The following is a list of items that I either took to the hospital with me (or really wish I had while in the hospital). As a woman, I tried to include similar items if necessary for you guys out there, but of course can’t speak from experience!
(Trust me, the sooner you can take off that hospital gown, the better you will feel! Also, it makes it much easier to get up and walking around when you don’t have to worry about keeping the back of your gown closed!).
- Yoga Pants – I went online when Old Navy was having a sell on active wear and purchased six pairs of black yoga pants in different styles for under $70. I knew I would want something comfortable and stretchy and black was to hide anything unsightly that might get on them. (I had two drains in my abdomen and there was definitely some leaking on occasions!). I found that the high rise style was the most comfortable for me (it might depend of preferences), but there will be lots of swelling and having the pressure of the high rise felt good. MEN: I assume sweats would be a good substitute in this case!
- Tank Tops – I found that loose tank tops were the way to go. There was easy access to your arms so that vitals and blood work could be taken and if I got cold, I would put on a hoodie or blanket. Again, dark colors are good. And many of my shirts ended up with safety pin holes from the abdominal drains (they were pinned to my shirt so that I didn’t lay on them and so I could walk around).
- Hoodie with Zipper – have something comfortable you can easily put on without have to put it over your head is a must!
- Robe – I purchased this robe just for this occasion! It is soft, light weight, and perfect for staying modest when out walking the ward or getting some chair time in your room.
- Slippers and/or non-skid slipper socks – you won’t be allowed up and around with regular socks on, so I recommend having either slippers or non-skid slipper socks (I had both). The hospital will give you non-skid slipper socks, but I really liked having these soft, fuzzy ones (I have the purple set!). If you’re trying to decide between one or the other, you have to remember that you will not be able to put your own socks on for a while… if you like to wear socks all the time, I would say go with those! If you’re like me and get hot easily, then slippers you can slide your feet into by yourself is probably the way to go!
- Under Garments – I’m not going to lie, I’m a little over 8 weeks post-op as I’m making this list, and bras still don’t cut it. Depending on your incision, you may or may not be comfortable wearing one. When in doubt, take one to the hospital (maybe a sports bra), but rest assured if you have a hoodie or a robe, you’ll be plenty covered up when you need to be and in all honesty, your modesty is probably going to go right out the window within 12 hours of surgery. As for underwear, I did bring my own, but I just ended up using the hospital’s once the catheter came out because the cut was much more comfortable than anything I owned (and again, I couldn’t have cared less by that point!).
- Headband – At some point you are going to start to feel a little gross, but you’re also not going to be ready to take a full on shower and wash your hair. This headband helps with those in between times without giving you a headache!
- Ponytail Holders – not what you think it’s for! After a few days of laying in bed, your back is going to hurt and you’re doing to want to stand in a hot shower to relax your muscles. If you have hand grenades (that’s what we called them – no clue the technical term) collecting the draining fluid from your abdomen (the ones that were pinned to my tank tops), then once you remove said tank top, you have to figure out how to deal with them in the shower. I put them on my wrists and then pinned the hand grenades to them. This allowed full range of motion for drying off and washing my hair once I was ready!
- Eye Mask or Pillow – this one is my favorite for use at home and in the hospital. It’s cool, the slight scent is relaxing, and the slight pressure feels good (I love it so much that I buy them as gifts!).
- Toothbrush & toothpaste (although, the hospital will likely supply you with both).
- As far as entertainment goes, I could not focus – couldn’t read, couldn’t really pay attention to television or movies. I ended up listening to (more like sleeping through) audio books. If you check out your local library, there is likely a way to check out audio books on your phone through an app.
- Phone Charger
- Ear Buds
- Thank you Cards (it felt good to be able to write notes for gifts I received or notes to nurses who went above and beyond to make sure I would get a good night’s sleep!)
(You won’t be given solid foods for a day or two and yes, the hospital feeds you, but you will probably find that you don’t have much of an appetite and might be nauseous (ice chips were my favorite meal for the first several days). I tried to get my caregiver to eat as much of my meals as I could do they didn’t go to waste! Below were some of my favorite things to have on hand).
- Fruit (grapes, oranges, anything I could eat little bits of at a time).
- Smoothies or icy cups (the hospital had these lemon icy cups that were my favorite and sometimes all I could manage to get down).
- Mints (or something similar to suck on – helped with nausea)
This is a list of things that definitely made my time in the hospital easier! If you have had a similar experience and I’ve missed something on your must-have list, comment below so I can add it!