Friday, April 5, 2013

PAO Essentials List

I saw this on another hip blog and thought it was an ingenious idea. It’d probably be good to give you some ideas on things I used to make my life easier post-surgery. These are really in no particular order. If I remember random things over time, I'll continue to add to this post.

Step stool – I used this to get into and out of our bed, which is very high. I placed it perpendicular to the bed on the outside of my leg, facing in towards my left, un-PAOed leg. I faced away from the bed, with my back towards the bed. Using the bed to brace myself, I used one crutch on my right side to push myself up and move my left foot onto the stool and stood up on it. I sat on the bed from there. We had ours prior to the surgery, but I’m sure you could get a good one at Target, or any medical supply store. One like this would be good:

Shower seat – Absolutely, 100% integral. We have a tub shower, and if it weren’t for the shower seat there is NO WAY I would have been able to shower at all. Because we have a tub shower, we purchased a shower seat that extends over the lip of the tub and out of the tub. That way I could sit outside the tub and scoot and swivel into the tub. This is essential if you’ve got a tub shower. Otherwise you won’t be able to get over the tub lip. You’ll need this even if you have a walk-in shower, as you’re going to get tired really fast. We got one almost just like this:
I had the handle on the inside of the tub, and that helped me immensely. These are adjustable.

Plastic trash bag for your chair – The visiting nurses taught me this. If the chair you choose to spend the majority of your time in is cloth, you may want to lay down a plastic garbage bag so that you can slide easily to the edge when you need to stand. I also used this for some of my exercises. My leg was too weak to over come the friction between my pants and the cloth chair. The plastic allowed me to slide my leg.

Warm socks with rubber grippies on bottom – these will be your best friend. The hospital sent me home with three pairs. I use them almost every single day.

Ask for extra Surgical TED socks – These are the knee-high white, super tight anti-embolism socks for circulation. The hospital only sent me home with the ones I was wearing and they get gross fast. Ask for extra so you can rotate them. This is what they look like, mine were white but apparently (for the more fashionable than I) they come in beige as well:

Towels for your crutches – Seems obvious, but you’re gonna be on those ALL the time, you’ll want some extra padding. Duct tape some comfy folded hand towels to the top of your crutches. 

Bed pillow – I took an extra bed pillow with me everywhere. I used it in the car if my back hurt, I used in the wheel chair to support my back while I leaned. I used it at people’s houses while I sat on the couch to protect my surgical hip from people hitting it, and to raise my leg if I had the opportunity to, etc.

Body Pillow -
I used a body pillow to sleep and it was a HUGE help. I placed it on my non-operated side so that I could turn and lie on my non-operated side and use the pillow to support my operated leg. It was a huge help for me because I had so much trouble getting comfortable in bed. I had a lot of back pain and it was nice to have options for positions to move and try to relieve some of the pain.

Heating pad – I kept this near my chair for days when my back was just not behaving. 

X-Large Gel Ice Pack – This will help you ice the surgical site on a regular basis. I iced every day, several times a day for the first few weeks. I had several different ice packs available. You can get them at Target or any pharmacy.

Tray tables – I set one up on either side of my recliner so I could have everything I needed at arms length. It helped keep everyone a little saner. If you're not sure what I mean:

Small wristlet (something pocket sized) – Ladies - for short trips, I put all of my necessary items in here when I traveled. Necessary being: License, medical insurance card, chapstick, cell phone and anything else you REALLY need. All the other crap I usually take in my purse was useless to me. 

Backpack – When you’re going out for a whole day, take a small backpack that you can fit all your necessities in. Medications, my purse essentials, whatever you'll want for the day etc. Using a purse was almost impossible. A backpack will make your life so much easier. 

Rent a wheelchair – Really. Just do it. The doctor made the arrangements for me, and I told myself I’d never use it (apparently I have a pride thing), and guess what? It was my most bestest friend. Make sure you get one with adjustable foot rests…that way you can extend it so your leg/knee isn’t bent too sharply. I only used it a handful of times, but it was a lifesaver when I did. I am wishing I had it after this second surgery. And FYI, you lose all sense of pride in the hospital…

Here's a pic of the one I had, the foot rests were all sorts of adjustable. The most important thing is that they could be moved out to the side of the chair to make it easier to get into and out of the chair. The footrests also could be removed completely from the chair to make it easier to store in the trunk of our car. This was great, and a lifesaver.

This was our first REAL outing after surgery (besides going out to get my VOTE on). A Target trip (we LOVE Target).

Comfy Slippers – Self explanatory. Let's be honest, you won’t be able to tie your shoes; this just makes it easier for everyone.

Lots of loose-fitting sweatpants – Self explanatory. However, it’s probably ALL you’ll wear for a long time. I have 4 pairs…and it wasn’t always enough.

Peroxide, cotton balls, etc – I clean my incisions every couple days. (You’ll only have one (big) incision, I had an additional surgery).

Vitamin E lotion – This is for later on, once your incision is fully healed. This lotion will help keep the skin moist and healthy and can help reduce the appearance of the scar in the long run.

Grabby thing – You’ll probably need one of those mechanical arms that helps you grab things. I got mine at CVS, in the "As Seen on TV" (I laugh at that section). I have one like this:
 I didn't use this, but I bet it would have been helpful if I had remembered I owned one.....

Cleaning Body wipes – Let me be honest with you. You’re not going to shower very often. I really tried for 2 showers a week and was lucky if I felt good enough to do that. Besides the feeling good, it's just a debacle to try to get undressed, into the shower, maneuver in there, get out and get dressed up again. You're EXHAUSTED after you attempt this. These wipes will help you clean up and feel less grubby on days when you just can’t bring yourself to get in the shower. You can get these at any pharmacy.

Dry shampoo – Same as above. I got mine at Target.

Electric razor – If you have similar treatment to me – you’ll be on a serious blood thinner for a while after surgery. The hospital told me NO SHAVING with a razor after surgery. I had to use an electric razor. Reason being if you cut yourself, you’re not going to clot well at all and you’ll just keep bleeding. The electric razor isn’t perfect…but for me shaving made me feel a little more normal.  I got mine at Target.

Baby powder – I loved this stuff after surgery. It kept me feeling somewhat fresh when I hadn’t showered in days. The hospital provided this for me, but you can get it at any pharmacy.

Different textured fabrics/materials – Random, right? Let me explain. Since surgery, I have a large area on my thigh that is numb. My PT told me to rub it with different textures to try and wake up the nerves. If you have the same outcome, I suggest this as something to keep bedside. I do it before I go to bed a couple times a week. I use a fleece blanket, Velcro and cotton.


  1. Thank you for this list! I will be getting my PAO surgery in Santa Monica at the end of August. It's overwhelming at times, but thanks to blogs like this and other PAO testimonials I feel more inspired and ready to move forward with this emotionally and spiritually. : )

    1. Hi Jessica!
      Thank you for your comment! It is so great to know that I am accomplishing what I sent out to do with this others prepare for their upcoming surgeries! I hope you find answers to your questions, and if you have any specific ones, please feel free to ask!
      I'll be thinking of you as late August approaches!

    2. Hi Jessica,
      Just wanted to say that I'm thinking of you, as I know you just recently had your PAO! I hope it was wildly successful and you're feeling better every day!


  2. Hello Danielle
    This is great attempt to those who are unknown to the PAO Journey. I really appreciate your effort to being out real life experience of PAO. I would like to know this Blog is old enough last reply published in 2013. Are you still active on it ? if so then I would like to know few more things about PAO in terms of Post and Pre implications Social, Economical,Professional