Surgery is a stressful prospect, but with the right preparation in advance, some of the weight can be taken from your shoulders.
Whether your surgery is inpatient or outpatient, it’s a good idea to have a pre-packed bag that contains your necessary items, along with a few things to comfort and entertain you. After all, there is typically a wait time before your surgery, and it can seem to stretch out interminably. Filling this time can put your mind a little more at peace and make the clock move faster. Plus, the better prepared you are, the easier the process will be for you, so let’s get you packed!
No matter the type of surgery, you should have:
*Required paperwork, filled out
*Emergency contact information
*Medical records, if requested
*List of your current medications, including dosage amount
That covers the basic information you will be required to have, but just as important are those items needed for your comfort and to keep you busy during the down time. There is always time where you are waiting, and it’s far easier to worry, even obsess, over the upcoming surgery if you have nothing to keep you occupied.
Because of this, it’s a good idea to bring along entertainment items such as books, portable game systems, music with headphones, a journal, a laptop (with plenty of battery charge) or any other item that might keep you entertained. It’s important that the items you bring are compact and easily portable, don’t require an outlet (just in case there isn’t one near you), and that you have headphones or can turn the volume off, as you do not want to bug anyone else around you, considering you will likely be in a waiting area with other patients, both before and after your surgery.
As you will likely be stressed and distracted, it is probably not a good idea to bring anything that would require too much concentration. For instance, that big project for work that you think will be a good distraction may be more of a nuisance than a help.
Chances are, you’ll be too on edge to really focus on the project the way you need to, which can lead to frustration or a project that isn’t finished the way it needs to be. At the very least, it is a good idea to bring backup. Otherwise, if you become too frustrated with the project to work on it, you’ll be stuck with nothing else to distract you.
That covers entertainment, but what about additional comfort measures? Having something that is special to you can make the waiting time and recovery much easier on you, especially if no one can stay with you through it all. A cherished photograph or letter is easy to pack up and pull out whenever you want to look at it. A small framed photo could even be set up by your bedside if you happen to have a table or tray. If you’re bringing something with a memory card, you can have photos right there on it to glance through.
Now that you have the extras packed, it’s time to look at clothing and hygiene. You may want to bring a warm robe to cover yourself up and some warm socks, preferably the type with rubber tread on the bottom for traction (the floors are usually slick linoleum).
Be sure these are items you’re willing to get stained or ruined, as there may be blood from stitches, messes from medications and you’ll be eating in bed if you’re there for any prolonged period of time. If you don’t have anything you’re willing to expose to stains at the hospital, you will be provided with the standard gown and sometimes slipper socks to keep your feet warm.
You’ll also need clothing to return home in. Be sure to take into consideration that you may be sore, that you may have stitches or a tender area to work around, and that there may be bloating, depending on the type of surgery. The clothes you pack for your return home should be comfortable and loose fitting. It’s also a good idea to make sure these items aren’t too fancy, just in case they get stained, as well. Don’t forget to throw in clean, comfortable underwear and socks.
It never hurts to have hygiene items on hand. You can find miniatures of just about anything at many stores, such as Target, Wal-Mart, grocery stores, drug stores and convenience stores. For those undergoing outpatient surgery, you may just need a hairbrush and, possibly, a toothbrush and toothpaste if you’ll be uncomfortable at feeling less than fresh.
Typically, those undergoing surgery are asked to not wear any makeup or deodorant, so those are other optional items you can pack for after the surgery. Lotion and wipes may also come in handy, the wipes mostly if you won’t be allowed to shower, as you can use them to clean yourself up for freshness. Hospital air tends to be dry, which can cause misery if your skin dries out because of it.
For inpatient surgery, things like soap, shampoo and conditioner can be added to the list. If you’re allowed to take a shower after your surgery, you’ll appreciate having your own soap, shampoo and conditioner, though some hospitals do provide their own miniatures. Extra pairs of contacts are good for the drive home, but you may also want to bring glasses, even if you typically prefer contact lenses. You may continue to be drowsy after your surgery, and contacts aren’t conducive to napping. Plus, that dry hospital air can dry your contacts out, which is unpleasant, to say the least.
Finally, don’t forget your cell phone and any chargers you may need. You’re not guaranteed to have access to an outlet, but for longer stays especially, you likely will. Any items that require chargers, such as laptops, touch pads, handheld games and portable DVD players, will need their chargers or you face being left with nothing to do.
Though many of these items are not absolutely necessary, they will go a long way toward reducing your nerves and keeping you occupied before and after surgery. Insuring you have the items you need and want with you reduces the things you have to worry about, and eliminates pesky trips back and forth from the hospital for those close to you.
In addition, everything should fit into one bag, except for items like laptops, which typically have their own bag anyway. This one bag can make a world of difference in the time surrounding your surgery.