If you have been around here or my Facebook page lately, you know that back on February 19th, I had surgery for a severely herniated disk. While my surgery (Lumbar Laminectomy) can in many cases be performed as an outpatient procedure, I was kept for 24 hours for observation. In the process, I learned just What To Pack For A Hospital Stay Post Surgery. In my case, I had spent 20 days in severe pain, so when I finally arrived at the surgeons office, he said I would be heading directly to surgery as soon as I was able to come back. That meant I left his office at 11am on a Wednesday and was back at the hospital at 10am the next morning for him to perform surgery. Having a super rushed evening to grab things and go, I was surprisingly prepared, but also realized those little things you don’t think about needing or wanting.
Comfort Items: As you can see in this picture, I brought some comfort items from home. Well, I didn’t – but my 7 year old did for me. The blanket and stuffed animal were both mine when I was his age. He now has them in his bed at night as comfort items, but he thought I needed them while I was away. In all honesty, of all the things packed in my bag, these were the best. I admit it – I was an emotional wreck in the midst of my surgery. I knew what was coming, sort of. I suspected I would need surgery, but I didn’t expect my doctor would basically rush me in to do it immediately. So I went in totally unprepared on many levels. It didn’t fully sink in until well after I came home from the hospital. Then, because sleeping in a hospital room with a 7 year old just isn’t easy, my Beau and the Wee Child left me for the night. They left and I just felt sad. I was in pain, alone and really just wanted my own bed and for my Beau to snuggle with me and make me feel better. Since I couldn’t have that, it was really nice to have something that smelled like home to me. Yes, I have no shame in admitting I snuggled that poor raccoon all night.
Lip Balm and Lotion: I had both of these in my bag, and was really thankful. After the surgery, my lips were really chapped. It helped so much to have that on hand. Lotion was nice to make me feel a bit more freshened up, and to help with dry skin since it was so cold and dry outside at the time. Plus washing my hands so much in the winter months really dried them out.
Shoes or Slippers With Good Grips: After surgery I had to make that first dreaded trip to walk and go to the bathroom. Since I was required to wear the compression stockings for the first 24 hours after surgery, and I was a fall risk, they gave me some really ugly and uncomfortable socks with grip things on the bottom. I wished I had packed my own comfy and soft slipper socks from home to wear in my room. If you have to stay for a few days and will be making those walks down the hall for physical therapy of any kind, make sure to pack an easy to slip on shoe or sock that has good grips. Slick hospital floors and unsteady you are not something you want to mix.
Cough Drops Or Lozenges: Check with your doctor ahead of time to make sure it is okay and safe for you to use, but bringing along your favorite hard candy or cough drop for post surgery will be nice. If you are put under anaesthesia, the tube in your throat will cause irritation. I had a dry tickling cough for a few weeks post surgery, but my throat was really sore that first day or two. They didn’t have anything other than hot tea for me while I was at the hospital and I wished I had thought to pack something.
Entertainment: That night I think I slept maybe 2-3 hours at best. With the visits every hour on the hour, it was just hard to sleep. That coupled with being in pain and having to constantly try to get comfortable, I knew it was a lost cause. (I caught up plenty over the next week at home). I brought my phone, laptop and a few magazines with me. The hospital tray was easy for me to have the laptop on to use when I felt like it. My Beau set up my chargers and had everything within reach before he left making it easy for me to grab things as I needed without getting up or asking the nurse. Music, an eReader, laptop, smartphone, books, magazines or even a craft like crocheting, or knitting can be great. You have to remember though that your brain will be a bit foggy for awhile after you are under anaesthesia, so if it is complicated – it may not be for you.
Comfortable change(s) of clothing: I brought a change of clothing, but didn’t use it until right before time to go home. If you are only going to be in the hospital for a few hours or overnight you may simply need one change of clothes. If you will be there for a few days, then pack some comfortable and easy to get on and off items. I had some extra large (way too big for me) fleece pajama pants and a super big comfy t-shirt in my bag. I knew the incisions on my back would be uncomfortable for awhile, so I didn’t want anything to rub against it much. Plan ahead not for beauty or fashion, but for comfort and easy access to things like bandages, ports, drains and similar items. If your surgery will leave you with wounds or issues that may seep onto your clothing, grab old clothing or items you don’t mind having show some stain. You can alternately simply wear the gowns provided in the hospital. While they aren’t the prettiest things, they are lightweight, mostly comfortable and you don’t have to worry about laundry.
Toiletries: Basics like toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and items for the shower (if you will be allowed to shower) should be packed. Women may want to add in feminine hygiene products as well just in case. Trust me, these things can come up when you least expect them to.
While there are likely dozens of other things some individuals would say are important to pack for a hospital stay post surgery, these are on the top of my list. This surgery definitely gave me a new appreciation for the medical field, and for the comfort of my own home. I hope you don’t ever have to experience what I did, but if so – at least you will be a bit more prepared.