or easy to cut foods.

29.  Go grocery shopping before your surgery and remember that you will need foods that are nutritious, easy to eat and donít require heavy duty cutting.

30.  You might want to invest in an electric can opener if you normally use a hand can opener and live alone. You may not be able to use the hand can opener for weeks/months after your surgery.

31.  If your favorite brand of shampoo or conditioner doesnít come in a pump, buy a pump bottle of hand soap and put the soap in a jar so you can rinse it out and put your shampoo or conditioner in the pump bottle.

32.  If you have orthotics in your shoes and canít wear slip-on shoes, there are some adaptive shoe laces that work great and allow you to slip on lace up shoes easily. I have used Hickies and you can find them on their website ( Ė many times they have coupons for discounts or additional sets) or on Amazon.

33.  You might want to invest in a hand held shower head as it is extremely helpful (for both you or if you have someone assisting you). That way you can aim the water where you need it. It is also nice for cleaning your shower after you have recovered. A shower chair can also be handy right after surgery.

34.  One of our customers told me that before you stand up from the toilet, pull your pants up to (or above) your knees. This eliminates your having to bend over to pull up your pants and losing your balance.

35.  Nylon underwear is the easiest to get up and down.  Cotton underwear tends to stick to your clothing and pants and can be difficult to pull up with one hand. Also getting a size larger than your normal size make it easier to pull them up.

36.  Micro bead pillows are helpful because there are no pressure points with them. 

37.  If you don't have help showering, an inexpensive sling in the shower may help keep from moving your arm too much. Be sure to follow your doctorís recommendation on showering. 

38.  There are blue tooth light bulbs that have a remote that controls the light. Keep the remote with you so you can turn the light on and off at night.

39.  When eating meals with one hand, put a 5 inch square of rubbery shelf liner under the plate to keep it from moving away from you while you attempt to get food on a fork or spoon.