Preparing your family
Most surgeries are considered stressful and although some family members may actually cause stress in your life, most patients find comfort in the help and support of their families. Thus, it is extremely important to inform your family that you are having surgery and ask for their help. Most of the time, this is a great experience for all the family members involved.
Many matriarchs of the family find it difficult to ask for help because they have always provided the help. However, there is a saying we remind our patients of everyday: “Strong men are independent and wise men are interdependent." If this is not true, name the last strong man you quoted! Some patients do not want to ask family members for help because they believe they are imposing. A family member recovering from surgery is not imposing. Over the past 20 years of helping patients through surgical preparation, I have never had a patient or a family member regret the experience of taking care or
allowing someone else take care of them. The length of time a family member may need to help you depends on the type of surgery you are undergoing. Simple arthroscopies of the knee or hip may only require 24-48 hrs of care. However, major joint replacement may mean someone may need to stay with you 24/7 for 3 weeks. Most of the time, the first 1-2 weeks are the most important, but we always tell family members or friends to count on continual care for 3 weeks.
Family and Medical Leave
If you are concerned about a family member loosing a job over taking some time off to help you, don’t worry. Your family member is guaranteed time away from their work through a federal law entitled “The Family Leave Act”. This allows all qualified employees to request time off work using the downloadable form at: < http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/ > Only employers with over 50 employees have to comply to this federal law and only employees whom have worked longer than a year can apply for this leave.
Regardless if you ask a family member to take care of you, all patients MUST have someone else take them home from the hospital or surgical center. You cannot drive yourself home. So, no matter how independent and strong you believe you are, you must be a wise person and actually ask someone else to help you out.
A care-giver does not need to be an immediate family member. Some patients rely on good friends or church groups. Remember that there are numerous people out there hoping to help you out. You just need to ask!