It is laughable to look back at the ridiculous amount of things I packed for my first surgery. Games, coloring books, knitting projects, books….the list was enough to fill the trunk and then some. Of course I needed all of those things. How was I going to pass the time during my estimated 4-7 days of recovery? When it came down to it I had no mental focus to partake in any of the entertainment I packed. I played the in-room spa music all day and kept as zen of a room as possible. My days and nights were filled with wonderful visitors, laps around the hallway, constant interruptions from doctors and nurses, eating meals and lots of sleeping.
As I prepare for my second hospitalization I plan to learn from my mistakes and pack only the must-haves. Here is my top 10 list:
- Chapstick and lotion: This was the best advice from my Aunt N. Hospitals are super dry and these items will help remedy that and make you feel a bit more human.
- Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, soap for the shower, deodorant, face wash…It feels so much better to bring your favorite products from home. Nothing beats a good warm shower when you are laying in bed all day.
- Flip-flops: You’ll need to get up and walk several times a day. You won’t be bending down and lacing up your tennis shoes. Bring flip-flops to walk around in. You might also want to use them in the shower.
- PJs, bathrobe, underwear, warm socks: You can certainly get away with just wearing your hospital gown the whole time. By the second or third day I changed into my own PJs. It felt really good to put on “real” clothes. I went to Target and bought some super comfortable PJ sets. You’ll want to bring something that is very loose fitting and has an elastic waist so it easily fits over your IV’s and doesn’t put pressure on your abdomen.
- Pillow*: The hospital pillows are really terrible. Bring your own for added comfort.
- Loving friend or family member to sleep in your room with you: My husband slept in my room for the duration of my stay. They had a big chair that pulled out into a cot for him. It is so helpful to have someone there to be your advocate at all hours of the day and night. He was always there to go get a nurse if I needed something, to speak up and ask questions, and to be an all around good companion. *Make sure to bring a pillow and a blanket for your guest if you are lucky enough to have someone to join you.
- iPad or laptop: You’ll need this to keep up with your blog and potentially watch Netflix if you have enough brain power.
- Heating Pad: My muscles were very sore from the hospital bed. There was also an immense amount of pain in my shoulders associated with leftover air from the laparoscopic surgery. A heating pad can help to alleviate some of that pain and relax the muscles.
- Food for special diets: It’s ironic and almost laughable how terrible hospital food is — not only the taste but the nutritional value. Find out ahead of time if there is a microwave and/or fridge on your floor for your personal use. Given that you are on a low-residue diet post-colectomy chicken soup may become your new best-friend. My mom made homemade soup ahead of time and froze it in individual servings. We brought a pyrex bowl and defrosted it in the microwave for me to eat. This was way better than eating the Kosher sodium soup available from the hospital menu. You will also be expected to drink a lot of liquid throughout the day. You might get sick of water and want to spice things up. I had friend’s bring me Honest Tea and lemonade to keep things interesting for my tastebuds.
- Clothes for the trip back home: You’ll want a clean pair of clothes to go home in. Remember you’ll still want to be wearing loose fitting elastic clothing for several weeks post surgery.
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