Sisterhood of the traveling knee surgery
September 16, 2021 4:01 PM   Subscribe

I'm getting on an airplane and flying to another city for knee surgery. Have you done this yourself? If so, any pro tips or recommendations that I might not think of?

I'm traveling to another city for knee surgery. I've never done this before (knee surgery, yes; a 6-hour flight to and fro for knee surgery, no). I will have my sister with me as I start the 2-week 5-days-a-week PT that starts the day after surgery. I will not be weight bearing on that leg for a few weeks even after I come home.

I have first class tickets for the flight back so I am not getting jostled. I am trying to consider things like, how will I manage luggage while on crutches, etc.

Do you have experience with things like this? If so, what could I be forgetting or what is super important about traveling for this kind of thing that wouldn't be an issue at home?
posted by executive_dysfuncti0n to Health & Fitness (4 answers total)
Be sure to contact the airline and request a wheelchair to get you to and from the gates, and also get a porter with a cart to deal with the luggage. The porter can wrestle your bags off the baggage carousel and take them to the curb for you.
posted by serendipityrules at 4:32 PM on September 16, 2021 [6 favorites]

Two years ago I flew with my wife (to a square dance convention in Philadelphia, from the SF Bay Area, she didn't dance that week...) a few weeks after she got a partial knee replacement. As serendipityrules says, contact the airline, get the wheelchair accommodations, carry the right-sized cash to tip the wheelchair folks, they are awesome.

We sprung for first class to make sure that she had room for her leg, and carried a blow-up beach ball to have more options for foot rests and foot adjustments.

She had me to carry additional luggage and whatnot, though I believe the wheelchair folks were also happy to assist with wrangling baggage.

I don't know if you're staying in that other city, but know that medical supply places will both happily rent wheelchairs, and pick up and drop off from hotels (Philadelphia, you know I ended up pushing her up the ramps to the Philadelphia Art Museum a couple of times).
posted by straw at 4:43 PM on September 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Consider:
- airport assistance
- rolling luggage and bags with trolley sleeves (or a bag bungee) that your sister can manage when outside the airport
- wearing a jacket or vest with multiple pockets (instead of a handbag) or
- using a crossbody bag or waist bag (instead of a shoulder bag)
- perfecting your shoelace game
- crutch fit ahead of time
- laundry access on the road, to pack lighter (while preserving options to change clothes more often than usual b/c of physical therapy, surgical dressing, etc.)
- exploring comfortable masks for travel and your p/t sessions now
- on (delayed) preview -- yes, medical equipment rental, and you may be able to reserve wheelchairs or scooters around the city, should you have the opportunity to sightsee a bit during the two weeks.

Sometimes hotel rooms are advertised as disability-accessible but aren't ADA compliant (see: tub seats). Make sure your lodgings meet your post-surgical needs, like easy elevator access, a bath shower stall with rails/shower bench room (or possibly a bathtub with a ledge and a shower-handset), maybe a mini-fridge/freezer. P/T 5x/week will make you sweaty, and multiple daily showers with a fatigued, post-surgery knee are a drag-- wet wipes, body wipes, and dry shampoo can tide you over.

Check with your doctor re: appropriateness of any post-surgery lounge/overnight cushion support. Inflatable cushions. Pack supplies for unfamiliar sleep positions: head/neck support pillows, nasal strips, maybe an eye mask. Earplugs and a travel white noise machine (or app) are useful in general.

Your doctor, physical therapist, or their facilities might maintain resources (travel checklists, lists with accessible lodging, preferred drugstores/surgical supply stores, equipment rental) for patients in your situation.

You have a terrific sister, btw! Since you won't know your energy levels until you're actually in recovery, I think she needs a solo sightseeing list for your possible nap downtime. Best wishes for an easy surgery and swift recovery.
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:26 PM on September 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

You could also ship your luggage home.
posted by oceano at 9:14 PM on September 16, 2021

« Older Searching for a short story about identical twins...   |   You must have gone to a Catholic school! Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments