What can I do while I recover from surgery?
September 11, 2006 8:46 PM   Subscribe

Do you have ideas for things I can do while recovering from surgery and confined to bed for 10 days?


I must have orthopedic reconstructive surgery of my feet this week. I am totally confined to bed for a minimum of 10 days, with my feet elevated above my heart to ensure there is minimum swelling, bleeding and imflamation durting the initial post-surgery recovery. I feel confident about the surgery and realize that the procedures will greatly improve my quality of life.

I am asking for suggestions for interesting acitvities that will help me recover more effectively and keep myself occupied and my mind off any residucal pain. I will not be allowed to sit at my computer or do any movement that would increase my heart rate, (which would cause bleeding and swelling). I should mention that currently I am living alone. I will be having nursing care 3 times a day, but for the majority of the day, I will be alone.

I would like creative ideas and suggestions anyone may have that would keep my spirits up, my mind occupied, and decrease stress and anxiety.

Thank you in advance for your thoughtful interest.

posted by muse to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know what you're into, but when I put myself in that situation, a couple books of crossword puzzles sound attractive.
posted by paul_smatatoes at 8:52 PM on September 11, 2006

Well, as you're going to be confined to your bed, i'd gather anything you can do while lying down. Books, crossword puzzles, maybe even rent a few good documentaries (or whatever kind of movie you're into) from the local video store. Since you mentioned not being able to sit at your computer, i assume a laptop isn't exactly available. Buy yourself some yummy snacks to keep in your bedside drawer, and try to enjoy lounging around reading books and watching movies all day. I hope it takes your mind off the pain!
posted by alon at 8:58 PM on September 11, 2006

Video games?
posted by greta simone at 9:08 PM on September 11, 2006

I can be absorbed by hard sudoku puzzles for hours. Also, electronic handheld Yahtzee is fun.
posted by chippie at 9:08 PM on September 11, 2006

Xbox 360, baby. Or a Nintendo DS.
posted by frogan at 9:10 PM on September 11, 2006

Move the phone near to the bed and call friends and catch up! (if you're at all like me, this is long overdue.) Or have friends over to keep you company as much as possible. Having a sick-in-bed friend who's not contagious sounds like a treat to me!

Can you get that computer closer? The interweb is so perfect for whiling away your hours. (to my continual dismay)

Rent LOST. Or something equally addictive.

Original, awesome crafts! But - childish crafts are underrated. I could easily spend hours on a coloring book or a potholder kit or a paint-by-number. Down at the crafts store, there are many other varieties. I think these are good for breaking up the monotony of book, movie, book. Maybe I'm a freak. But afterward, you'd have quite the souvenir.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:10 PM on September 11, 2006

Um, I can't believe no one has mentioned masterbation!

alternatively, you could learn to play harmonica.
posted by serazin at 9:13 PM on September 11, 2006

Now's a great chance to brush up on a foreign language. Or read a programming language book (if you're into that sort of thing). Or sketch out that novel.

Or call friends you haven't talked to in a while.

You've also got knitting, crochet, prioritizing your life, redesigning your [kitchen | whatever] on paper, writing letters to the editor, writing letters to your family, learning new permutations of "Cat's Cradle", becoming _really informed_ about your upcoming elections, planning out things to write (about the elections or otherwise) later.

Also: drawing, painting, etc. Reading & doing the exercises from "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain". Studying books on art history.

Getting courses on audio CD or even video from "The Learning [Teaching?] Company" and using them -- e.g. the classic "Listening to and Understanding Great Music". Then you can listen to and understand some great (classical) music.

Learning to play guitar or some other non-piano instrument. Learn to read music. Learn all the lyrics to those songs you really like, so you can own it at your next karaoke night.

Volunteer with some organization to call & talk to lonely people.
posted by amtho at 9:15 PM on September 11, 2006 [2 favorites]

Sketch different rooms in your house and imagine what you would do if you could redesign the rooms, it's fun being creative and changing it up and eats up a lot of time.

Also my good guy friend was recovering from back surgery recently and he took up knitting of all things! He got pretty good at it and has already made Christmas gifts for his friends and family.
posted by bluehermit at 9:17 PM on September 11, 2006

Interested in learning another language? Borrow a set of Pimsleur Language CD's from your local library or find something like Destinos on DVD.
posted by peeedro at 9:17 PM on September 11, 2006

Try simple meditation. It may not sound terribly interesting, but it is remarkably refreshing, is great for reducing stress and anxiety, and it's easy.

Close your eyes. Pick a short word, such as "too", and begin repeating the word over and over again to yourself. Whatever else you're thinking, just keep repeating your word. Sooner or later your mind will go quiet, and drift briefly. Let it. If you start to think about anything, just start repeating your word to yourself again.

Even if you don't get your mind to go quiet the first few times you try it, it's still relaxing, and you will get better with practice.
posted by owhydididoit at 9:17 PM on September 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't schedule yourself for anything much. Sleep is going to whack your schedule more than you can imagine. I had a couple of hip joints replaced 10 years ago, and there are still a couple of months in personal memory I haven't fully reconstructed, thanks to surgical trauma, Percodan, healing, and physical therapy.

Lotsa luck, muse, and "Courage."
posted by paulsc at 9:19 PM on September 11, 2006

Have you ever tried smoking marijuana? It could help you relax, alleviate pain, and it will also allow you to zone out such that the time passes more quickly and pleasantly.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:21 PM on September 11, 2006

Courses and language instruction are fine, but regular old books on CD are great for occupying the mind, and might be a nice change from reading/watching movies when those get old.
posted by mediareport at 9:28 PM on September 11, 2006

list of games that can be played solitaire. Note the average rating by each game--I wouldn't drop below 6.5, generally speaking.

and another list.
posted by mecran01 at 9:36 PM on September 11, 2006

The hand held game of Simon is fantastic.
posted by catseatcheese at 9:36 PM on September 11, 2006

Some decent shows on DVD and lots of Vicodin.
posted by fshgrl at 9:38 PM on September 11, 2006

I second Ambrosia Voyeur's suggestion, rent a season of tv, its an excellent time waster. Although, maybe not Lost because it might increase your heart rate...maybe Arrested Development, Entourage, Weeds, something like that.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 9:40 PM on September 11, 2006

Oh, also, maybe get a cheap laptop with wireless, like a cheap thinkpad 600 maybe. You can sell it when you've recovered!
posted by mecran01 at 9:41 PM on September 11, 2006

Um, I can't believe no one has mentioned masterbation!

Even if it's relatively minor surgery, there's a good chance that the painkillers would make this entirely irrelevant.

I can't believe I'm posting this ...
posted by spaceman_spiff at 9:42 PM on September 11, 2006

I am with Paulsc. From the desription of your recovery, it sounds as if this is not minor surgery. I had a spinal fusion that knocked the crap out of me. You will be lucky to be able to concentrate on "The Price is Right". Planning on much alse is a stretch. You will be Viked up and sore as hell.

If you are truly bed ridden 100% of time and a nurse is only coming 3 times a day, I would get as much snacks and liquids as close to my reach as possible. I would consider getting a small refrig to have next to the bed within reach. I would get an extra set of batteries for the TV remote just in case. I hope there is someone around to clean the bedpan. Who is going to let this nurse into your home and lock up when they leave?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:52 PM on September 11, 2006

Print out some Kakuro - they're much more fun than sudoku. They take a while to get into but they're more rewarding, and hey, you've got the time.

DVD box sets, if you can have the player within reach. Easy fiction: now's the time to re-read stuff you loved but don't have time to revisit during the day-to-day (I'd choose the "Tales of the City" sequence, as they're enjoyable, but not challenging, but obviously it's up to you). Your brain isn't going to be up to much, it's quite amazing how much energy healing takes out of you.
posted by handee at 8:27 AM on September 12, 2006

"I will not be allowed to sit at my computer or do any movement that would increase my heart rate, "

greta simone writes "Video games?"

frogan writes "Xbox 360, baby. Or a Nintendo DS."

serazin writes "Um, I can't believe no one has mentioned mast[u]rbation!"

No, no. no.
posted by orthogonality at 9:14 AM on September 12, 2006

frogan writes "Xbox 360, baby. Or a Nintendo DS."

No, no. no.
posted by orthogonality at 9:14 AM PST

Apparently you've never played an Xbox game, orthogonality, or used a Nintendo DS, neither of which requires you to sit at a computer -- the DS is a handheld device, and for the Xbox, there's these things called controllers, see, that you hold in your hand. Now, maybe some people play Madden by jumping up and down and yelling at the TV screen, but that's not a required action by any stretch ...
posted by frogan at 9:22 AM on September 12, 2006

The computer restriction isn't because she has to sit up per se, it's because sitting up would raise her heart rate. But any action game is going to cause you to release adrenalin and raise your heart-rate.
posted by orthogonality at 9:30 AM on September 12, 2006

If this raises your heartrate ... wow.

Or rather, bow-wow.
posted by frogan at 9:38 AM on September 12, 2006

Get some general puzzle books, crosswords, or print out some paint-by-number puzzles. I second the books on tape -- if you have to be lying down, it's a pain to try and read a real book for very long.
posted by Margalo Epps at 11:15 AM on September 12, 2006

i say knitting...you can have the tv or music or audiobook on in the background...and it's a skill (to the extent i've learned it--i haven't done sweaters and such, just shawls and scarves) i appreciate around the holidays, as i'll make some quick fashion scarves that girls go crazy for, and totally on the cheap!...plus it will be something handy to pass the time on long trips or long waits in line...ten days would give you time to learn the basic stitches and get the feel for it...you could start with large needles and some cool yarn...
posted by troybob at 2:11 PM on September 12, 2006

Knitting + book on tape = hours of productive enjoyment. Knitting books by Elizabeth Zimmermann are a treat to read, too.

Unabridged Lord of the Rings series is something like 48 hours. Ditto unabridged Harry Potter; Series of Unfortunate Events series. PG Wodehouse books and Terry Pratchett books are nice because there are a lot of them, and they're light and fun but still engaging.

Huge DVD serieses, like Ken Burns' Baseball or Jazz, or Michael Palin's travel serieses, all of Monty Python, or all of the Muppet Show or Star Trek or some cop show or whatever you like. Sports Night was a good show that not a lot of people saw, that's out in a complete DVD set. Any of these would be nice because you can basically sleep through them if you need to, and enjoy them while you're awake before nodding off again.

I recently saw Doodles by Taro Gomi, which is an inspired mad-libs style coloring book. (There are partial drawings, with instructions to add your own stuff to finish them)

Write actual paper letters to people? Although if you're on heavy painkillers this might be asking a little much.

Pick up a copy of Games magazine if you like paper-and-pencil puzzles.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:12 PM on September 12, 2006

I've always promised myself that if I were bedridden following surgery, I would do one of these.
posted by Lycaste at 6:38 PM on September 14, 2006

Improve your hand writing.
posted by klarck at 4:54 AM on September 15, 2006

I was bedridden for orthopedic (bunion) surgery twice. ten days bed rest each time.

it was wonderful - but then again, I really lived it up in the time before each surgery. I was so tired I was glad for the rest.

the pain pills will make you sleep. a lot. make sure you have a supply of fresh pajamas and pillowcases nearby, if you can't shower or bathe much for the first few days. not feeling dirty and itchy will keep your spirits up. have nonperishable snacks at hand, books, magazines, the remote and the phone. people who don't usually hear from you will be happy to get a call.

I spent most of my recovery asleep, noodling around on my laptop (you could start a carepage if you have a lot of people who want updates on your condition but don't feel like emailing them individually) and doing a little reading. The time went by really fast. The time after I was in the boot hobbling around - now that really dragged. But the bed rest was great.
posted by pinky at 11:24 AM on September 15, 2006

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