I had a bunionectomy and prepared my home for my recovery from a hurt foot like it was my job. I had about two weeks to really get ready for my foot surgery, so I was able to prepare a lot, knowing that the best recovery comes from being completely horizontal for 2 full weeks post-op, and then non-weight bearing on one foot for 8-10 more weeks. Here are some things I did to organize my home for my hurt foot. And if your curious what I think some thoughtful gifts might be for a friend having any type of surgery, keep reading to the end.
By the way, it’s true that I started from an organized home and had some help after surgery, but for folks who live in a very cluttered environment or who can’t count on having daily help at home, this could be a real challenge and possibly even a health hazard. If you have a friend in this situation, just a 15 minute daily stop at their place could be a real help to them, to carry things upstairs or even just carry their dinner over to the table or load the dishwasher.
You might think that the biggest questions of the day would be:
- How will I close the lowest kitchen drawers if I can’t kick them shut?
- Can you get half a pedicure, and if so, is it half price?
- Will you qualify for a handicap parking pass?
- Is it worth it to shave just one leg?
- How many calories do you burn by doing nothing on the couch all day? (About 1300, so go easy on the cookies if you don’t want to gain weight.)
- What about wine? (No? That’s just me?)
But no. There are lots of things that will be important once you are marooned on the couch, and most of them can be had from Amazon. I’ve put together an Amazon Prepare for Bunion Surgery List, and you are welcome to click and buy what you don’t already have. As always, this post contains affiliate links, but doesn’t change the fact that I found all of these items helpful for my recovery, or learned from others who found them helpful.
First things first. Order the knee scooter. I bought mine on Amazon, which was going to be cheaper than renting, and I can resell it when I’m done with it. Crutches are pretty hard to use and don’t allow the use of your hands to carry chips back to the couch. The knee scooter made everything easier. Do this the SECOND you know you are having surgery.
Second, because it will take some time, ask your doctor to sign off on an application for a handicap parking placard if you have that option in your state. Here is the link to apply for a temporary handicap placard in Pennsylvania. Mine took over 5 weeks to process. Wouldn’t you think they’d fast-track those?
Dry shampoo. Life changing. I was over the moon when I found this stuff, unscented. It really works!
Ordered a hands-free crutch. I thought it was going to be awesome when I got off the couch, but I was not a fan. I have one for sale, cheap.
Moved two weeks worth of comfy clothing to the first floor coat closet. The kids’ extra winter coats got relocated to their closets, and no one said a thing. I could have made do with one week’s worth of clothes. Who am I planning to impress on the couch?
Figured out how not to bathe (use baby wipes).
Figured out how to bathe. (Picnic cooler set in bathtub to sit on, kitchen stool outside the tub to facilitate getting in and out, watertight cast cover, and hand-held shower.) Seriously, if you’ve been thinking about changing out your shower head, now is the time to do it. You don’t even need any tools for most shower head upgrades. By the way, if you already own or come across a cute shower chair that you’ll use later, go for it. I was pleased that my Coleman picnic cooler did the job just as well.
For safety in the bathroom, if you don’t already have them, consider adding these safety grab bars.
Stocked up on sturdy paper plates and cups.Turns out I didn’t really need them, but would have if I were living alone.
Moved everything a LOT closer to where it’s needed. An extra broom in the bathroom instead of in the closet down the hall. A box of tissues in every room. All of the remote controls and computer chargers handy by my nest.
Speaking of remotes, I put the Christmas tree on a remote control for about $10, also one of my favorite things.
Wrapped Christmas presents before surgery. (Did I mention this was happening 5 days before Christmas?)
Rearranged furniture and rugs so they didn’t trip up my crutches and scooter.
Turned my living room couch on the first floor into my bed/nest.
Gathered every. Single. Pillow. in the house within arm’s reach of my nest. Some people find a body pillow helpful.
Pulled out our sleeping bags, which are rolled up in their own bags, for the nearly perfect leg prop.
Pulled out the memory foam contour pillow that I’ve never really loved for a pillow, but it worked great as a leg prop and stabilizer.
Got a wheeled bedside laptop table from Hayneedle. (sponsored) It is nice enough to keep in the living room for now, but it will be super useful when I move it to the bedroom.
Got a mirrored cosmetic caddy, also from Hayneedle. (sponsored) This turned out to be one of my favorite things! Set up a bedside primping station. Moved everything from my over-the-sink medicine cabinet to my nest, and I was able to get through my morning routine in comfort.
Wanted to get an IKEA Raskog cart, but they’ve stopped selling them in the store in turquoise!!!! Can you believe that they are selling for over $100 on eBay? But, you can actually get it on Amazon, and I’ve added it to the list.
Cleaned my office. Wasn’t able to do this when I was down, even though my office was only about 10 feet away from my nest. It was just too much work!
Put a footstool near my favorite chair in every room in the house. This cannot be underrated.
Got menus from my favorite local restaurants. I thought we’d order in a lot, but that didn’t actually happen, thanks to my slow cooker.
I also did a pre-op big shop at the grocery store, where I stocked up on Amy’s frozen dinners. These are the best. (Yes I completely realize that the link for Amy’s frozen dinners gives you 12 enchilada dinners, but that’s just the starting point for you in Amazon. Also, you might need the extra beans after surgery and constipating pain drugs.)
Figured out how to use Instacart (or whatever your local grocery delivery service is). I only used it once, but it was a nice option.
Made sure I had cups with lids for both cold drinks and for hot drinks, so I could transport them easily without spills.
Went through the kids’ closets and made sure they had enough clothes that fit and knew how to get to everything. My oldest still grew out of all her pants during this 6 weeks. It figures!
The kind nurse at the hospital gave me a couple of ice packs at the hospital, but you should definitely buy ice packs with ties like this to tie to the back of your knee. Icing is super effective for this surgery, but it’s hard to know where to ice when your foot is all bandaged or in a cast.
I put a spiral notebook by my bedside to mark down what meds I took and when I took them. Nothing fancy, I just wrote down line by line, what I took and when.
I hung tote bags over doorknobs around the house, which helped me carry things from one room to another. My scooter basket helped, as well.
Speaking of meds, I started taking turmeric and bromelain supplements immediately after surgery, with my doctor’s approval. I also took one melatonin pill (5mg) at night when needed because my sleep schedule was all off. All meds and supplements should be discussed and approved by your doctor. But you don’t need their approval to start snacking on prunes immediately after your surgery to counteract the constipating effect of narcotic painkillers.
Feeling optimistic, I also grabbed some Vitamin E Oil to rub into and reduce my scar once my foot is out of the cast. A bottle for upstairs and one for downstairs is a good idea.
Set up my bucket list of things I never have time to do:
- Publish my second book.
- Work on my own photo organizing a bit more. Or maybe a lot more.
- Take an online language course.
- Spend extra time training my employees.
- Listen to 2 years of conference recordings.
- Learn a complicated software that I’ve been putting off.
I also did a ton of reading and found a great Facebook Group called I Survived a Bunionectomy, which is where I got a lot of these great tips and had a few laughs during recovery.
Other things you should definitely do after your bunionectomy…
Keep your post-op instructions from the hospital and your surgeon’s phone number within arm’s reach, in case of emergency.
Plan on having your companion who drives you home from surgery stop on the way home to get your pain medicine prescription filled, or take care of that pre-op if your doctor will give you the script.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. For at least a few days, and maybe a few weeks, you’ll want to let others help you with meals and household duties. You need to stay off your feet in order to let them heal properly. Plenty of folks need revision surgery after bunioneictomies because they don’t take care of themselves, damaging the repair, and you just don’t want to go through that if you don’t have to. You will get no extra points for keeping your house clean if you damage yourself.
I had the blessing of a little notice and preparation time, but if you have an accident, you aren’t going to have that. But now you have this list to help you and someone at home make these modifications when you return home. And remember, if you don’t have help at home, or your family is busy, travels, or you are otherwise floundering, contact a NAPO professional organizer, who would be happy to help you set up your home to work during your recovery.
With my scooter, I was pretty much able to do everything I needed to do on the first floor, except load the dishwasher. To get an idea of how hard loading the dishwasher is post-op, go stand in front of your dishwasher, stand on one leg, and try to open the door. Chances are, you will instinctively want to step back, which you can’t do on one leg. Now stand to the side of the dishwasher, on one leg, and turn backwards, which is where my scooter put me. Now, stand to the side of the dishwasher, on one leg, turn backwards, and stand on a skateboard. There, you’ve just about got it. I looked just like this gal below, except with dishes in my hand and one leg in a cast. So…your friend might need a little help around the house.
Having been through this, I’ve zeroed in on a few really thoughtful gifts for any friend who is confined at home after surgery.
Post-op gift idea #1: Mirrored cosmetic caddy. This was just really useful when I wasn’t able to stand at the bathroom sink to get ready for my day. That with a bottle of Vitamin E Oil or scar reducing cream would be super thoughtful.
Post-op gift idea #2: Tea, a candle and fuzzy socks. My friend, Joann, has a gift for gifting. She brought me a beautiful Paris-themed box (because she knows me so well), along with some yummy tea, which is important for hydration. And the candle was nice because, well, I wasn’t showering every day. Socks…because it’s all about the feet right now.
Post-op gift idea #3: Therapy pet visit. Joann also played along and brought her cats over for the evening, which was SO MUCH FUN! For a shut in, having a brief visit with a pet can make your tail wag, for sure. Even if you don’t bring a pet, don’t overlook the happiness and relief from boredom you might be able to bring with a quick visit to a friend who is stuck at home.
If you are thinking this all looks like a lot of work, I decided the alternative was worse. You might want to check out Why I Decided to Have a Bunionectomy.
Have you gone through a period of recovery from a hurt foot or other surgery? Please add your thoughtful tips in the comments.