If you are going to undergo cervical spine surgery, there are many things that you should consider in preparation before going to the hospital. These include equipment, your current home arrangements, transportation, and medication.
Arranging your home
Believe it or not, there are many easy things you can do in your home to make life much easier before you have the cervical spine surgery.
- Preparing or buying food before you go to the hospital is important. You may even want to get food catered or get a family member, friend, or caterer to drop off food for you
- If you plan on cooking, make sure that the items that you use such as ingredients, utensils, pots and pans are moved to the kitchen counter top or in a place that does not require bending
- Placing the telephone next on the bedside table or on a chair
- If you live alone, appoint a friend or family member to assist you in cleaning, shopping, and with other household chores.
- Put toiletries, clothes and shoes where you can easily reach them without the need to bend
- If you own rugs in your home, make sure that these are secured or put them in a cupboard so you will not trip over the rug
What equipment do you need?
Before having cervical spine surgery, you will need to be fitted for your neck collar (also known as a halo brace or neck brace). This neck brace is an essential part of the recovery process as it helps to keep your neck straight. Other medical equipment may also be recommended to you by your Doctor and Physical Therapist to assist in a speedy recovery. However, you need to make an inquiry with your medical insurer as to whether you are covered for the equipment as insurance plans vary from company to company. Some companies do cover durable medical equipment, in example a walker.
Your coordinator for home care and physical therapist will surely assist in ordering the equipment for you. They will also verify with your insurer as to whether you are covered for the items. This equipment must be ordered before you are discharged from the hospital, and they will deliver it to your home so you will need someone to accept this delivery when it arrives. The equipment that will typically be delivered to your home includes a long-handle reacher, walker, toilet seat extender, and a chair or bench that you can use in the shower or the bathtub.
This is a bit of a no-brainer. You will need to arrange your own transport to get home from the hospital as it isn’t legal to drive with a neck brace on. In addition, you should not drive until advised by your Doctor as driving requires many neck movements and moving the neck around will just aggravate the issue as it will not heal as well. When you are traveling home by car, make sure that you are either lying down in the back seat or in a reclining position at the front passenger seat.
Are you a smoker?
Are you a smoker and you have always wanted to quit? This is truly the perfect opportunity to quit as you need to stop smoking two weeks prior to surgery. After the surgery is completed, you will need to stop for an additional 6 weeks. The reason for this is that smoking actually interferes with the bone graft.
The night before surgery
During the night before your cervical spine surgery, you are not allowed to drink or eat after midnight. If you are schedule for a morning surgery, you must not eat any solid food after 9 pm, or drink liquids (including water) after midnight. If you permanently wear any rings such as a wedding ring, you must remove it. This is because your fingers may be swollen later.
What to bring to the hospital?
You may want to bring your own clothes and toiletries to the hospital, especially if you are not being discharged straight after surgery. Pack your underwear, loose and comfortable pajamas, a robe, and slippers. Please do not bring any valuables as they may be stolen. If you need to bring any equipment such as a walker or long-handle reacher, ask the person who is driving you back home to bring it for you. Make sure the equipment is labeled, as someone may mistakenly identify it as theirs.