There Was an Old Woman...
First Post-Surgery Outing

Post Surgery At-Home Assistance Tools

My 20-some staples come out today – three weeks and one day since the surgery and I'm glad for that. The incision looks nicely healed to me and it's time to move on.

Still, overall recovery will take much longer. A whole lot of stuff inside me was removed, relocated and reconnected in new ways so for several more weeks I am not allowed to bend over or twist my torso.

Until forbidden, you – like me – might not ever have noticed how often you bend every day. It can easily be dozens of times and as a result, I now have a reasonably large collection of special tools to help me do so many things I did without second thought before now.

You will be familiar with most of these but the last two might be a surprise for you.

Of course, the ever-present walker. Lots of elders need this at some point – temporarily if not permanently. I navigate well on my own in the house but I'll take it with me just in case for awhile when I go outside.


With the help of a home health aide, I took my first shower at home on Monday. It went well but no way, even with an industrial strength non-skid pad in the bathtub would I stand on one foot in the shower right now.

The shower stool is a steady, reliable solution.


This tool is almost as ubiquitous as the walker. It is endlessly useful, as I found for laundry. I'd thought – hey, no big deal. I can drop the dirty clothes in the washer, put in the soap and then transfer it to the dryer.

Oh yeah? I have a stacked washer/dryer that would involve a major bend in the middle of my torso to get the wet laundry out of the washer. Not good. But then I remembered the grabber and all was well.


Even if you've never used one, you've seen this a zillion times in your life. Custodians everywhere use them to keep floors in offices, schools and even ballparks clear of trash.

I've found it's also useful for all the things I manage to drop.


Apologies that I don't recall the name of the TGB reader who recommended this to me. The image below is different from mine which includes a long-handled, small bucket to hold a plastic bag in addition to the long-handled litter scoop as shown in this photo.

It's slightly unwieldy to empty the litter box but it works fine.


Cats are unpredicatable and the last thing anyone just home from surgery needs is a cat landing on an incision.

A neighbor had told me that after her abdominal surgery several years ago, she turned a large cardboard box upside down, removed the flaps and cut holes at either end for her legs and chest.

She slept that way and was safe if the cat jumped on her - he'd land on the box, not her abdomen.

I thought this was a clever solution but I didn't have a big box. What I do have however, sitting unused in a bedroom corner for longer than I can remember, is a bed table. I place it over my mid-section when I'm in bed and sleep safely from the cat's potential errant ways.


As soon as I got home from the hospital I realized I had no idea how I would feed and water the cat. I couldn't bend over to get his bowls from the floor and he's too old and fat to jump onto the counter. What to do?

This is ingenious not to mention, the coolest thing: My neighbor, Lauri Lindquist, got a three-foot, cardboard tube. He then formed a plastic cup into a funnel and taped it to the top of the tube. Voila!

All I do now is place the bottom of the tube in the cat's food dish and pour his dry food through the tube. (Sorry the photo isn't better; you can barely see the plastic funnel at the top. I didn't have the energy to fool around to get it right.)


Lauri's wife, Judy Rossner, had the idea to use a watering can to carefully pour water in Ollie's water dish and that works too.

There are plenty of other useful tools for people coming out of surgery or who are disabled in other ways. They are all helpful and I'm grateful for every one of them. But my favorite is Lauri's homemade cat food funnel. Excellent.


It looks like you are ready to start your own clever "after op" shop, Ronni. Super to see that you are doing so well and coping so nicely. Good going!

Nice that while you are learning new ways to cope, you share those ways and the tools with pics, even.

Okay, who is going to be the maker of the cat-funnel-feeder? I can see and hear the commercials now. "Never bend over to feed your cat again! Call now and get 3 for the low, low, price of 19.95."

A great idea, and should be simple to produce--patent it now.

I didn't have surgery 3 wks. ago, but it took all the energy I had to dry mop my condo this morning! After reading today's blog, I'm feeling guilty as heck, but at least now I have some incentive to do more. LOL.
Keep us posted so we get a few things done around the house. Don't know how you do it, but you must have some resource that I lost a long time ago! You have inspired me......a very good thing. Since turning 80, I've discovered that I can do very little around the house. Thank goodness I can still drive! Thanks Ronni for making my day. Dee:):)

Your rapid recovery and continuing improvement are enviable, Ronni. And really, it's not surprising as you've shown in the columns here that you're one to take on a challenge wholeheartedly and with a sort of grim enthusiasm, if needed. Hey, whatever works.

And you sound stronger. In this transition of yours, the roller coaster doesn't slow down and that must be discouraging at times. But transitions are about those tumultuous or calm times of going from one place to another, the B in A to C.

As your healing progresses, you might check out Esther Gohkale's website on bending over at the hip joint, which keeps your abdominals and back relatively flat. (Check with your physician or nurse - as if you haven't already known that?? )

Hang in there and be ultra-kind to your self. And many gratitudes for continuing to write and include all of us on this journey of yours.

Bravo for you Ronni--using all those clever helpmates!

Grateful for your post, which brought nods of recognition and smiles and wonder. Grateful, too, for great neighbors and great ideas.

Thank you for sharing all this valuable information! So glad you have supportive neighbors.

So many good ideas and adaptations here -- necessity truly is the mother of invention. Glad to hear the staples are coming out, and that you have helpful neighbors and home health aides. Still, I think I might be worried that I might bend or twist without even thinking about it. Recovery from surgery can be a powerful exercise in mindfulness. Hoping that each day for you is a little better than the one before.

Decades ago when I had a tubal ligation, I was afraid to bend, twist, sneeze, laugh. My restrictions were actually pretty minimal, yet any of these things left me feeling like there was a taught rubberband inside me about to snap. The worst time was when I was coming out of the anesthesia in the recovery room and I could hear the nurses talking. They were saying some really funny things, or at least I thought they were at that moment, and I kept starting to laugh and it hurt a lot. But I wasn't awake and coherent enough yet to be able to communicate this to them. It was a weird, painful and strange, yet funny, experience.

Do you have trouble with being at a 90 degree angle while sitting?

Your endurance and creativity never fail to amaze me.!!

Ronni, this exactly what I hoped you'd do--help us get through things that are bound to find us, sooner or later.

My question: How did you find the home health aide and are you happy with how that's going?

Good for you, Ronni, making the best of a bad situation. As time goes by we all must make adjustments to the way we do things. As they say, it goes with the territory.

My husband's home health aid saved me from hurting myself. She taught me all the ways to help him do routine things. She came 4 days a week and I should had had her even more It was very sad to say good bye after three months when my husband could finally take a shower by himself.

Health aids are very wonderful people. Do not under estimate how long it will take you to get your strength back.

So glad you sound better. Your neighbor's cat food delivery system is genius. Those grabbers can be a be a wonderful tool. Thanks for the Ronni-tested solutions. Don't wear yourself out visiting the staple remover today.

You and your good friends and neighbors prove once again that creative people will overcome any problem with innovations. Good to learn those pesky staples are on the way out. Keep on healing!

I've made special note of your pet care solutions in particular and will no doubt need them in the next few years. Especially since I have a rather large water bowl serving both a cat and a dog. It's already a bit tricky bending over to set the full bowl on the floor.

Also, the grabber for the laundry. The tub on my top-loading washer is so deep that anyone shorter than I (5'8") would have trouble reaching the bottom. The dryer, of course, is front loading. Between the two, lots of bending and twisting.

Good to hear you're doing so well. Keep it up!

Thanks for sharing your post-op gadget tips, Ronni.
All have great usefulness.
Although I don't 'need' my grabber any more, it still comes in handy,
as does that little bench for the shower.
So, you also may well find some of these improvisations will become indispensable.

Necessity is the mother of all inventions. I'm glad you shared your work-arounds for feeding and watering Ollie. I am filing those to use for my dog

I have one of those shower stools, bought years ago just in case. I don't need it for actual showering right now, but find it very handy to be able to sit for foot care.

Another thing I am so glad to have installed are the grab bars in the shower enclosure. Not practical if you're renting, of course. For people who own, though... don't put it off because you think they'll be ugly. There are beautiful alternatives out there -- you can find them if you look. The ones we've got, they're like jewelry for the bathroom. They make me happy every time I look at them, and not just because they're keeping us safe.

Gold Stars for each of your creative friends and your own inspirations.

Hope you don't mind, but I'm going to use a couple of these great ideas as I am having the same problems you are!

Very nice helpers, Ronni
Congratulations for you bravure and resiliency.

Get better every day!



Happy de-stapling day to you!

I am pleased to learn you have an old, fat cat. Cats are marvelous soothers.

Have they given you a thing to put your socks on with? Probably not a big need in the summer but I like to wear socks around the house at night and it is a helpful tool. I also have water and food dishes for my cat that have large bottles attached. About once a week you have someone clean the bowls and fill the water and dry food containers and the cat always has food/water available. Some of the water ones even have a fountain feature that keeps the water moving.

I never used the cat little scoop because I didn't know there was such a thing. I invested in a self-cleaning litter box (pretty expensive) and had the helper clean the whole thing once a week. Worked great.

It is wonderful that they have all these tools to use. I still use my grabber and sometimes wish I had it in the supermarket to retrieve items off the shelves.

You are making great progress. You'll know you are getting better when you start complaining about everything (or I guess that is when you are in the hospital). I think
you are wonderful to keep us up on what's going on with you. You have a huge group
of caring people wishing you well. That's great in itself.

Some great ingenious ideas here; for me the cat litter scooper-upper is especially useful. Ronni, there's a great alternative walker with wheels and a fold-down seat, which can double up to carry a small tray with drinks and food. There's even a little bag underneath to put any necessaries in. You can get indoor and outdoor types. The latter are more robust and have brakes that lock when you want a sit-down.

May your great improvements and your ingenuity go on and on.


And you manage to do the blog to inform us, even now! That's a lot of stars for your crown, for sure! My fav is the cat feeder tube thingy. Handle bars in the shower, on the wall here and there, were super after surgery, and I still like having them there.

You, as I and my Southern neighbors like to say, are a mess! That's a high compliment. Of you I might say, "She sure is a messa SMART!"

Love, blessings.

Like all the other posters, I am familiar with most of your "new tools", but am greatly and happily astonished by your neighbor's fancy feeding tube for Ollie... what a bright neighbor you have... As for your exhaustion, remember you have been through the mill both physically and emotionally, and it certainly will take your body, and your energy a while to regroup...(personally think you are doing I would have long since given up on the blog...but please don' many of us love hearing from you). Rest when you need to, take a day or two off if you feel the need, but continue to regroup...we all need you. Just refrain from the line dancing and high kicks for a wee while... Glad to hear you are on the mend from your surgery, and it sounds like you have great neighbors and friends looking out for you...then of course there are a few (hundred) of us folk lurking in the background and cheering you on.... "Go Ronni...Go Ronni...Go Ronni!!"

I echo one of the previous comments: Happy De-stapling Day! I remember from long-ago back surgeries in my 20s how great it was to actually take a shower again.

Your array of assistive devices is handy to know about, especially since (surgeries notwithstanding), my back is definitely ageing faster than the rest of me, at least so far. The cat feeding tube and litterbox scoop are super ideas, although I have tried another type of long-handled scoop that didn't work well for me. It probably didn't help that I'm short (under 5'2") and couldn't get much "leverage".

Glad your recovery continues apace--doubt that I would be doing nearly as well. The fact that you can blog at all, let alone make perfect sense and offer information that will help many others, is ah-mazing!!

Five stars Ronni.

The grabber and cat feeding tube are my favorites.

You are impressing the heck out of me!!

I was spoiled while in the hospital, so bought a "fancy" wheeled walker with a seat. I used it for weeks for walks outside. Found the shower seat essential, too -- was afraid to step over the tub edge, and didn't have the energy for a standing shower anyway.

I was protecting myself from young children, mostly by staying out of their way! But I love your cat solutions, especially the bed tray, feeder and waterer!

Hope the de-stapling was easy!

Yay for you! Terrific news. I thought when I first read this that you'd already had your staples out and wondered why you didn't say more about it, since I remember the staple removal after my knee replacement as (to use the technical term) a bitch.

Then I saw it hadn't been done yet, so now that it has, I hope it wasn't too bad. I don't quite understand why they have to use metal for those, but so it goes.

Keep on keeping on . . . and get lots of rest. We love hearing from you.

The toughest thing to do after abdominal surgery is putting on one's socks. I tried to do it with the "grabber" but it didn't work out too well. Finally had to give in and buy one of those sock-putter-onner slide thingy's.

I found a sock donner very helpful, especially since I had to wear compression hose for several weeks. But it would help with regular socks too.

Some really great tips here. Thanks for sharing!


This helps me in preparing for upcoming back surgery. Your constant upbeat courage heartens me, too. Blessings, always.

There's a toilet addition that proved useful when I got home. And what I use most is my "Rolator"...a walker with a seat and brakes.

The last time I had staples removed, the surgeon gave me no instructions about what to do afterwards, such as washing the area with anti-bacterial soap and applying salve. I had no idea, and I got a staph infection.

Thank God a neighbor who is a physician's assistant stopped by for a visit and I showed her the staple site. She took one look, said "staph infection" and got to work.

I really try hard to stay on very good terms with everyone I know who has medical credentials! Ha!

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