Spinal surgeries happen all the time. Actress Katherine Heigl, chef David Burtka, models Natalie Roser and Martha Hunt, golfer Tiger Woods, and Princess Eugenia of York have all had spinal surgery.
Your job in prepping for any surgery doesn’t end with simply finding the right surgeon. You need to plan for how to prepare and recover from the surgery so you don’t make your scoliosis worse.
You need to plan for recovery especially because you’re not going to feel well post-surgery and won’t be in the right mindset to make a recovery plan at that point. The following are some things to consider as you make your plan, and come from my own personal experience.
Anesthesia drugs make you really constipated, so having supplements on hand that you can take post-surgery are important to help your bowels move. Some of my personal favorites are cape aloe, smooth move tea, and cascara sagrada. They have helped me out when I was in dire constraints. When needed, I take them around dinner time or bedtime and then things are moving well when I wake up.
If you have a colon hygienist who can give you a colonic a few days post-surgery, that is also beneficial. When I’ve had general anesthesia from a few different surgeries, the supplements I just recommended helped get my bowels moving. But my mind was still fuzzy (from all the medicines that were still in my system) until I had a colonic. Only then did my brain fog lift as all the medications were flushed from my body.
Before the surgery you may want to have your iron levels checked. This is especially true if you have low iron levels, a history of anemia, or know you may lose a lot of blood during surgery. You can also ask your doctor if you should take iron supplements after surgery and they can monitor your iron levels post-surgery to make sure they return to a normal range.
If you need to take iron supplements after surgery, I’ve taken Gaia’s liquid iron with great success and highly recommend it. Many iron supplements increase constipation, and since most people are already constipated after surgery, you need to make sure your iron supplement make the situation worse.
Post-surgery nutrition should also be part of your plan. Most people aren’t very hungry for the first few days after surgery, so having high nutrient smoothies you can make with veggies and fruits, like kale, spinach, and berries will be helpful. Adding high-quality protein powder, nutrient dense green superfood powder, and gelatin to your smoothies will only help your body heal quicker. There are different kinds of blenders you can use but using one where there’s not much additional clean-up is helpful.
You’ll also need to focus on water intake post-surgery, so having water bottles placed around your home, will be helpful. I keep mine near wherever I’ll be sitting, lying down, resting, and sleeping. You might not be in the mood to drink water, but you really need to and will feel better if you do. Having water already placed around the areas where you will be will greatly encourage you to drink it when you don’t feel well and aren’t motivated to get up and go to the kitchen to get a cup of water.
Consider a massage post-surgery. However, the search for a good therapist should be part of your prepare for surgery plan. I recommend booking an appointment a few days after surgery (if cleared by your doctor). The best option will be someone you have a history with who can come to your home, but even if you have to go to their studio, your body will benefit. While the therapist won’t be working on your surgery site, they can work on other areas that are going to be tight due to your body being tense from overall pain and poor sleep. Calming down non-surgical sites as soon as possible after surgery is beneficial to the whole body and encourages better sleep, which means quicker healing.
Another key part of your plan is movement. Start walking a little a day or two after you arrive home from the hospital. Maybe the first day would simply be to the mailbox and back. The next day you might be able to do that twice. Keep building every day and slowly encouraging and reminding your body that it can and needs to move. A few days later you’ll have made it around the block. Keep building on how much you walk every day.
You can also add in small movements while you’re recuperating at home. Slowly move the areas of your body that were not affected by surgery. If you had spinal surgery, then do some small wrist and shoulder circles with no weights. Circle your ankles, bend your knees in and out, and move one leg gently in your hip socket.
Don’t forget your feet in your movement plan. I’ve experienced great success for myself and my clients on massaging out the feet with Franklin balls. The joints start moving, and tight muscle and bound fascia starts moving for the first time in days. Under the watchful eye of a trained instructor (which can easily be done virtually), you can slowly release not only the feet, but also other muscles not affected in surgery with these balls. I’ve witnessed clients cry from relief post-surgery when I carefully cue them on release exercises with these green balls.
Not sure how to prepare and recover from surgery? Book a virtual lesson beforehand, and Spiral Spine’s staff will happily guide you through how to make a plan to prepare and recover from surgery. You can even book a virtual lesson post-surgery if you need some accountability getting moving.
I recently asked a long-term, regular, virtual client of mine who had a back surgery to share her advice and this is what she said:
“I am so thankful I went into surgery in the best shape possible, from working with Erin! All my Pilates hard work prior to surgery paid off on the flip side of surgery.
From a mental standpoint, there is so much to work through. The physical pain and the physical part of recovery is extremely challenging, but I wasn’t prepared for how it would mess with my mind. You literally wake up with a new back and it’s a lot to process.
The most important piece is what Erin always preaches. Have your dream team assembled, who already works with your body before you go into surgery. It’s truly a gift from God that He put Erin in my life along with my manual physical therapist. The surgeons have their place and time, but they don’t experience what I must live with. While I’m grateful for how the two great surgeons helped alleviate my nerve pain and knew how to deal with my complex back, I never got one piece of advice as to how to help my body post-surgery. I was told plenty of what not to do, but nothing of what would be beneficial for me. I was told only to walk. I get it, I need to rest and heal but what the doctors don’t understand is how the rest of my body is suffering while the surgery portion is healing. There must be a balance.”
I think my client’s words paint a perfect picture of what so many people go through, but simply don’t talk about. Most people do a great job putting in the time and research in finding the right surgeon, now do the same due-diligence in making a plan to prepare and recover from surgery so your scoliosis is a healthy beforehand as after.
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