Surgery Essentials

When you head to the hospital to have a baby, there are about a million different checklists in books and online telling you everything you need to take with you.  There are so many things you should remember that it’s a bit overwhelming, and no matter how many I consulted, I ended up missing something.  And taking way too much that I never used.  So this time when I headed to the hospital for my mastectomy, I made up my own list, and while I didn’t obsess over it, I did pretty well.  I knew that Clay would be heading home for the night to take care of the kids, so my I wanted to be able to be as independent as possible.  Here are a few things worth remembering:

  • Phone
  • Extra long phone charging cord—I wanted my cord to reach the little table by the bed so that I wouldn’t have to reach to plug it in or retrieve it while it was charging.
  • Hands free headset for phone—I didn’t want to have to hold my phone if I wanted to chat—came in handy for late night phone calls when I finally got out of surgery.
  • Pen and notepad—It was a great place to write down questions that I wanted to ask the doctor or nurse later.
  • Snacks—Hospital food is notoriously not so great, and just getting a snack isn’t always quick (even if you have someone to run out for it) or easy.  I stocked up on a few different favorites: plain pringles if I wanted something salty, twizzlers if I was craving sweet, and these chocolate covered cherries that I scored from Trader Joe’s for a special treat.  And for the record, when they gave me the go-ahead for solid food, the pringles tasted so much better than the saltines the nurse brought me.
  • Clothing—I didn’t think that I’d want to hang out in the hospital gown any longer than they made me, so I wanted to be sure to have something to put on.  I took two full changes of clothes—in case I could change after surgery and something else for the morning.  Obviously, stretchy pants are easiest to get on, so I went with the standard black yoga pants.  (For a splurge, try the Kick Booty pants from Athleta.  Spendy but fabulous.)  I knew that my top would need to be loose fitting (has to go over three drains that hang around your abdomen), lightweight (hot flashes), and something that didn’t need to go over my head (post surgery pain).  I have a lightweight hoodie that worked perfectly.  It’s gotten a lot of wear post-surgery!
  • Makeup—I know it may seem crazy to some, but I’m a firm believer that I feel healthier and better about myself if I take a little time to make myself look better.  So I took along some makeup essentials (brow gel, mascara, concealer, blush, lip gloss).  Even if you don’t care about makeup, take your good moisturizer, nothing feels better after washing your face.
  • Lip balm—whether or not you go the lip gloss route, a good lip balm is a must, my lips got so dry after surgery.  This Sugar Lip Treatment is my current favorite, Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 is a close second.
  • Lotion—same as above, nothing feels better on dry skin than nourishing lotion.
  • Bag—take a bigger bag than you think you’ll need.  They’ll load you down before you leave the hospital, I took home an extra compression bra, gloves and alcohol swabs for emptying the drains, and bunches of absorbent pads in case I needed to change any dressings.  They gave me all the normal discharge papers, in addition to bunches of brochures about support groups and helpful products.  Then there were gifts—from the hospital and friends who’d stopped by while I was in surgery—and flowers.

I probably could have gotten by without a lot of this, but it really did make me feel so much better to have the things I wanted on hand.  Before Clay left for the night, I had him get everything out of my bag that I thought I’d need before morning and I made it through the night without incident.  When they woke me in the morning to take my vitals, I washed my face, got changed, and put on my makeup in the little mirror that’s in the tray of the bedside table.  Just that simple action made me feel so much fresher and a little closer to normal.  And those pre-breakfast pringles never tasted so good.

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